10 Best Golf Courses In The Bay Area

The Bay Area is an immense region of California home to the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. In this post, I reveal the 10 best golf courses in the Bay Area for low, mid, and high-handicapper golfers.

By the end of this post, you will know the best links, parkland, par 3, and 9-hole golf courses in the Bay Area. In addition, I reveal which is the most affordable, challenging, and ideal for beginners looking for a less demanding round.

Here is what you can expect to learn in our review of the best Bay Area golf courses:

  • Top 10 best golf courses in the Bay Area
  • Best golf courses for players on a budget
  • The best Bay Area public golf courses
  • The leading parkland and links golf courses in the Bay Area
  • The best 9-hole and par 3 golf courses in the Bay Area

Top Bay Area Golf Courses

  1. TPC Harding Park – Best Parkland Golf Course
  2. Sharp Park Golf Course – Most Affordable
  3. Baylands Golf Links – Best For Beginners
  4. Course At Wente Vineyards – Most Diverse Layout
  5. Presidio Golf Course – Shortest
  6. Cinnabar Hills – Most Challenging
  7. Half Moon Bay Golf Links Old Course – Best Links
  8. Monarch Bay – Best 9-Hole Golf Course
  9. The MIF At Corica Park – Best Par 3 Golf Course
  10. Ocean Course At Half Moon Bay Golf Links – Best Views

1. TPC Harding Park – Best Overall Bay Area Golf Course

  • Website: https://tpc.com/hardingpark/
  • City: San Francisco
  • Overall Rating: 4.5/5
  • Fun Rating: 4.6/5
  • Design Rating: 4.5/5
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 7,1691 yards
  • Price: ????

TPC Harding Park is a famed layout located on the shores of Lake Merced, San Francisco. The gentlemen who constructed the Olympic Club, Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, are the same pair responsible for Harding.

My top parkland layout suggestion for the Bay Area is no stranger to big tournaments. Their most recent rodeo was the 2020 PGA Championship when 23-year-old Collin Morikawa announced himself to the world by hoisting the Wanamaker.

The course plays 7,169 yards from the back tees with 72 a par score for the round. Monterey Cypress trees line the fairways, so accuracy and distance are required for a decent net. Wayward golf shots are captured by beefy rough, which can prove challenging to escape.

Even when your swing is off quilter, you can still enjoy the sights of Lake Merced and the surrounding greenery.

Read about more golf courses in California to plan your perfect golfing break to the West Coast.

2. Sharp Park Golf Course – Most Affordable

If you are up for saving a few dollars, the Sharp Park Golf Course is a reliable option for golfers on a budget. The designer of Augusta National and my home course, Allister MacKenzie, crafted the original blueprint for the City-owned semi-links style track.

Built alongside the Pacific Ocean in the City of Pacifica, Sharp Park is characterized by water and trees. Your round commences through a forest of native trees before running parallel to the Pacific.

Besides its proximity to the peaceful ocean, the course circles around Lago Salada, attracting a wealth of birdlife and offering scenic water views and a backdrop of mountains. The course is short but by no means a walk in the park.

It allows the average golfer to navigate with a fairway wood or hybrid off the tee and still have a shot at reaching longer holes on approach.

When your budget is not an issue, treat yourself to a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the most expensive golf courses in the world.

3. Baylands Golf Links – Best For Casual Golfers

  • Website: http://baylandsgolflinks.com/
  • City: Palo Alto
  • Overall Rating: 4.3/5
  • Fun Rating: 4.7/5
  • Design Rating: 4.2/5
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 6,680 yards
  • Price: ???

The Baylands Golf Links is one of the best San Francisco golf courses for casual players seeking a fun day out and an open yet challenging layout. It was initially designed by Torrey Pines architect William Francis Bell in 1956 before the club underwent a $12 million renovation by Forrest Richardson and team in 2016.

Baylands Golf Links features wide fairways, giving you room to miss, but the enlarged target does not mean it is easy. The wind is a constant in your round, and the presence of chunky Seashore Paspalum holds your ball up, requiring precise distance control on approach.

