Top Golf Courses for Retirees in California

Retirement in California has so much to offer – stunning views, picturesque landscapes and unique activities that you won’t find anywhere else. But as a retiree, staying active and engaged with the community is essential. You don’t have to give up your favorite hobby of golf when you move into retirement age! There are several popular golf courses across various locations in California perfect for those who love the sport but may be lacking time to get out on the course as much as they’d like. Here we present our top picks for the best courses tailored especially for retirees in The Golden State.

California boasts pristine golf courses ideal for retirees. Favorites include Pebble Beach’s scenic views, Palm desert landscapes, and Torrey Pines’ coastal beauty. Accessibility, varied difficulties, and senior-friendly amenities make these courses perfect for a relaxed game in the Golden State’s diverse terrains. Enjoy golfing in your golden years!

Key Takeaways

  • California offers a rich variety of golf courses that cater to retirees, ranging from scenic coastal courses to lush inland greens.
  • These top courses provide not only a great golfing experience but also a range of amenities and facilities that enhance the overall experience for retirees.
  • Golfing in retirement isn’t just about the sport; it offers retirees a chance to stay physically active, mentally sharp, and socially connected.
Top Golf Courses for Retirees in California

Criteria for Selection

Accessibility for Retirees

  • Easy Access: Courses should have smooth pathways, ramps, and minimal stairs, catering to retirees who might have mobility issues.
  • Transportation: The availability of shuttle services or golf carts to move around the course can be a significant advantage.
  • Parking: Ample and close parking spaces, preferably with spots reserved for seniors or those with disabilities.
  • Course Layout: A layout that doesn’t require excessive walking or steep climbs between holes is ideal for retirees.

Course Difficulty and Variety

  • Multiple Tees: Courses that offer a range of tee boxes cater to both novice and experienced golfers.
  • Variety in Holes: A mix of par 3, 4, and 5 holes ensures that the course remains interesting and offers different challenges.
  • Obstacles: While some retirees might enjoy the challenge of water hazards and bunkers, others might prefer a more straightforward course. A balanced mix can cater to both preferences.
  • Course Maintenance: Well-maintained greens, fairways, and bunkers are essential for a good golfing experience.

Amenities and Facilities

  • Clubhouse Facilities: A comfortable clubhouse with dining options, lockers, and a lounge area can enhance the golfing experience.
  • Pro Shop: Availability of a shop where retirees can buy or rent golfing equipment.
  • Training and Lessons: Facilities that offer training sessions or lessons can be beneficial for retirees looking to improve their game.
  • Health and Wellness: Additional amenities like a spa, fitness center, or swimming pool can be a bonus for retirees.

Scenic Beauty and Location

  • Natural Beauty: Courses that offer beautiful views, be it mountains, lakes, or coastal vistas, can greatly enhance the golfing experience.
  • Landscaping: Well-maintained landscaping with a variety of flora can be pleasing to the eye and make the game more enjoyable.
  • Location: The course’s location in relation to urban areas or natural attractions can be a factor. Some retirees might prefer a course close to the city for convenience, while others might look for a more secluded, tranquil setting.
  • Environmental Practices: Courses that follow sustainable practices and are in harmony with the local ecosystem can be more appealing to environmentally-conscious retirees.

When selecting a golf course, retirees should consider these criteria to ensure they get the best experience tailored to their needs and preferences.

List of Top 11 Golf Courses

Here are some of the best golf courses for retirees:

Pebble Beach Golf Links

Ready to tee off at one of the most iconic courses in California? Let me introduce you to Pebble Beach Golf Links—a breathtakingly beautiful golfing haven that has captured the hearts of pros, amateurs, and retirees alike. Situated along the famously scenic 17-Mile Drive on the Monterey Peninsula, Pebble Beach is home to a surreal juxtaposition of rolling greens, sandy beaches, and rocky shores. Trust me, this golf course is pure magic!

Founded in 1919 and meticulously designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant, Pebble Beach has topped the charts as a favorite among golfing enthusiasts for generations. From hosting major tournaments like the US Open to boasting an impressive list of famed golfers who have graced its greens, it’s almost like walking on hallowed ground.

