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Guide to U.S. Golfing for Canadians

By Diane Amato

Published March 13, 2024 • 10 Min Read

Canadians love to golf. Recent data suggests that more Canadians than ever are picking up a set of clubs each year. The trouble is, we’re graced with only 4 golfable months out of 12 – or 5 for the truly hearty (and obsessed) among us. 

But golfers shouldn’t let Canadian weather limit their playing time – not when the world’s largest golfing playground is just across the southern border. Whether it’s a quick weekend road trip, an elaborate resort getaway or something in between, the U.S. offers golfing options for every budget and ability, letting you extend the golf season considerably.

The U.S. is home to roughly 15,000 golf courses, making it the ultimate golf destination. But where do you begin? Here are five regions to explore if you’re looking to complement your Canadian summer with some off-season links.

The Carolinas

While some might object to grouping North and South Carolina together, it’s for good reason. Both states offer fantastic golf options, and both deserve spots on any ‘best of’ golf list. While the two states share a border and even a golf hole (on Farmstead’s Golf Links’ 18th hole, you tee off in the South and putt out in the North), their strengths as golf destinations differ.

North Carolina offers over 600 courses and boasts diversity, quality and challenge across its course repertoire. In the first half of the twentieth century, legendary course architect Donald Ross made his mark on the state, designing more than 50 courses and shaping its golf history. Donald Ross courses continue to be the gems of the state, including Pinehurst #2, which will host the U.S. Open in 2024 and many years to come. Of course, Arnold Palmer’s signature course Occano is among the state’s most renowned and not to be overlooked.

With classic, traditional courses that celebrate North Carolina’s natural landscape, steeped in history and largely easy on the wallet, North Carolina offers a wealth of golf options from Asheville to Wilmington. 

South Carolina, meanwhile, offers more large, multi-course golf destinations amid a more tropical climate than its northern neighbour. Myrtle Beach in particular is renowned as a prime golf destination, boasting over 90 golf courses, ranging from championship courses to family-friendly mini courses. Settled along the shores of South Carolina’s Atlantic coast, Myrtle Beach offers a wide range of course styles and lengths that cater to players of all skill level. Ranked as “America’s Favorite Buddies Trip Destination,” Myrtle Beach is known for being fun and budget-friendly – but the “Grand Strand,” the 60-mile strip of South Carolina coastline, boasts some of the state’s finest courses, as well as multiple top 100-ranked courses, including The Dunes Golf & Beach Club and TPC Myrtle Beach.

Four hours down the coast is another great option – Hilton Head Island remains a timeless golf destination, with plenty of championship golf to be had. Harbour Town Golf Links is perhaps the most iconic, hosting the RBC Heritage Classic since 1969. Beyond Harbour Town, there are 55 courses within a 15-mile radius of Hilton Head, 30 of which are public – the island more than earns its reputation as one of the top 10 golfing destinations as rated by Golf Digest. It’s a perfect getaway for laid-back, challenging rounds set among a landscape of white-sand beaches, towering oaks, winding trails and a palpable feeling of elegance and small-town charm.

The best time to go:

For both North Carolina and South Carolina, the best golfing is outside the summer months, when temperatures and humidity rise. The late March to late May period delivers delightful spring conditions, while September – November is fall golf at its best. 


The state of Florida is known as golf capital of the world, with more golf courses per capita than any other place in the U.S. and a top pick for many golf trip planners. A recent count tallies over 1,250 courses across the state. 

All of Florida’s major cities are top-notch golf destinations, making every corner of the state an attractive destination for your golf getaway. The best way to decide where to golf is to decide what you want to do outside of golf and go from there. For a bit of help, here’s a rundown of golf per city:

Jacksonville: Jacksonville’s budget-friendly hotels and golf courses make it an attractive destination for golfers looking for quality golf without breaking the bank. It is also home to some of the state’s most recognizable golf courses, including TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course, home to the Players Championship.

Tampa: There are more than 200 golf courses within a 45-mile radius of Tampa city centre.  Less of a resort destination than other parts of Florida, Tampa offers plenty of 18- and 36-hole options for Canadians looking for affordable options in the sunshine state. 

Orlando: The Theme Park Capital of the World is also home to some of the state’s best golf courses and features some premier golf resorts. The world-renowned Bay Hill course is open to those staying at the Bay Hill Club & Lounge and Reunion Resort is home to 54 holes of championship golf designed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson. 

Miami: Miami is home to over 20 award-winning golf courses and a number of luxurious golf resorts. From downtown Miami to the suburbs of Doral and Aventura, you can find famous holes and relive infamous moments while you soak in the Miami sunshine.

