Which U.S. cities are like a second home to the avid golfer? To mark National Golf Lover’s Day on Oct. 4, our friends at LawnStarter ranked 2023’s Best Cities for Golf. They compared the 200 biggest U.S. cities based on six categories. More specifically, they factored in public and premium course access, course quality, golfer groups, and climate, among 25 metrics. Find out if your city is up to par in their rankings.
Although “warm and sunny” doesn’t guarantee a high ranking on their list, a mild climate makes for perfect golf weather. Of the top 25 cities for golf, 16 ranked in the top half of their climate category.
The top half of our ranking is dominated by Southern cities. Outside of a few Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania cities, the large majority are in lower latitudes.
Good weather also makes for great turf conditions. Public and premium course access is a major factor in golfability, so it’s no surprise that the highest-ranked cities generally have the most courses.
Everyone except fans of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail will be surprised to see Birmingham, Alabama, in their top 10.
Scottsdale Is King
- For the second year in a row, the low round of the day goes to Scottsdale, Arizona, which ranked top five in five of six categories. Scottsdale blew away the competition, scoring a hole-in-one in public course access, premium course access, training access, and course quality. It also ranked No. 2 in Community.
The Home of Golf
- At No. 2 overall, Orlando, Florida, was the only other city apart from Scottsdale, Arizona, with a top-5 ranking in at least two categories. Orlando also ranked top 10 in public course access and course quality. Orlando really is one of the most magical places on Earth — for golfers.
The Perfect Storm
- Florida-based golfers might feel they missed the fairway with only two Florida cities, Orlando and Tampa, appearing in their top 25. That’s a bit of an eyebrow raiser for those familiar with Florida’s reputation as a golf hotbed — or even the “golf capital of the world,” thanks to legend Arnold Palmer. Florida cities were dinged for their climate scores because of the hot, humid, and thunderstorm-y summers that the state is well known for.
- California and Arizona each have five cities in the top 25, making them the most golf-friendly states on our list. California golfers will feel they won the match, however, with a total of nine cities in the top 50 compared with Arizona’s six.
- St. Louis was the top-25 city that jumped the highest from their 2022 ranking. The Gateway to the West Golf shot 57 spots up the leaderboard from No. 68 to No. 11 thanks to new metrics in their methodology, particularly amateur golf contests (No. 9). Sacramento was the biggest overall mover, climbing 125 spots — from No. 157 to No. 32 — after scoring an ace in community.
Putting Golf at a Premium
- The best cities on the list make top-tier golf a priority. Every city in the top 10 ranks 34th or better in Premium Course Access, with eight ranking 15th or better. They also score highly on course quality, with only three ranked lower than 26th and five ranked in the top 10.
First, they determined the factors (metrics) that are most relevant to rank the Best Cities for Golfers. Then they assigned a weight to each factor based on its importance and grouped those factors into six categories:
- Public Course Access
- Premium Course Access
- Training Access
- Course Quality
For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, data was gathered and calculated with scores – out of 100 points – for each city to determine its rank in each factor, each category, and overall. A city’s Overall Score is the average of its scores across all factors and categories. The highest Overall Score ranked “Best” (No. 1) and the lowest “Worst” (No. 200). Note: The “Worst” among individual factors may not be No. 200 due to ties.