But wait, there’s more! Pebble Beach Golf Links is not just about its celebrity status. As a retiree, you’ll love how this esteemed course checks all the right boxes in terms of accessibility, variety, amenities, and sheer jaw-dropping beauty.

From gentle holes that meander through lush, forested paths, to challenging holes with thrilling cliffside views of the Pacific Ocean, the course offers an exhilarating yet approachable experience for golfers of any skill level. And don’t forget to pause at the picturesque 7th and 18th holes—perfect spots to bask in the panoramic glory of the ocean crashing against the shore.

When it comes to amenities and facilities, Pebble Beach doesn’t disappoint. The pro shop offers an impressive array of top-notch golfing gear, while the restaurants and bars on site let you savor mouthwatering dishes and a perfect glass of wine as you gaze upon the spectacular landscape. Plus, with the luxurious accommodations at Pebble Beach Resorts, you can turn your golfing escapade into an unforgettable stay that feels like paradise.

Pasatiempo Golf Club

When it comes to California golf courses that are perfect for retirees, you can’t forget about Pasatiempo Golf Club. Tucked away in the charming city of Santa Cruz, this 18-hole wonder is truly a sight to behold.

Designed by the legendary Scottish golf course designer Alister MacKenzie—known for Augusta National and Cypress Point—Pasatiempo Golf Club blends historical charm with modern golfing amenities. Imagine teeing off on the same greens that have seen such golfing luminaries as Bobby Jones, Ken Venturi, and Juli Inkster, and you’ll get a sense of the rich heritage Pasatiempo brings to your golfing experience.

Getting there is a breeze, with it being well-connected and within a comfortable drive from four local airports (Monterey, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose). And for you lovers of scenic beauty, prepare to be awestruck. The course features numerous holes that offer spectacular views of the nearby Monterey Bay.

The beauty of Pasatiempo isn’t just on the surface. The variety of landscapes across its 18 holes provides a thrilling game for golfers of all skill levels. But don’t worry, the twist and turns of its courses aren’t designed just to challenge you but to make your golfing experience more enjoyable.

Additional amenities at Pasatiempo include a Pro shop, golf lessons by appointment, and a SCORE of dining options. After your game, you can refresh yourself at the MacKenzie Bar & Grill or enjoy a quiet dinner at Hollins House.

Overall, retirees, get ready to put Pasatiempo Golf Club on your must-visit list. This semi-private golf club beckons with the promise of an unforgettable golfing experience. After playing a game here, you’ll realize why it’s often considered as Alister MacKenzie’s favorite layout and how it’s aging like a fine wine!

Torrey Pines Golf Course

If a retiree in California is looking for a stunningly beautiful golfing experience, they should definitely tee off at the Torrey Pines Golf Course. This isn’t just a golf course—it’s an exquisite display of nature’s grand design, marrying the rugged coastline with a meticulously designed playing arena.

Perched on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in sunny San Diego, Torrey Pines Golf Course has been a proud host to numerous professional golf tournaments, including the U.S. Open Championship in 2008. When you’re here, you’re not just playing golf—you’re standing in the footprints of legends.

Designed by the esteemed course architect William Bell Sr. and completed by his son, William F. Bell, Torrey Pines first opened its gates in 1957. The golf course provides two incredibly varied 18-hole championship courses—the North and South courses Each course is designed to challenge and thrill golfers of all levels. They present a mix of tight fairways, lush roughs, ample bunkers, and an exceptional length that will test the skills of even the best players in the world

Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or just starting your journey with this gentleman’s game, Torrey Pines doesn’t discriminate. The golf instruction at Torrey Pines is managed by capable professionals who have extensive training and teaching experience. You can receive coaching on all aspects of the game including the unique shots needed to excel at the challenging layouts at Torrey Pines.

Imagine spending a sunny day playing golf, mastering your swing under the watchful eyes of PGA-certified staff, and afterwards, enjoying the spectacular sunsets over the Pacific Ocean—that’s the promise of Torrey Pines!

As a retiree longing for a full golfing experience, Torrey Pines Golf Course offers everything you could wish for. From ease of accessibility to diverse landscapes and immersive golf lessons, right down to postcard-perfect views, Torrey Pines truly is the epitome of golfing utopia for retirees.

