US Open
By: Brent Walter

Want to play on a US Open golf course? The US Open has a storied history filled with the legendary names of the world's best golfers and toughest courses. Although you may never be a legendary golfer, you can find and play some of the legendary US Open golf courses. You can trace the steps of Jack Nicklaus' 1972 US Open victory at Pebble Beach or Payne Stewart's 1999 US Open win at No. 2 Course at Pinehurst. Although most golf courses that host the US Open are closed to the public, here are the ones you can play on, even if you aren't a pro golfer.

US Open Golf Courses You Can Play

    The US Open is managed by the United States Golf Association, which prides itself on selecting golf courses that test players' mental and physical abilities (Parker). If the USGA has deemed a course worthy of the US Open, you can bet it will test even the best golfer's skills (Chastain). But don't worry. You don't have to be a pro to play these courses. All you need is a love for the game. If you're in awe of the legends and up to the challenge, here are four public US Open courses you have to play:

Pebble Beach Golf Links, located in Pebble Beach, California, has hosted the US Open four times -- 1972, 1982, 1992 and 2005 -- since the course's inception in 1919 (Pebble Beach). Renown for its beautiful ocean views and challenging design, Pebble Beach is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, public golf course in America. Golf Digest ranked it first among America's greatest public golf courses in 2005 (Whitten). The 18-hole course has a par of 72, championship rating of 73.8 and length of 6,737 yards (Pebble Beach). The scenic yet difficult course has been played by some of the greatest golfers in history. Players such as Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have won the US Open on its greens (USGA).
    If you want to walk in the footsteps of legends, it will cost you. One round at Pebble Beach Golf Links costs about $450 (Pebble Beach). Hopefully, your pockets are as deep as your love of golf.

Pinehurst Resort and Country Club Course No. 2, located in the Village of Pinehurst, North Carolina, has played host twice for the US Open, in 1999 and 2005 (USGA). The course was built by hand with the help of mules in 1903 and was designed by Donald J. Ross to challenge even the best golfers' short and long games ("2005 U.S. Open: Course Background"). Pinehurst No. 2 is one of the best public golf courses in the US, ranked second by Golf Digest among America's greatest public golf courses in 2005 (Whitten). Pinehurst No. 2 was also where Payne Stewart made one of the most memorable putts in US Open history, sinking a 15-footer to win his second US Open in remarkable fashion ("2005 U.S. Open: Course Background").
    To get onto any of the eight Pinehurst courses, you must either stay at the resort or enroll in their golf school ("Rates & Specials"). Pinehurst offers a variety of packages ranging from one round per day to unlimited play to a luxury championship package ("Rates & Specials"). Prices range from around $300 per person to over $2000. If golf is your passion, the high price tag may be worth it to play where the pros do, even if your swing bears no resemblance.

Bethpage State Park Black Course, in Farmingdale, New York, was the first truly public course ever to host the US Open (McManemin). Built in 1935 by the Long Island State Park Commission and designed by Albert Warren Tillinghast, the Bethpage Black Course stretches 7,214 yards and has a par of 70 (U.S. Open). The course hosted the US Open in 2002, which was won by Tiger Woods, and will again play host in 2009 (USGA). Among other accolades, Bethpage Black Course was ranked seventh in Golf Digest's list of America's greatest public golf courses for 2005 (Whitten).
    The greens fees for Bethpage are inline with its public course title. Weekday rates are $41 for residents and $82 for visitors, and on weekends the prices jump to $51 for residents and $102 for visitors (New York State Office of Parks). Those are great prices to pay to play the same greens as the likes of Tiger Woods and the numerous other PGA pros.

Torrey Pines South Course, located in La Jolla, California, will play host to the US Open in 2008 (USGA). The course is owned and operated by the City of San Diego and was recently remodeled in 2001 by golf course architect Rees Jones (The City of San Diego). The course is 7,607 yards long and nestled between towering mountains and the Pacific Ocean. In fact, seven holes have perfect views of the Pacific (The City of San Diego). Its picturesque setting and challenging layout have earned it a place in Golf Digest's list of America's top 100 greatest public golf courses (Whitten).
    Because Torrey Pines is a municipal course, its greens fees are very reasonable, especially considering the quality of the course. The weekday prices for 18 holes are $41 for residents of San Diego and $130 for visitors. For weekends, the prices jump up to $47 for residents and $163 for visitors. Thankfully, you won't have to break the bank to scout out the site of the 2008 US Open.

    For all those times you wished you could play in the US Open Championship like the pros, here are a few golf courses where you can at least drive onto the same fairways and putt on the same greens. You may never swing good enough to qualify for a US Open, but don't let that stop you from playing on the best golf courses, like the pros.

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