Golf's 10 best entrances, ranked (2024)

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By Drew Powell and Stephen Hennessey

June 27, 2024

What makes a great golf course entrance? Go ahead, scoff now if you must. It might feel like a meaningless and superficial detail, but when done right, a proper entrance immerses you in the new world you’ve entered and builds anticipation of the course you’ll soon experience. It’s an appetizer that every great golf course has, but where are the very best entrances in the game?

That’s the question we put to our over 1,800 course-rating panelists, who have traveled the country in pursuit of the best course architecture. Along the way, they’ve encountered those historic, serene and inspiring entrances that stuck with them long after they submitted their assessment of the course itself.

If all this feels a bit pretentious, we hear you, but also consider that many of the courses on this list earned their spot by being exactly the opposite—unassuming, minimalist roads with discreet signage leading to some of the top clubs in the country. Until we secure our tee times and permission to cross these coveted gates, let's live vicariously through those lucky enough to have already done so.

We urge you to click through to each individual course page for bonus photography, drone footage and reviews from our course panelists. Plus,you can now leave your own ratings on the courses you’ve played… to make your case why your favorite should be ranked higher.

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Golf's 10 best entrances, ranked (2)

Jared C. Tilton

Private

1. Augusta National Golf Club
Augusta, GA, United States

5

94 Panelists

  • 100 Greatest
  • Best In State

Turning off Washington Road onto Magnolia Lane is perhaps the most surreal feeling in golf. You feel like you don't belong, and odds are you don't. Lucky enough to have a tee time? The security guard points down the road, as if you need further construction. You've lived vicariously through tour pros sharing video of their drives in the past. It's finally your time. The prospects of playing Augusta National truly feels real when you do the drive down Magnolia Lane ... and you let your car coast as slow as can be. It's likely that will be your only time making golf's most coveted drive.

Explore our full review

Golf's 10 best entrances, ranked (3)

John Sabino

Private

2. Yeamans Hall Club
Charleston, SC, United States

4.5

174 Panelists

  • Second 100 Greatest
  • Best In State

The entrance at Yeamans Hall captures the laidback low country vibe that characterizes the Charleston area. Large oak trees hang over the understated gate, and as you drive down the weaving entrance road, moss drips from the trees. Yeamans Hall was designed by Seth Raynor in the 1920s, and many of our panelists note that the entrance feels as though it’s stuck in time.

Panelist review: "The gate is magnificent, and a feature in and of itself. Then there is a beautiful winding road through majestic live oaks with Spanish moss dripping from them. Then, you finally get a view of the course. Just remember: cars must yield to golfers!"

Explore our full review

Golf's 10 best entrances, ranked (4)

Carlos Amoedo

Private

3. Pine Valley Golf Club
Pine Valley, NJ, United States

5

267 Panelists

  • 100 Greatest
  • Best In State

Finding Pine Valley is almost as hard as securing an invitation. As our Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde says in our "Every Hole At: Pine Valley" video: "First you have to find it. Before GPS, before navigation systems, even the closest gas stations had no idea how to get there. It's somewhere in southwest New Jersey near Philadelphia. Get off the interstate, head to the Clementon Amusem*nt Park. Then listen for the cries." We're sure the security guards at the gate get a kick out of the fresh faces meeting them on arrival, compared to the battered and sweaty looks like they get on the way home.

Panelist review: "You drive along a nondescript road, turn right, cross the railroad tracks and enter what feels like an entirely new town. It's unexpected and understated, which somehow enhances the anticipation. Once you get to the shack, you know you’re about to enter a special place."

Explore our full review

Golf's 10 best entrances, ranked (5)

Conor Ralph

Private

4. National Golf Links of America
Southampton, NY, United States

4.9

255 Panelists

  • 100 Greatest
  • Best In State

At National Golf Links of America, you cross the grand gates and enter golf history. The course on the tip of Long Island was where Seth Raynor got his start, surveying holes for architect C.B. Macdonald—holes that would bring the best designs of the British Isles across the ocean. The entrance road winds beside a few of the holes—soak it all in. Glance left and appreciate the towering, iconic windmill, an early reminder that you’re at a special place, if you’d somehow already forgotten.

Panelist review: "Eagles on the gate watch over you as you enter the historic property. The drive in gives you a tantalizing first glance at the beauty you'll soon experience first-hand."

