An introduction to California

In this blog post, we’re going to take a look at some of the best golf resorts in California.

There is just shy of 1,000 golf courses in California with many of these considered the best in the world. It won’t then come as a surprise that you’ll also find some of the finest golf resorts in the country.

The state of California really is a golfing hotspot. There are a number of different locations dotted throughout the state each offering an abundance of top class golf courses. Places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego and Monterey. Even places like Temecula, Sacramento and Santa Barbara are great for golf!

But where to stay? Yes, there will always be a city centre hotel. But for those looking for something a bit more inclusive, with everything onsite, a golf resort can be the perfect option.

Let’s have a look at some of the best golf resorts in California.

See also: What are the best golf courses in California?

The best golf resorts in California

Best for LuxuryThe Resort at Pelican Hill
Best for GroupsPebble Beach
Best for CouplesLa Quinta Resort & Club
Best for DowntownPark Hyatt Aviara Resort

The best golf resorts in northern California

For the purpose of this post, ‘northern California’ is essentially everything north of Los Angeles.

The coastline runs from Santa Monica, up through Santa Barbara all the way up to the Monterey Peninsula. The it largely finishes around the San Francisco area. 

For anyone half decent with geography, you’ll know there is still around 300 miles of coastline from San Francisco to the northern state line. But from a golf resort perspective, it pretty much stops around San Francisco.

Ritz-Carlton at Half Moon Bay

Very few golf resorts are going to match the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay for prime location. This is a magnificent spot. It’s right atop a secluded bluff with nothing but miles upon miles of pristine Pacific Ocean on view.

Half Moon Bay Golf Links-, San Francisco, California

You literally feel as if you are a million miles away from everything here. Yet within a half hour drive you’re at San Francisco’s international airpor. Just a further ten minutes down the road you’re downtown, so you really have the best of both worlds. 

The Ritz-Carlton just oozes luxury and this is evident in the modern and well-appointed guest rooms. Choose from suites, rooms or guest houses for slightly larger family units. Most rooms will have either an ocean view or a view over one of the two top class golf courses. 

There is a choice of two dining establishments, the Navio which is a splendid seafood restaurant. Nearly all the produce is local, which won’t come as a major surprise. The Conservatory with its modern beach-house decor is the other option. It focuses on Californian cuisine and signature cuts of meat. 

The Spa is hugely popular and has a range of different treatments available. Many take inspiration from its surroundings including for example the Redwood Forest Ritual treatment. Use of the spa also enables access to the sauna, whirlpool and steam rooms. 

Half Moon Bay Golf Links, San Francisco. California

As for the golf, there are two superb courses onsite each of which offers a very different experience. The Arnold Palmer designed Old Course is the older of the two and was opened in 1973. This parkland course is in complete contrast to the more recent Ocean course, the links style layout which runs along the coast.

Pebble Beach (The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay, Casa Palmero)

Anyone who knows anything about golf has heard of Pebble Beach. Although I’d wager a very large percentage of those people know only of the main Pebble Beach golf links.

To be fair, this is not unsurprising as this is one of the most picturesque golf courses in the world. On more than a handful of occasions it has hosted major championships including the U.S. Open.

But there is so much more here. For example, there are three more championship 18-hole golf courses to explore. One of these is Spyglass Hill, one of the best golf courses in the state of California. 

Photo Credit Pebble Beach Company

There is also the superb Spanish Links. It was designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Jr hand-in-hand with Tom Watson and Sandy Tatum, both fans of traditional British golf links. The last 18-hole course, also one of the oldest in the U.S. is Del Monte golf course.

But where to stay? There are three accommodation options here, each one offering something slightly different, so complimenting each other rather than competing. 

The luxury Lodge at Pebble Beach is the one most people request. Even more so as many of the traditionally styled and tastefully decorated guest rooms overlook the famous 18th hole. Most other rooms will have either garden or sumptuous ocean views to enjoy.

My personal favorite is the wonderful Inn at Spanish Bay. It is an elegant lodging which is both contemporary but also cozy. It’s surrounded by Monterey pines and the Spanish Links golf course. 