CordeValle Golf Club

Revered as the crown jewel of Northern California, CordeValle Golf Club embodies the perfect blend of natural beauty and world-class amenities that golf enthusiasts passionately seek. This award-winning golf course sprawls across 7,360 yards and is tucked away in the breathtaking foothills of the Santa Cruz mountain range—providing a quintessential Northern California golf experience.

Designed by renowned golf architect Robert Trent, the golf course at CordeValle is nothing short of a masterpiece. The 18-hole golf course features a par-72 championship course set against the dramatic backdrop of tree-lined fairways, bent grass greens, and Augusta white-sand bunkers]. The fairways elegantly roll into the hillsides of San Martin, constantly fluctuating in elevation, which adds to the challenge and thrill of the game

Operated just 30 minutes south of San Jose, CordeValle Golf Club extends beyond just golfing. The resort provides luxurious spa retreats, surrounded by the serenity of the Northern California countryside and vineyards. After a day on the course, you can relax and renew with a mix of massage, body, and skin treatments, which use natural herbs, minerals, and essential oils.

For those concerned about inclusivity and access, CordeValle has got you covered. The CordeValle Youth Golf Foundation is committed to expanding opportunities for youth from all income levels to enjoy the sport of golf. The foundation provides a safe environment and positive life experiences for the youth in Santa Clara County golf communities.

CordeValle Golf Club truly is a golfing paradise for retirees, setting the stage for a memorable golfing experience with its stunning landscapes and top-of-the-line amenities. When you visit, you’re not just going for a game of golf, you’re embarking on a journey that indulges all of your senses.

Oak Quarry Golf Club

California boasts some impressive golf courses, and the Oak Quarry Golf Club certainly holds its own within this panorama. This award-winning course is not only recognized for its exceptional layout but also for the breathtaking panorama it offers.

Oak Quarry Golf Club, located in Riverside, is an 18-hole, par-72 public golf course that provides golfers with a unique and challenging experience. The course’s enchanting layout, set against the backdrop of the Jurupa Mountains, was hewn from an old quarry, adding a historic twist to your golf adventure.

Designed by the acclaimed team of Dr. Gil Morgan/Schmidt Curley Design, Oak Quarry snakes its way through towering walls of granite and fields of wildflowers. The rolling fairways, undulating greens, and dramatic elevation changes will certainly provide you an unforgettable round of golf.

Not only does Oak Quarry offer one of the most visually stunning golf courses in the entire country, but it’s also conveniently situated just 50 miles east of Los Angeles. The club garners rave reviews from golfers and critics alike, earning a 4.5 4.5-star rating from Golf Digest in 2010/2011.

The Oak Quarry Pro Shop is stocked with top-tier brands including Titleist, Footjoy, Callaway, TaylorMade, and Nike–well-equipped to assist you in finding the perfect clubs, clothing, and accessories. After your round, you can relax at the club’s restaurant, offering a satisfying way to end a day of golf.

The Links at Spanish Bay

The Links at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, California offers golf lovers a wonderful and challenging golfing experience. Ranked among the top public courses in the U.S by Golf Digest, the 18-hole, par-72 course offers a mixture of seaside, dune, and forest terrain that emulates the classic Scottish feel, offering golfers a course that is as beautiful as it is challenging.

Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Tom Watson, and Sandy Tatum, the course opened in 1987 and has since become a high point of golfing in California. The design beautifully incorporates the magnificent coastal dune landscape of the Monterey Peninsula, making each round of golf a scenic journey with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.

What sets The Links at Spanish Bay apart is its commitment to protecting the native plants, birds, and animals that inhabit these coastal dunes. The layout respects the natural geography, and golfers are encouraged to treat the surrounding environment with care. The course itself sprawls for over 6,821 yards from the championship tees and the layout, with multiple carries over sea, dune, and scrub, challenges even the most accomplished golfers.

After a day at the course, golfers can enjoy a unique tradition—every evening a bagpiper closes the course in Scottish tradition, beginning on the first hole and finishing his round on the 18th green. The sound of time-honoured music against the beautiful coastal setting of the Monterey Peninsula truly adds to the distinct experience this golf course offers.