Explore our full review

Golf's 10 best entrances, ranked (6)

Courtesy of the club

Private

5. The Preserve Golf Club
Carmel, CA, United States

4.2

205 Panelists

  • Second 100 Greatest
  • Best In State

The drive into The Preserve Golf Club in Carmel, Calif., is perhaps the most unique in golf.Once you enter through the main gate, you’ve got nine miles until you reach the clubhouse. The drive traverses rolling terrain and passes through towering redwoods and mossy oak groves. Keep an eye out for deer, coyote and quail, which frequent the surrounding hills.From a strictly aesthetic standpoint, the entrance at the Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel, Calif., is tough to beat. The length and beauty make this entrance one of the most unique in golf.

Panelist review: “The drive is miles and miles through a nature preserve. You drive 30 minutes from the guardhouse straight up a mountain, which is certainly something I’ve never seen before. No houses. No cell service. Just pristine forest.”

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Golf's 10 best entrances, ranked (8)

Private

6. Congaree Golf Club
Ridgeland, SC, United States

4.8

150 Panelists

  • 100 Greatest
  • Best In State

It's quite the journey through the lowcountry of Jasper County, S.C., one of the poorest counties in the United States, to finding Congaree. Once you arrive, you're greeted with a canopy of towering Spanish moss trees that perfectly fit the vibe of the former plantation turned golf oasis.

Panelist review: "A perfect low country introduction. Nondescript gate, long winding road, pull up on the massive complex. Its magnificent."

Explore our full review

Golf's 10 best entrances, ranked (9)

Public

7. Shadow Creek
North Las Vegas, NV, United States

4.8

148 Panelists

  • 100 Greatest
  • 100 Greatest Public
  • Best In State

Arriving at a golf course in a limo, as is required to access Shadow Creek, is bizarre enough. When the MGM-branded limo abruptly turns right after the 20-or-so minute drive from the strip, you’re instantly transported from a benign-looking street in North Las Vegas into a different world, driving through large pines with pine straw underneath as if you’re in North Carolina, until you arrive at the quaint clubhouse, which gives Augusta National vibes.

Panelist review: "It’s like stumbling upon an oasis in the middle of the desert. They pick you up in a limo, and you drive through perfectly manicured grounds with a few glimpses of the course, which builds the anticipation."

Explore our full review

Golf's 10 best entrances, ranked (10)

Private

8. Cypress Point Club
Pebble Beach, CA, United States

5

231 Panelists

  • 100 Greatest
  • Best In State

Drive down 17-Mile Drive on the Monterrey Peninsula and you might miss the small square sign that marks one of the most famous clubs in the world. Is this really it? The lack of pretension is striking and adds to the allure of the property, say many of our panelists. Like many of the entrances on this list, the sign is far more than a sign—it’s a marker of history, prestige and the beauty that lies beyond.

Panelist review: "The unpretentious, basic sign along 17-Mile Drive says 'Members Only.' Beyond it? One of the best courses in the world."

Explore our full review

Golf's 10 best entrances, ranked (11)

Jimmie James

Private

9. Sand Hills Golf Club
Mullen, NE, United States

4.9

174 Panelists

  • 100 Greatest
  • Best In State

Sand Hills proved the concept of remote, destination golf can work, and this sign is a welcome sign to all who have traveled far and wide to play one of the world's best modern layouts.

Panelist review: "The very small, wooden sign is easily missed. It’s simple, just like Sand Hills. You are in the middle of nowhere and drive two miles on the driveway to get to the clubhouse. The long, remote drive makes you eager to see what you know awaits when you get there."

Explore our full review

Golf's 10 best entrances, ranked (12)

Patrick Koenig

Private

10. The Bridge
Sag Harbor, NY, United States

4.5

114 Panelists

  • Best In State

The Bridge isn’t what you’d think when you picture a Long Island private club with a seven-figure initiation fee. It trades stuffiness for eccentricity, apparent right as you cross through the gate which reads “Chevron Gasolines”—a tribute to the racetrack origins of the property. The land was once home to the Bridgehampton Motor Racing Circuit, and the long runway entrance seems to encourage you to give the pedal a little nudge.

Panelist review: "It preserves the spirit of the property’s past life as a racetrack. The racetrack artifacts and the sign that reads 'There will be no miracles here' is next level. It’s a long, tree-lined ride, but go ahead and step on the pedal to get the true racetrack feel."

Explore our full review

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Golf's 10 best entrances, ranked (2024)

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