THE BEST STATES FOR A GOLF VACATION

We pride ourselves on knowing what our customers care about. And while we’d hope that most golfers would spend a golf shopping spree on a new set of clubs, it turns out that 38 percent of respondents would go on a golf vacation, if given a few thousand dollars to splurge.

So, where would they go?

Well, we don’t know. Unfortunately, the surveyors didn’t ask that question — but we can tell you where you should go to get the most bang for your buck, based off of the cost of the trip, the climate, how crowded the courses are, and of course how good the courses are.

So in the event that you’re ever given $3,000 to spend on a golf trip (the amount from the survey), we went ahead and pulled data from half a dozen sources to objectively rate each state by which ones are the best states for a golf getaway.

That’s right, a data-focused review without a "golfiness" score or personal opinions. Here are your top ten:

Rank State Cost Rank Course Rank Weather Rank
1 Kansas 2 19 7
2 Minnesota 1 13 20
3 Florida 27 2 12
4 California 41 1 6
5 North Carolina 18 6 19
6 Iowa 6 3 24
7 Arizona 35 11 1
8 Wisconsin 3 5 32
9 Idaho 14 28 9
10 Michigan 15 20 17

We go into detail about our methodology and rankings in the next section; if your state isn’t in the top ten, you can see the full chart with all of the ranking categories further down to find where you should spend your next tax refund.

And we also have a little callout to the worst states for a golf trip too.

How we objectively chose the best states for a golf trip

We wanted to come up with a metric that looked at what you’d actually care about when you decide to secure that green time and book that flight: the cost of the trip and the likelihood that you would actually enjoy your time on the links.

We selected nine factors and gave them a multiplier of one, two, or three dependent upon how important we thought they’d be to a person booking a trip. We gave factors affecting the cost the most value :

Less value went to things we thought would affect your playing, such how crowded the course would be and, again, the weather:

  • Hours of sunshine
  • Total number of courses in each state
  • Number of courses per capita
The least value went to how easy it would be to pick up equipment and souvenirs:

  • Golf stores per capita
  • What percentage of their sales were for golf products

So, we didn’t really care about things like how many pro golfers come from the state, how many top 100 private courses there are, or even how many sets of clubs we ship to a given state.

And of course, no "golfiness" score based off of how much we at Carl’s associate a given state with golf.

But first, a special shout-out to Michigan

Number of top ten public courses: 5

Course number rank: 4

Tenth place in this ranking isn’t too shabby, but there should be an asterisk next to the Wolverine State. You see, the state of Michigan doesn’t provide Economic Census data, for some reason, and to combat bias we placed it in last place for all of the categories it didn’t provide.

In spite of the artificially low rankings from lack of data, Michigan’s massive golf community enjoys some of the finest courses in the country and significantly cooler summer weather, making it worth some special attention for anyone looking to take a golf vacation this year.

1. Kansas

kansas golf course vacation

Round-trip flight cost: $279

Green fee rank: 7

Did anyone see this one coming?

Kansas gets a big boost from having the cheapest round-trip flights in the country and the seventh cheapest green fees, but it also fairs pretty well in every other category (except top public courses).The weather’s good, the courses are plentiful, and you can afford to play pretty much anywhere.

2. Minnesota

minnesota golf course vacation

Courses per capita: 5,271

Round-trip flight rank: 5

Even though it doesn’t rank high on many sites’ "golfiness" metrics (and we don’t use one at all), Minnesota has a high one on paper. With three top public courses, tons of golf stores, and a surprisingly high number of courses, Minnesota also benefits from low cost flights and green fees.

3. Florida

florida golf course vacation

Number of courses: 1.024

Green fees rank: 45

It’s no surprise to see Florida on this list, even though you might be surprised that it’s not number one or two. It’s got powerful rankings in every category except for the cost to play in its thousand-plus courses and five top 100 public courses.

4. California

california golf course vacation

Clear days each year: 146

People-to-courses rank: 4

Take what I said about Florida and you basically have the same story for California. Not only does it have beautiful weather and the fourth most top 100 public courses, but it also has a massive number of courses and enough flights to keep costs surprisingly low. But supply and demand doesn’t seem to affect the amount it charges for green fees.

5. North Carolina

north carolina golf course vacation

Number of top 100 public courses: 7

Course number rank: 9

The Land of the Pine and home of Pinehurst is host to a surprisingly strong nexus of golf, with mountain courses only a three-hour drive from beach courses. North Carolina made it into the top five by performing fairly well in every category and pretty well in quite a few.

What it takes to be a great state for a golf vacation

For starters, you’ll see the the states in the top ten for golf vacations were generally in the top ten in at least two categories.

Notably, only one of the usual golf powerhouses of California, Florida, and Arizona in the top three of this ranking, with super-cheap travel and green fee costs boosting several states in the Midwest into our rankings.

And the opposite is true when we look at the states that make up the worst states for golf vacations.

these states rank pretty badly across the board, and with the exception of Vermont the main culprit seems to be expensive flights and bad weather most of the year being the factors that clinch it.

Complete rankings for the best states for a golf getaway

Rank State Cost Rank Course Rank Weather Rank
1 Kansas 2 19 7
2 Minnesota 1 13 20
3 Florida 27 2 12
4 California 41 1 6
5 North Carolina 18 6 19
6 Iowa 6 3 24
7 Arizona 35 11 1
8 Wisconsin 3 5 32
9 Idaho 14 28 9
10 Michigan 15 20 17
11 Nebraska 5 4 43
12 Colorado 37 16 4
13 South Carolina 17 38 16
14 Virginia 25 27 15
15 Arkansas 31 15 14
16 Georgia 40 10 13
17 Illinois 23 8 36
18 Indiana 12 7 42
19 Kentucky 7 17 38
20 Massachusetts 20 23 29
21 Hawaii 32 29 23
22 Wyoming 4 50 11
23 Missouri 29 25 22
24 Nevada 45 37 2
25 South Dakota 13 41 18
26 Connecticut 19 22 41
27 Maine 21 24 34
28 Mississippi 36 18 21
29 Ohio 11 21 45
30 Oregon 24 14 44
31 Oklahoma 43 40 5
32 New Hampshire 10 44 40
33 Delaware 26 33 30
34 Pennsylvania 28 26 37
35 North Dakota 16 39 27
36 Rhode Island 9 49 31
37 Texas 49 31 10
38 Alabama 44 12 28
39 New York 33 9 47
40 New Mexico 47 47 3
41 Montana 30 42 35
42 Utah 39 46 8
43 Maryland 48 32 26
44 Louisiana 46 30 25
45 Tennessee 38 35 33
46 Vermont 8 48 46
47 New Jersey 42 34 39
48 Washington 34 36 49
49 West Virginia 22 45 48
50 Alaska 50 43 50