With well-equipped pro shops and dining areas overlooking the fabulous landscape, The Links at Spanish Bay provides golfers not just with challenging rounds of golf but also premium, resort-style service. It is a ‘must-play’ course for any golfer, providing them with a ‘bucket list’ golfing experience

Grizzly Ranch Golf Club

Nestled in the heart of the million-acre Plumas National Forest, Grizzly Ranch Golf Club offers golfers a unique fusion of high desert landscape and alpine forestation. This semi-private club in Portola, California stakes its claim as the #1 Ranked public-accessible golf course in the Sierra Nevada.

Established in 2005, Grizzly Ranch Golf Club features a championship course meticulously designed by acclaimed golf architect Bob Cupp. The par-72 layout weaves through more than 7,400 yards from the tips and offers five sets of tees to accommodate every player’s skill level. The course flaunts a sprawling layout with generous fairways and broad landing zones.

The terrain showcases a mountainous landscape with elevations that range from 4,800 to 5,400 feet. The intriguing elevation changes coupled with breathtaking views of the surrounding wilderness make for an unforgettable golfing experience.

Visitor reviews of the club highlight its excellent course conditions, friendliness, and amenities. Offering more than just a round of golf, Grizzly Ranch Golf Club’s prominent features include a well-stocked pro shop and a clubhouse that serves as a hub for players to gather and unwind post game.

Pacific Grove Golf Links

Located in Pacific Grove, California, the Pacific Grove Golf Links is an impressive 18-hole golf course renowned for its stunning views and competitive challenge. Often referred to as “poor man’s Pebble Beach,” this picturesque course boasts an attractive blend of coastal scenery, pristine fairways, and rolling greens.

Designed by Chandler Egan in 1932, Pacific Grove Golf Links features a par-72 layout covering a distance of 5,732 yards. The course’s unique design is evident in the gentle rolling fairways framed by Monterey and Cypress pines on the front nine, with the back nine providing dramatic ocean views reminiscent of a traditional Scottish links.

Pacific Grove Golf Links has received fantastic reviews from both local and traveling golfers for its affordability, well-maintained fairways, and overall enjoyable playing experience. The course is also easily accessible, situated at 77 Asilomar Blvd, Pacific Grove, CA 93950[, offering golfers a golfing gem that is both beautiful and challenging.

A highlight of Pacific Grove Golf Links is the Point Pinos Lighthouse, which can be seen from every hole on the back nine, adding to the course’s charm and scenic appeal.

Darkhorse Golf Club

Darkhorse Golf Club: A Pristine Jewel in the Sierra Nevada Foothills

Darkhorse Golf Club, located in Auburn, California, is a public golf course that has quickly gained a reputation for its beauty, challenging layout, and exceptional course conditions. Designed by Keith Foster, the 18-hole, par-72 course stretches over 7,218 yards and nestles in the majestic Sierra Nevada foothills

Since its opening in 2002, the club has captured various accolades for its top-notch facilities and world-class golf experience. Golf Digest has ranked Darkhorse Golf Club #16 among the public-accessible courses in Sacramento and the Sierra Foothill.

The course’s meticulous design and high-quality maintenance have garnered excellent reviews from golfers. Tee times can be easily booked online, and golfers can enjoy an extraordinary golf experience at this Auburn gem.

Aside from its golf course, Darkhorse Golf Club also features the new TOPTRACER Range. This advanced system tracks shot data, transforming practice sessions into an interactive, data-driven experience to help golfers improve their skills.

For those looking for a visual tour of this pristine course, they can find an online video tour on the club’s website. Additionally, the club offers tournaments and other events to make your golfing experience more engaging and memorable.

Darkhorse Golf Club is more than just a regular golfing destination. With its captivating layout, cutting-edge facilities, and stunning Sierra Nevada foothills backdrop, this course offers a challenging and enjoyable experience for golfers of all skill levels.

Sun Lakes Country Club

Sun Lakes Country Club: Southern California’s Premier Active Adult Community

Located in sunny Banning, California, Sun Lakes Country Club is an active adult community with a rich offering of amenities, including an immaculate 36-hole golf course. This 3,000-home community in Southern California has been recognized for its lush landscaping, lovely homes, and abundant social and recreational opportunities, including their sprawling and well-maintained golf facilities.