Baylands features a unique setup of five par 5s and an equal number of par 3s. However, it still plays to a par 72 and runs 6,680 yards off the back tees.

4. Presidio Golf Course – The Best Parkland Course

  • Website: https://www.presidiogolf.com/
  • City, State: San Francisco
  • Overall Rating: 4.2/5
  • Fun Rating: 4.7/5
  • Design Rating: 4.2/5
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 6,481 yards
  • Price: ???

Joe DiMaggio, Bob Hope, and Babe Ruth have all left their mark at the historic Presidio Golf Course, which tops the shortest best golf courses in San Francisco. The golf course only runs 6,481 yards off the back tee, meaning the average golfer can reach some par 5s in two shots.

Constructed in 1895 as a nine-hole golf course by Robert Wood Johnson, the designer expanded it to 18 holes 15 years later. Although short, the parkland course is lined by Eucalyptus and Monterey Pines, which require accurate strikes to navigate.

In addition, strategically placed sand traps are always waiting to swallow your ball, demanding precise distance control off the tee and on approach.

5. Course At Wente Vineyards – Most Diverse Layout

  • Website: https://wentevineyards.com/golf
  • City, State: Livemore
  • Overall Rating: 4.1/5
  • Fun Rating: 4.6/5
  • Design Rating: 4.3/5
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 7,181 yards
  • Price: ???

Situated a 50-minute drive from Frisco, the Course At Wente Vineyards is a masterpiece created by an outspoken Australian chap, now at the helm of LIV Golf. The 7,181-yard, par 72 Championship Course offers a wealth of vistas and topographies, switching from vineyards to woodlands and natural grasslands.

The East Bay hills surround the layout, which adds an extra layer of beauty to the fray. Golfers who dare should journey to Wente in summer, where hot, dry, and windy conditions will challenge everyone from a high handicapper to Pros.

Since you are in wine country, it is only fair to reserve a grill on-site and sample some of the local produce.

6. Cinnabar Hills – Most Challenging

  • Website: https://www.cinnabarhills.com/
  • City: San Jose
  • Overall Rating: 4.3/5
  • Fun Rating: 4.7/5
  • Design Rating: 4.1/5
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 6,617 – 6,854 yards
  • Price: ???

Cinnabar Hills offers casual golfers a unique experience, with 27 holes of golf to choose from. You can combine whichever three 9-hole layouts to enjoy varying vistas and challenges. The course is divided between the Mountain, Canyon, and Lake circuits for a diverse round of golf.

Much attention is given to the clubhouse, which features Walter Hagen’s Ryder Cup jacket and President Eisenhower’s Augusta green jacket. However, skilled golfers will relish the challenge of the target golf setup, where there is restricted room for error.

The mountain golf course is narrow, which demands pinpoint accuracy. On the other hand, the canyon golf course has bunkers littered from tee to green. Finally, as the name suggests, a wayward strike could effortlessly end in the drink on the Lake course.

7. Ocean Course At Half Moon Bay Golf Links – Best Links

  • Website: https://www.halfmoonbaygolf.com/
  • City, State: Half Moon Bay
  • Overall Rating: 4.3/5
  • Fun Rating: 4.7/5
  • Design Rating: 4.1/5
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 6,787 yards
  • Price: ????

The Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay claims the prize for the top links in our best Bay Area public golf course review. Arthur Hills designed the track, which commenced operations in 1997 as a traditional links layout.

The Ocean Course is open, and you can get away with the odd wayward shot. However, the elevation changes have you constantly second-guessing your club selection. Given its proximity to the ocean, the wind is a constant threat, so lower running shots are the most intelligent way to navigate this challenge.

It runs 6,787 yards from the back tees, which is not the longest golf course, allowing moderate hitters a mid-iron into most par 4 greens. Finally, although the Pacific is visible on all holes, the signature 16th and 17th offer spectacular cliffside views, with the ocean and clubhouse lurking in the back.