Photo Credit Joann Dost

The last option is the Mediterranean inspired Casa Palmero, an intimate hideaway of sorts with just 24 rooms. This is the ultimate in bespoke, concierge service and the option if you’re looking to really impress someone (or just splash out). 

Each of these hotels has a fantastic choice of restaurants. At the Lodge you can choose the Mexican inspired Hay’s Place or nip to the Tap Room for an all-American steakhouse. Alternatively enjoy freshly caught and thrown together seafood at the Stillwater Bar & Grill. 

At the Inn, you’ve got the choice of Italian at Peppoli. Hawaiian Fusion food at Roy’s. Or for proper informal bar food, choose Sticks. The most recent addition to the mix is the Stave Wine Cellar, a trendy yet authentic offering with sharing platters and a huge wine menu. 

Is there anything else here I hear you ask? Well actually yes, there happens to be a sensational spa, one of only 90 spas worldwide to have received a Forbes Five Star award. It’s fair to say it’s pretty decent.

Pebble Beach Golf Links is what everyone knows. But this really is the full-package and one of the finest golf resorts in California. A choice of world-class golf courses, outstanding cuisine, and a pretty awesome spa.

The best golf resorts in southern California

It seems a little disingenuous calling the short stretch of coastline from Los Angeles down to San Diego as ‘southern California’. But purely from a golf perspective, this area packs one hell of a punch.

There are two main areas I’m going to focus on. Firstly the stretch of coastline from La Jolla in north San Diego to Carlsbad. And then secondly inland to the desert city of Palm Springs.

La Quinta Resort & Club

This world-class golf resort is spread across 45 acres of viridescent grounds. Imposing Santa Rosa mountains loom ominously in the background. 

One of two golf resorts on this list in the desert city of Palm Springs, La Quinta is like a mini-Oasis. There is a real charm about this place with its Mediterranean inspired architecture, white-washed walls and lush verdant landscaping. 

Photo credit La Quinta Resort & Club

There is a wide choice of guest rooms with a number of suites and executive rooms also on offer. The decor is simple, comfortable and cozy. 

There are three superb dining options. Morgan’s in the Desert focuses on simple and healthy contemporary American cuisine. The immensely popular Adobe Grill is an explosion of Mexican cuisine served alongside some of the best margaritas in town. 

Lastly, Twenty 6 is a modern American bistro. It aspires to blend the best of a downtown trendy L.A. restaurant, with the relaxing vibe of La Quinta. This is as popular for eating as it is for simply coming for a drink. 

The Spa at La Quinta is a peaceful sanctuary with private gardens and baths, focusing on enhancing health and beauty. De-stress with one of the many full-body massages or if the fancy takes you, get a manicure or pedicure. 

When it comes to golf, you’re spoilt for choice. Alongside the litany of golf courses in the area, there are five which are affiliated to the resort. Each of them have their own clubhouse.

Mountain Course, La Quinta, Palm Spring, California

You have the Greg Norman course, the Pete Dye designed Stadium Course, the Mountain and Dunes Courses and finally the Jack Nicklaus Course. There are few golf resorts in California which can match La Quinta for golf!

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort

The wonderful Park Hyatt Aviara Resort is just a few minutes drive from central Carlsbad. It is also just over a half hour’s drive into downtown San Diego. It has a wonderful spot overlooking the Batiquitos Lagoon just minutes from the Pacific coastline.

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, California

Oozing luxury, the resort has received its fair share of acclaim over the years. It has been awarded the prestigious Forbes Five-Star luxury resort recognition as well as being AAA Five-Diamond. All this luxury is surrounded by 200 acres of stunning countryside.

The five-star experience continues into the guest rooms and suites of which there are well over 300 to choose from. Everything from 1-2 bedroom King rooms, up to a huge choice of different suites. 