The golf courses at Sun Lakes offer challenges for beginners and seasoned golfers alike. Designed to make the most of the stunning surroundings, the club has two private golf courses, par-72 courses: the Championship Course and the Executive Course. Both are nestled among lakes and hills, providing stunning views and various landscape features for golfers to navigate.

The Championship Course is a 7,017-yard course known for its long fairways and strategically placed bunkering, offering an exciting challenge to advanced players. In contrast, the Executive Course provides a shorter 3,000-yard game, perfect for beginners or golfers looking for a less intense round.

Beyond the golf courses, Sun Lakes Country Club boasts a pro shop with professional staff ready to assist with golf merchandise and offer tips for improving your game. When it’s time to wind down after a round of golf, players can enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant, which serves up a variety of cuisine with scenic views of the golf course and surrounding mountains.

Myrtle Beach Golf Course, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, often dubbed the “Golf Capital of the World,” is a haven for golf enthusiasts. Nestled along South Carolina’s sun-kissed Atlantic coast, it boasts over 100 beautifully designed golf courses, each offering a unique blend of natural beauty and architectural ingenuity.

The courses range from elite championship layouts to friendly beginner courses, ensuring every golfer, regardless of skill level, finds their perfect match. Many of these courses have been designed by legendary architects like Robert Trent Jones, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer, offering challenging yet rewarding experiences.

Beyond the greens, the panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Intracoastal Waterway, and the region’s lush maritime forests and wetlands provide a serene backdrop, making each round of golf a visual treat.

Moreover, Myrtle Beach’s golf courses are complemented by world-class resorts, pro shops, and training facilities. The area also hosts numerous golf tournaments throughout the year, attracting players from all over the globe.

Whether you’re looking to challenge yourself on a top-tier course, enjoy a leisurely game with friends, or simply soak in the breathtaking views, Myrtle Beach promises an unparalleled golfing experience.

Benefits of Golfing in Retirement

Golf is a popular sport for retirees due to its numerous benefits. This low-impact activity offers a range of physical, mental, and social advantages that make it an excellent choice for those looking to enjoy their retirement and maintain a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.

Physical Health Benefits

  1. Low-impact exercise: Golf provides a mild, low-impact form of exercise, making it suitable for older adults. Walking on the course helps improve cardiovascular health, increase endurance, and lower the risk of various health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.
  2. Muscle strength and flexibility: Golf requires the engagement of various muscle groups, improving overall muscle strength and flexibility. Swinging a golf club works on core muscles, upper body, and leg muscles, helping to maintain muscle tone and flexibility as you age.
  3. Balance and coordination: Golf improves balance and coordination by requiring precise muscle movements to execute a golf swing. Developing better balance can help prevent falls and injuries in seniors.
  4. Calorie burning: Golf helps with weight management, as the combined activities of walking, swinging, and carrying a golf bag can burn around 300 to 500 calories during an 18-hole round.

Mental Health Benefits

  1. Reduced stress: Golfing in a peaceful, natural environment offers an escape from everyday stressors. The physical activity releases endorphins, promoting relaxation and reducing stress levels.
  2. Improved mental focus: Golf requires concentration, strategy, and problem-solving skills. Engaging in mental exercises helps keep the mind sharp, potentially reducing the risk of cognitive decline in older adults.
  3. Boosted confidence: Mastering golf skills through practice and achieving personal goals can boost self-esteem and overall confidence, leading to increased life satisfaction.

Socializing and Golf Community

  1. Social interaction: Golf is a social sport that encourages interaction with others. Golf outings, league play, and tournaments provide opportunities to meet new people and form lasting friendships.
  2. Camaraderie: The shared experiences and challenges faced on the golf course can help forge strong bonds between players, promoting a sense of camaraderie and belonging.
  3. Post-retirement purpose: Participating in golf retirement events and joining golf clubs provide a sense of purpose and belonging for many retirees, helping to establish new routines and structure in their lives.

