The 17 most awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping and spectacular oceanside holes in America

July 27, 2019
Half Moon Bay, Hole 18

Nothing ignites the golfer’s spirit quite like teeing it up alongside the ocean. As such, we’ve identified the 17 best examples of oceanside golf in the U.S. We decided on no bays, gulfs, sounds or fjords on this list, just the greatest holes in American golf that play next to the Atlantic or the Pacific.

Cypress Point Club, Pebble Beach, Calif.
16th hole, par 3, 231 yards

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Many experts say this is the greatest hole in golf, period. Never mind one of the finest par 3s on the planet. Giving Alister MacKenzie this otherworldly plot of land established a standard that other architects might rightly call unfair. Play this one and you instantly have your eternal go-to golf story.

Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach, Calif.
8th hole, par 4, 428 yards

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Jack Nicklaus has long proclaimed this to be the greatest second shot-par-4 in golf. Who are we to argue? Of course, it’s also home to one of least inspiring tee shots in golf, but it is still one of the greatest holes in the game thanks to that stunning approach. From a tee perched by the Pacific, the drive is blind and must be struck no more than 240 yards to hold up short of a gaping abyss. That leaves a 175-to-190-yard shot over an ocean-battered gap in the cliffs to a small green ringed with five bunkers. Yeah, good luck with that!

Mauna Kea Golf Course, Big Island, Hawaii
3rd hole, par 3, 272 yards

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Robert Trent Jones’ single most dramatic hole is this gargantuan 272-yarder that asks for a smash across the pounding Pacific surf from an isolated tee box set into 5,000-year-old black lava rock.

Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach, Calif.
18th hole; par 5, 536 yards

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Pebble is good for two spots on the list, thanks to its epic par-5 closer, with the Pacific running all the home up the left side. The old cypress in the center of the fairway is one of the most famous trees in the game.

Pacific Dunes, Bandon, Ore.,
13th hole, par 4, 444 yards

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This hole dates only to 2001, but this Tom Doak-crafted par 4 looks like it’s been here 100 years thanks to its seamless integration into a jaw-dropping setting that features a giant natural dune, blowout bunkers and the Pacific Ocean.

Cypress Point Club, Pebble Beach, Calif.
15th hole, par 3, 143 yards

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It’s a setting as stunning as a national park; it just happens to have a golf hole built on it. Alister MacKenzie has brought you through the pines and around coastal dunes, and now, as his masterwork builds to a crescendo, he gives you this: your first arresting close-up with the sea. Simply unforgettable. And almost as good as the holes that follow it.

Bandon Dunes, Bandon, Ore.
16th hole, par 4, 363 yards

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Architect David McLay Kidd shaped the diagonal ridge in the field — it wasn’t in the plans — and created an astounding, option-laden test. A safe play to the lower fairway on the right leaves a semi-blind approach. The tougher tee shot to the upper left landing area leaves an easier approach. No matter which you choose, the Pacific Ocean will gobble up a wild slice.

Kapalua Resort (Plantation), Maui, Hawaii,
18the hole, par 5, 663 yards

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If you’ve ever wanted to reach a 663-yard par-5 in two, here’s your chance, thanks to this downhill-plunging Coore-Crenshaw creation that features a broad fairways slope and a speed slot into the green. Pacific panoramas add more icing to this distinctive cake, where it will take clever ground game prowess — and avoiding the jungle that frames the fairway — to post a red number.

Maidstone Golf Club, East Hampton, N.Y.
14th hole, par 3, 152 yards

The 14th hole at Maidstone on Long Island.
The 14th hole at Maidstone on Long Island.
LC Lambrecht

Up on the tee, most of the bunkers are hidden, leaving the golfer with a stunning view of the green and sea beyond. One of the most spectacular spots on Long Island, and indeed, all of the U.S.

Pacific Dunes, Bandon, Ore.
11th hole, par 3, 148 yards

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If you get lost in thought while gazing out at the Pacific, this little par 3 can become a scorecard-wrecker, as it’s flanked on all sides by native grass, sand traps and dense gorse bushes.

Manele Golf Club, Lanai, Hawaii
12th hole, par 3, 202 yards

Manele Golf Club

Another cliffside heart-stopper, the 12th is a dramatic forced-carry, with the pounding surf, and perhaps a few spinner dolphins, waiting below. The dramatic scene can create vivid memories. The tee box was the scene of Bill and Melinda Gates’ wedding in 1994.

Hammock Beach Resort (Ocean), Palm Coast, Fla.
9th hole, par 4, 468 yards

Hammock Beach

Heavy native shrubs — a few deep bunkers — line the entire right side of the hole, which help wayward shots avoid both the beach and a splash landing. This Jack Nicklaus design (Ed. note: Nicklaus Companies and GOLF.com are affiliates of 8AM Golf) received a remake after Hurricane Matthew hit it hard in 2016, and six holes now boast unobstructed ocean views. For our money, No. 9 is still the prize.

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort, Kiawah Island, S.C.
18th hole, par 4, 439 yards

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The tee shot is demanding, and the approach, with the ocean heaving in the background, is downright knee-knocking. You can imagine the pressure Ryder Cup competitors felt during an epic duel in 1991 that came to be known as the “War by the Shore,” which came down to Bernhard Langer’s missed 6-footer on this green.

Poipu Bay Golf Course, Kauai, Hawaii
16th hole, par 4, 501 yards

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Robert Trent Jones dubbed this hole “the Pebble Beach of the Pacific.” It’s the longest par 4 on the course and one of the sturdiest in all of Hawaii. A small lake lurks right off the fairway to catch tee shots, and the ocean runs all the way up the left.

Half Moon Bay Golf Links (Old), Half Moon Bay, Calif.
18th hole, par 4, 405 yards

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With the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay long and left, and the ocean cliffs lurking just right of the green, the second shot here is one that will truly take your breath away.

Dunes Golf Course Monterey Peninsula
14th hole, par 3

Chip Hnderson

A sweet hole that requires golfers to cross 17 Mile Drive to reach the tee. A lone cypress tree was planted during a renovation a few years ago, and it sits out near the green to make your social-media snaps that much more gorgeous.

Cypress Point Club, Pebble Beach Calif.
17th hole, par 4, 393 yards

The 17th at Cypress Point.
The 17th at Cypress Point.
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OK, so that’s three holes from the same course, but can you really argue? The 17th is a stunner in its own right, with the Pacific on all sides, and it’s completely deserving of the anchor spot on our list.