Palm Beaches: The Palm Beaches offers more than 160 golf courses and it’s no wonder – many golfing greats make Palm Beaches their home, so the courses have got to be good! The PGA National Resort & Spa and the Jack Nicklaus-designed The Champion offer some of the finest golf in the country.

Panama City: While Panama City may be renowned as a spring break destination, it’s also one of the U.S.’s top golf towns, featuring five championship golf courses (including Bay Point Resort Golf Club, home to the only Nicklaus Design course in Northwest Florida), affordable green fees and 320 days of sunshine per year. 

The best time to go:

February to April is the best time to hit the links in Florida – the temperatures are comfortable and there’s the lowest chance of a thunderstorm. Of course, the farther south you go, the earlier you can go. The north end of the state will still be fairly chilly in January.


California is home to famous, bucket-list-worthy courses. With the exceptional biodiversity and beauty of the state, California golf courses are set among spectacular scenery, including mountains, deserts, towering redwoods and pristine coastline. Choose your favourite setting and book accordingly!

With over 1,000 golf courses to choose from, there is something for every golfer in California. While there are some affordable courses, California is not the ideal destination for the budget-minded golfer. Go instead for the historic resorts and hit iconic courses such as Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines or Spyglass Hill.

For a golf vacation wrapped up in a spectacular road trip, try building or booking a Pacific Coast Highway golf tour.  Courses up and down Highway 1 – from San Diego to San Francisco (and beyond, if you’re so inclined) offer a variety of challenge and a few championship courses along the way. Be sure to pause between shots to take in your surroundings.

Best time to go:

While any time of year works to golf in California, September to November tend to be favourite months. The weather is warm and there is less chance of fog in the mornings. 


With over 300 days a year of sunshine, and over 300 golf courses, Arizona is a desert paradise that attracts millions of golfers every year. Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tucson are the primary regions for golf in the state and all reward traveling golfers with classic desert views and mountain landscapes – along with dazzling greens and artfully designed fairways. 

Home to a few must-play courses – including Troon North’s Pinnacle Course, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club and TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course, home to the Waste Management Phoenix Open – Arizona balances extravagant resort-style golf with hundreds of affordable public options. 

Golfers heading to AZ are advised to respect the wildlife (an errant shot into the desert brush could lead you to an encounter with cacti, rattlesnakes and even Gila monsters) and to stay hydrated. In the summer months especially, temperatures can soar. 

The best time to go:

February and March are spectacular golfing months in Arizona – and for fans of Major League Baseball, there are plenty of spring training facilities throughout the state where you can catch a game when your round is over. And of course, the rowdy Waste Management Open in February draws crowds from around the world.

September through January is also a great time to go, with milder temperatures and some good discounts compared to peak season.


The state of Alabama may not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning a golf getaway, but it has emerged as one of the best for value, hospitality and getting around. It’s due, in large part, to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, a collection of championship-caliber golf courses across Alabama. 

The Trail is the brainchild of Dr. David Bonner, CEO of Retirement Systems of Alabama, who, in the 1980s, wanted to help boost tourism and attract economic growth in the state. His idea was to build 378 holes at eight sites and over 1,000 miles in Alabama – all at one time. Legendary architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr., one of the preeminent golf course architects in the world, came out of semi-retirement to tackle the project. His objective was twofold: to challenge the world’s best golfers and to provide an enjoyable round for the casual player or beginner.

Today, the Trail is made up of eleven locations, 26 courses and 8 resorts throughout the state that provide an unforgettable experience to golfers of every ability. In fact, tee boxes may have as many as 12 tee locations, pegged to ability level to accommodate everyone. 

The New York Times calls the courses on the Trail “some of the best public golf on earth,” and the Wall Street Journal lauds it as the biggest bargain in the country. 

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail website features a trail map that shows the distance between courses in miles and in time, allowing golfers to easily plan their golf trip.

The best time to go:

April to May and October to November are the most ideal months for a golf getaway in Alabama. Perfect timing to warm up your game before hitting the links in Canada, or for extending your season when the temperature dips at home!

There are so many fantastic golf destinations in the U.S. – this list is limited to warm-weather locations that allow Canadians to build on the warm months at home and create an extended golfing season. However, Michigan, New York, Wisconsin and others offer exceptional golf options during the late spring and summer months.

Wherever you decide to go, and whether it’s a buddies’ getaway, a multi-generational family trip or a couples’ retreat, you can make the most of your golf vacation with a cross-border banking solution that works just as hard as your rescue club. Get access to no-fee ATMs across the country and save on foreign exchange fees for purchases made in U.S. dollars – from green fees to hotel stays to extra balls (just in case). 

Golf More, Stress Less

Bring your U.S. credit card on your next golf trip to the U.S. and say goodbye to foreign transaction fees.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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