Compared to the green fee of many of its top-100 peers, Forest Dunes in northern Michigan is a stellar value.  (Kevin Frisch/Fusion Media Strategies) The Classic at Madden's in Brainerd typically rates as the region's most lauded play.  (Courtesy of Madden's on Gull Lake) 22-course Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama is known nationally for its great bang-for-buck.  (Courtesy of Maderas Golf Club is a daily fee in San Diego that makes many top 100 lists. (Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor) Few Tom Fazio designs are as affordable and accessible as the 36 holes at World Woods, just north of Tampa, Fla. (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor) Great East Coast value awaits in Atlantic City at golf courses like Twisted Dune. (Oleg Volovik/Golf Advisor) Orange County National near Orlando, Fla. features 45 holes, lead by the 18-hole Panther Lake Course. (Courtesy of Orange County National) A couple hour's drive from Las Vegas, great scenery and value awaits in lesser known St. George, Utah. (Courtesy of Sand Hollow G.C.) When it comes to bang-for-the-buck, few resorts can match 54-hole Legends Golf Resort in Myrtle Beach. (Courtesy of Legends)

Top 10 budget buddies trip destinations in the U.S.

I'm often asked about not only where the world's best golf destinations are, but also where I can go to find exceptional value.

Over the years covering buddies trips for Golf Digest and now Golf Channel's Morning Drive, I've determined these 10 destinations do golf on a budget better than anywhere else in the United States.

And with fall around the corner, this is a particularly good time to take a value-based golf trip. Destinations like northern Michigan and Myrtle Beach drop their rates, while other destinations are in prime time, like Crossville, Tenn. and San Diego.

The most recent query came from Twitter user @KingElder10, which I used to revisit and update my 10 best budget buddies trip destinations.

Be sure to ask me all your golf and travel questions on Twitter at @MattGinellaGC and #AskMattyG.

Top 10 budget buddies trip destinations

1. Northern Michigan

The best budget buddies trip on earth combines quantity, quality and value. My ultimate itinerary in northern Michigan flies into Traverse City and starts with a round at Black Forest, followed by a stay-and-play at Treetops Resort for the Signature, Masterpiece, Premier and Threetops.

Wrap up your trip by heading an hour south on I-75 to Forest Dunes Golf Club (which is on pace to open Tom Doak's reversible course late next summer).

2. Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (Alabama)

This revolutionary golf trail concept changed the landscape of value golf forever. There are 11 hubs and 22 courses that attract golfers from all over the country. $65 courses leave you feel as though they're worth so much more. It's easy to book four nights and eight rounds for less than $800.

3. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Legendary variety and value await along the Grand Strand, home to 100-plus golf courses of all shapes and green fees. Less than $100 per person per day can get you an awful lot at resorts like 54-hole Legends Golf Resort. offers a limitless amount of golf packages and travel tools. While April is the busiest and priciest time of year for golf, the last two weeks of November is the best time to find value here.

4. Crossville, Tennessee

Home to 10 courses within a 30-minute drive, Crossville is the golf capital of Tennessee, between Nashville and Knoxville. Affordable, well equipped accommodations complement great golf at courses like Stonehenge and Bear Trace at Cumberland Mountain. September is a peak season here and five-night/five-round packages can be found under $500.

5. St. George, Utah

It's about a two-hour drive northeast from Las Vegas to St. George, Utah, where the ambiance and scenery is a total change from the bright lights of the Strip. There are exceptional resorts like Entrada at Snow Canyon, but public courses with a little more value include Coral Canyon, The Ledges, Sun River and Sky Mountain Golf Course.

6. Tampa, Florida

There are a tremendous amount of golf courses in Tampa-St. Pete, which leads to plenty of tee time bargains. Buddies trips should head north to World Woods, a 45-hole playground for classic buddies trips. This secluded property features two very different Tom Fazio designs, Pine Barrens and Rolling Oaks, plus a huge practice facility and short course, plus on-site villas.

7. Orlando, Florida

An abundance of golf awaits throughout Orlando, and the best facility for golf-til-you-drop buddies trips is Orange County National. This mecca of golf, which has affordable on-site accommodations, is perfect for a three- or four-night stay, thanks to two championship courses, a practice facility that stays lit until 11 p.m. and an exceptional short course, The Tooth.

8. Brainerd, Minnesota

Stay, fish, and play golf at family-friendly Madden's on Gull Lake. The resort's Classic Course, a top-100 pick, is still underrated. Maddens promotes walking and has a caddie program.

