Even if you have no armed forces affiliation in your family, don't let that deter you from playing golf at a course operated by the armed forces. There are nearly 160 golf courses operated by the combined efforts of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines. Many of them are walkable and deliver an unique golf experience for civilians at an exceptional value. It's quite rare to find a military course green fee over $50. A handful of them even make our yearly best-of lists.
The vast majority of military facilities welcome some form of civilian play, and many permit the public even if unaccompanied by military members. In fact, many facilities rely on public green fees to help cover operational thoughts. In fact, federal law mandates that the military's golf course be self-sustaining through the Department of Defense's non-appropriated funds collected through the Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities. Your patronage at these facilities helps keep them open for military families and public enjoyment.
We've received about 3,000 reviews from golfers both of civilian and military background at Golf Advisor in the last few years and have compiled a top ten based on their all-time overall ratings and quantity of reviews. In general, Golf Advisor reviewers rate the Staff Friendliness (4.2/5 average) and Value (4.35/5 average) of military golf courses very high.
While military base golf course public access can vary, these ten are among the safer bets in terms of civilian ease of booking tee times. Many of these courses have online booking capability at MilitaryTeeTimes.com. Military members and their family can receive added discounts on tee times, while the general public can also browse specials and book tee times.
If you've never played golf at a military installation, click here for some basic training on playing military golf.
Top 10 military courses based on golfer ratings and reviews
Operated by Marine Corps Community Services, golfers love this value course within a short drive of pricier Hilton Head Island. Reviews were strong enough in 2016 to for the course to make our Best-of list for South Carolina.
Army's West Point Golf Course made our Best of New York list in 2016. The secluded Robert Trent Jones Sr. design opened in 1948 and plays just over 6,000 yards. Golfers rave about the course conditions and say it's hilly nature makes it play longer than the scorecard suggests.
A wonderful opportunity to score a bargain near Pebble Beach, Navy-operated Monterey Pines is on the short side at 5,500 yards, but received a renovation in 2009. It's the most reviewed (over 400) of any military course on our site, so you can be sure it's plenty popular. Reviewer lwedge wrote:
"A bit shorter than I usually like to play, but the main thing is that I got to hit every club in my bag. Greens were some of the best I've ever played and the rest of the course was in fine shape too. Very hard to find affordable golf on the Monterey Peninsula, so this was a gem."
Also worth noting, Bayonet and Blackhorse, located on the site of a former Army base, Fort Ord, is one of the best 36-hole golf facilities in the west. The fort closed in the 60s and the land was purchased by the town of Seaside in 1997. The courses were soon rebuilt and it is now privately managed.
4. Admiral Baker Golf Courses
San Diego's Admiral Baker facility, operated by the Navy, features 36 holes, the North and South. The North is nearly 800 yards longer at over 6,800 yards, but the two layouts earn fairly similar scores according to reviewers.
In Phoenix's West Valley north of Luke Air Force Base, Falcon Dunes opened in 1998 and was designed by popular area designer Gary Panks.
"Well stocked Pro Shop with cafeteria restaurant and a bar," wrote Clindenmuth. "The staff is very friendly and the carts are like new. Can't wait to play another round."
Just a whiff away from the Atlantic Ocean, Windy Harbor is a Navy-operated course at the Navy Station Mayport that opened in 1960 and was designed by Willard Byrd. (Editor's Note: Current base procedures require civilians get a MWR card that can take up to three weeks to process.)
Located outside Seattle on Whidbey Island, this Navy-operated Gallery course opened in 1948 and features ocean views well-regarded course conditions.
Famed architect William P. Bell built Marine Memorial, north of San Diego near Camp Pendleton in the 1940s. It is the recent recipient of an extensive renovation, and earns a 96% recommended score from golfers.
27-hole Fort Eustis is across the street from the Felker Army Air Field near the James River. The course dates back to the 1940s but received major upgrades in the 1990s. It made Virginia's 2016 best-of list thanks to exceptional "value" scores. There is another championship 18-hole military facility to the east, Eaglewood Golf Course.
Just east of Long Beach in Orange County, the 18-hole Destroyer course is the main draw, while the shorter 9-hole Cruiser course also earns similarly solid ratings.