8. The Old Course At Half Moon Bay Golf Links – Best For Course Management

  • Website: https://www.halfmoonbaygolf.com/
  • City, State: Half Moon Bay
  • Overall Rating: 4.3/5
  • Fun Rating: 4.7/5
  • Design Rating: 4.1/5
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 7,001 yards
  • Price: ????

The Old Course At Half Moon Bay Golf Links reminds me of the scenes enjoyed in Scotland, especially the cliffs on the closing two holes. Arnold Palmer and Francis Duane partnered to build the Old Course, and it opened its doors in 1973.

The 7,001-yard par 72 layout offers a links, parkland hybrid, which traverses through a housing development and tree-lined fairways before finishing on the shores of the Pacific. It requires supreme course management to avoid trees, bunkers, and water while taking the wind out of play.

Given the prestige of the Old Course and its association with Arnold Palmer, it is unsurprising that it costs a pretty penny for 18 holes.

9. Monarch Bay – Best 9-Hole Golf Course

  • Website: https://www.monarchbaygc.com/
  • City, State: San Leandro
  • Overall Rating: 4.3/5
  • Fun Rating: 4.7/5
  • Design Rating: 4.1/5
  • Par: 29
  • Length: 1,734 yards
  • Price: ?

Shorter forms of golf have become increasingly popular as individuals look for ways to enjoy the game in a shorter time frame. The Monarch Bay Executive layout beats the other best San Francisco golf courses to win the prize of the best 9-hole track.

With a distance of 1,734 yards, the short course requires a score of 29 to finish even par and is a fun way to spend an hour or two outdoors. It offers the ideal environment for beginners to get acquainted with the game and work on their swing without the stress of holding up more skilled individuals.

While you have fun on the Executive Course, you are treated to gorgeous views of the Frisco skyline and the San Mateo bridge.

10. The MIF Albright At Corica Park – Best Par 3 Golf Course

  • Website: https://www.coricapark.com/
  • City, State: Oakland
  • Overall Rating: 3.7/5
  • Fun Rating: 4.7/5
  • Design Rating: 3.6/5
  • Par: 27
  • Price: ??

Sticking with shorter golf courses Bay Area side, we look at the MIF at Corica Park, our best par 3 course. Golf Magazine ranks it in the top 15 par 3 golf courses in the United States, making it a clear winner among the shortest golf courses in the Bay Area.

Naturally, every hole is a par 3, allowing you to leave your longer clubs at home. The quality of the greens surprised me, which rolled fast and smooth. It may be short, but it is a real challenge that makes for a fun day out.

Whether you are a low handicapper looking for iron and wedge practice, or a family seeking a day out, the MIF Albright is worth a visit.


Is San Francisco Good For Golf?

Yes, San Francisco is a good city for golf. The weather enables you to play year-round, with several private and public courses ranging from TPC Harding Park and Presidio Golf Course.

Can You Golf Year-Round In San Francisco?

Yes, the weather in San Francisco allows you to play golf year-round. Although temperatures drop into the forties during winter, the maximum reaches mid-50s and low-60s in the winter months. These conditions are ideal for navigating the golf course.


Our review of the best golf courses in the Bay Area shows a wealth of complete and executive golf courses that are only a Sand wedge from San Francisco. Whether you are a skilled, low handicapper, or a beginner, there are golf courses suited to your ability.

Personally, TPC Harding Park is a must-play when visiting the Bay Area for golf, given its prestige, history, and challenging layout. I am not typically one for demanding parkland courses, but I was in awe of the Monterey Cypress trees and Lake Merced in the background.

Book a tee time at the 2020 PGA Championship venue, and experience the beauty, test, and history of Harding Park.

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Matt has played golf since he was 4 years old and has written over 150 articles at GolfSpan since 2021. Matt specializes in product reviews using his postgraduate degree in Sports Marketing from Johan Cruyff Institute. Matt has a handicap index of 10.8 and currently plays weekly at Pilar Golf Course near his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He also loves his Callaway Odyssey Exo Rossie putter and likes a pepper steak pie with curry gravy at the turn. You can connect with him on LinkedIn

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