Jason Scott Deegan recently wrote about how to make $200 stretch over three days of golf in the Brainerd area.

9. San Diego, California

With 90-plus courses in temperate San Diego County, you can name your price for golf 12 months out of the year. The ultimate splurge is a stay-and-play at the Lodge at Torrey Pines. You can offset the high green fees of the famed Torrey Pines South Course with budget rounds at Coronado and Balboa Park.

10. Atlantic City, N.J.

Two hours from Manhattan, less than an hour from Philly, golf here dates back to 1903 and Atlantic City Country Club, which has hosted six USGA major championships and is now open to the public. Round out your golf and gaming vacation with rounds at Sea View, Twisted Dune, Shore Gate Golf Club and player-friendly Vineyard Golf at Renault Winery.

Aug 28, 2015

Join the conversation

Post a comment 

Jerry's avatar
Jerry wrote at 2018-03-31 00:29:27+00:00:

Have never been to the great NW US courses that i read about in OR = assuming that the “budget” angle doesn’t work there?

Kyle's avatar
Kyle wrote at 2018-04-19 17:29:37+00:00:

Bend, OR is the best place to go in the NW. I take a group of 20 there every year for 6 days and we spend $1000 for lodging and green fees. Just got to search deals out (stay & play packages, vacation home deals, re-round rates, group discounts, etc). The extra effort to find deals is worth it. Bend has several high quality courses to choose from so we can change courses every year.

ROBERT MCMULLEN wrote at 2018-03-29 16:41:16+00:00:


Patrick 's avatar
Patrick wrote at 2018-01-23 19:24:32+00:00:

My name is Patrick and I am an avid golfer out of Salt Lake City. I am a 5.2 handicap and obsessed with golf. Each year my friends and I have been lucky enough to take some great golf trips to compete for our very own "champions cup". Throughout the years of doing this, I have become very proficient in creating fun betting games for each day or the whole trip. Creating videos of our rounds has always been something that I have found fun and has been a great way to remember the vacation years down the road. I wanted to help others with their trip and make it as fun as ours have been. This is a hobby of mine for a long time and I would love to share in your next adventure! Check out the site -

Chris's avatar
Chris wrote at 2017-11-18 01:26:19+00:00:

I’m super late here but it’s criminal to not mention Sand Hollow in your review of St. George. The best course in Utah.

Doug's avatar
Doug wrote at 2017-11-28 20:08:35+00:00:


MIke Saksa's avatar
MIke Saksa wrote at 2017-11-14 21:18:41+00:00:

No North Carolina, South Carolina, Northern California, Arizona or Las Vegas? Not a good list

Chris's avatar
Chris wrote at 2017-11-18 01:28:17+00:00:

Agreed with Arizona but Vegas is vastly overrated for golf. I’d guess the author was providing St. George as a representative of the UT/NV/AZ region.

LizKline's avatar
LizKline wrote at 2015-09-29 20:10:22+00:00:

I completely agree on Michigan golf buddy trip since I do one every year (add Boyne Resorts to the list of places to play and stay). Wisconsin we did once and it was pretty solid: Erin Hills, Lawsonia (two courses), the Dells has a number of courses, University Ridge (U of Wisconsin course), Green Bay Country Club, and on and on. LOTS of golf courses. More driving between courses than Michigan, but easy to fly in and out of Milwaukee.

inozips's avatar
inozips wrote at 2015-09-01 16:04:14+00:00:

Am thinking we are "golf poor" these days. I just spent a week wandering around Texas and Texas is not in this Top Ten. If you get a chance to go to Big Bend Black Jack's Crossing, it is special, 50 mile views from some tees. Liked Butterfield Trail in El Paso too. San Antonio has a couple "gooders" too. 

BrandonTuckerGA's avatar
BrandonTuckerGA Staff wrote at 2015-09-02 18:17:57+00:00:

Some good stuff in Texas. San Antonio can make a case for some having some good value for buddies trips. I've played Black Jack's Crossing and boy it is special but not a "budget" buddies trip by any imagination. 

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Matt Ginella

Special Contributor

Matt Ginella is Golf Channel's resident travel insider. He writes for and appears weekly on "Morning Drive." Before Golf Channel, Ginella was senior travel editor for Golf Digest and Golf World from 2007-2012 and covered courses, resorts and the avid amateur golfer's annual buddies trips to over 60 destinations around the country. Ginella graduated from St. Mary's College (Calif.) in 1995 and earned a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University in 2003. Follow Matt on Twitter at @mattginellagc and on Instagram at @Matt_Ginella.