In conclusion, golf offers numerous physical, mental, and social benefits, making it a fantastic sport for retirees. Embracing golf as a regular activity in retirement can contribute to a healthier, happier, and more fulfilled life.

Tips for Retirees When Choosing a Golf Course

Considering the Level of Difficulty

  • Assess Your Skill Level: Before choosing a course, honestly evaluate your current skill level. If you’re a beginner, you might not enjoy a highly challenging course.
  • Look for Multiple Tees: Courses with multiple tee options can cater to various skill levels, allowing you to choose a tee that matches your comfort zone.
  • Course Layout: Check if the course has a lot of water hazards, bunkers, or requires long drives. If you prefer a more relaxed game, opt for courses with fewer obstacles.
  • Ask About Senior Tees: Some courses offer tees specifically designed for senior players, which can make the game more enjoyable.

Proximity to Home or Retirement Community

  • Travel Time: Consider how long it takes to get to the course. A nearby course means you can play more often without the hassle of long drives.
  • Accessibility: Ensure the course is easily accessible, especially if you have mobility issues. Check if they have adequate parking and easy cart access.
  • Stay-and-Play Packages: Some golf resorts offer stay-and-play packages, which can be ideal for a weekend getaway without traveling far.
  • Local Community Feedback: Talk to fellow retirees in your community. They can provide insights about nearby courses and their experiences.

Membership Benefits

  • Cost-Effectiveness: If you plan to play regularly, memberships can offer cost savings in the long run compared to paying per round.
  • Exclusive Access: Some courses offer members-only tee times, ensuring you can play during peak hours or weekends.
  • Additional Amenities: Many golf clubs offer more than just golf. Look for clubs with additional amenities like swimming pools, fitness centers, or dining options.
  • Guest Privileges: If you enjoy hosting friends or family, check if the membership allows guest privileges and what the associated fees might be.
  • Events and Tournaments: Being a member often gives you access to exclusive events, tournaments, and social gatherings, enhancing your golfing experience and social life.

Remember, the best golf course for you is one that matches your skill level, is conveniently located, and offers benefits that enhance your overall golfing and social experience.

Top Golf Courses for Retirees in California

Top Golf Courses for Retirees in California FAQs

Where is the best inexpensive place to retire for golf?

Nestled just 35 miles outside of Sacramento, lies the charming city of Vacaville. Renowned as the topmost affordable place to retire in the Golden State, Vacaville offers its residents a splendid lifestyle. With picturesque parks like Lagoon Valley Park awaiting exploration, indulging in a delightful shopping experience at premium outlet stores, and the monthly Vacaville Vintage Market, locals are spoiled for choice when it comes to leisurely pursuits.

Where in the US can you golf all year?

Fortunately, there are also golf destinations in the southern and western states that offer year-round play. These warmer regions, including Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas, provide golf enthusiasts with the opportunity to enjoy the sport throughout the year.

How many golf courses are in Southern California?

Southern California boasts an impressive abundance of over 600 golf courses.

How much does it cost to play Pebble Beach course?

$625 is the green fee for a round of golf at Pebble Beach Golf Links. This includes a caddie fee, cart fee, and practice range access. Additional fees may be charged depending on the type of play. Tee times can be booked up to 7 days in advance by phone or online.

Can anyone play at Pebble Beach Golf Course?

Pebble Beach Golf Links welcomes the public with open arms. In fact, it has earned the prestigious title of being the top-ranked Public Course in the entire country. Guests staying at Pebble Beach Resorts have the privilege of reserving a tee time at Pebble Beach Golf Links up to 18 months in advance, subject to minimum stay requirements.


As retirees look for ways to get the most out of their golden years, California golf courses offer a great way to stay physically and mentally active while enjoying breathtaking scenery and the camaraderie of fellow golfers.

From classic links-style championship courses offering rolling terrain to coastal gems with stunning ocean views, there are numerous golfing options for retirees. Not only are these courses enjoyable, but they also provide valuable amenities like clubhouses, grills, and pro shops that create a memorable experience.

And if you’re open to considering alternative retirement options such as reverse mortgages and other methods to leverage your home’s equity as income in retirement, call or schedule a free consultation today – it could just be the key to unlocking the retirement lifestyle you have always dreamed of!

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