The Aviara Spa is an immense 15,000 square foot building with 20 treatment rooms. It features an indoor solarium lounge and fitness centre whilst offering a number of wellbeing treatments. Indeed the VeraVia wellbeing offering was recognised as one of the Top Five Best Places in the world for mind-body rejuvenation by the Wall Street Journal. 

Park Hyatt Aviara Family Pool, California

Hungry? Ember & Rye is a collaboration with the widely acclaimed chef Richard Blais and offers vintage steaks and fresh seafood. Ponto Lago offers local Baja-inspired cuisine with a wide range of cocktails. And lastly the chic lobby bar of Pacific Point is an informal terrace setting with some lite options to tuck into.

The Aviara golf course is the only course designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer in San Diego. It is also visually one of the most impressive. Like the hotel onsite, it has also received its fair share of recognition. Golf Digest and Golf Magazine both recognize it as one of the best resort courses in the country.

The Resort at Pelican Hill

In Los Angeles’ southern outskirts towards the Crystal Cove State Park, are the 504 acres of land within which the uber-luxury Pelican Hill is hidden away. 

The plot of land here is superb, with nothing but panoramic Pacific views. This really is a sanctuary of seclusion, on the outskirts of one of the biggest cities in the world yet so utterly peaceful as a coastal retreat. 

The guest rooms here consist of a number of elegant villas and bungalows of which many have delightful coastal views. Alternatively, many have views of the beautifully designed Italian landscaped gardens. Walking through the resort is like walking through an ancient Tuscan village, with scaled streets and scenic pathways. 

There is of course the obligatory Spa here, a small haven where you can indulge in any number of personalized pampering opportunities. It includes steam rooms, saunas and saltwater soaking tubs to relax. 

Like many of the fantastic resorts we’ve looked at already, the dining options here are divine. What I like about the Pelican Hill resort is that regardless of which restaurant you choose, each one has an ocean-view terrace. 

The three main restaurants include the popular Pelican Bar and Grill serving wood-fired pizzas and. butcher-cut steaks. The Coliseum is a pool-side diner serving lite bites, whilst the superb Andrea serves delightful Italian dishes using nothing but the freshest ingredients.

And finally on to the golf where there are 36-holes designed by the highly respected Tom Fazio. There is the Ocean North Course and the Ocean South Course and frankly, both are divine. They have stunning ocean views and are just perfectly manicured. This is top class resort golf.

The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa

The last but by no means the least, the impressive Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort is right over in east Palm Springs in the city of Rancho Mirage. This is the Coachella Valley, an arid valley in a desert landscape, and it is here in complete contrast you have the luscious Mission Hills resort.

The resort is nestled into 360 acres of landscaped gardens and so highly rated is this place, it was ranked as one of the Top 50 Golf Resorts in North America by Golf Digest. 

The rooms here are super spacious with all the luxury amenities you would expect. Enjoy either mountain or desert views around Rancho Mirage as well as the beautiful gardens.

There are several dining experiences on offer but two main restaurants to eat in. The Fireside Lounge offers a range of tapas and cocktails while Pinzimini is an Italian restaurant serving the usual Italian fare. Pinz and Pints is your super-informal retreat, where you can enjoy typical pub food, beer on tap and get stuck into some ten-pin bowling.

The Spa here is renowned for its relaxing therapeutic massages. It also offers a range of body wraps, luxury manicures and pedicures and hydrating facials. With three resort pools, tennis courts and a fitness centre, you certainly won’t be lacking ideas if you don’t fancy playing golf. 

But why wouldn’t you want to play golf! The course here is awesome. Granted, there are just 18 holes, but this is a Pete Dye masterclass in golf course design.

Set amongst rolling hills with awe-inspiring desert mountain views, it is a visual amphitheatre. The fairways are generous in parts as long as you steer clear of the huge bunkers. Greens are fast but fair, this is just wicked golf.

*Occasionally I will recommend services which I think add value to you the user, and offer you a way to find out more about a particular golf resort or course. If you make a purchase by clicking one of the links, I may earn an affiliate fee. However, please rest assured is 100% independent and these commissions in no way influence the content OR rankings 🙂

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