Best Public Golf Courses in North Dakota
Also known as the “Roughrider State”, North Dakota is one of the quainter, more rural states in the US, perfect for a relaxing countryside vacation. Almost 90% of its total land area is composed of farmlands and ranches. It is home to a population of 723,393 which makes it the fourth least populous state in the country. Some of its major cities are Fargo, Grand Forks, Minot, West Fargo, Mandan, and the state capital, Bismarck.
With a diverse topography that’s abundant in natural resources, North Dakota is teeming with stunning natural landmarks. On its western side lies the hilly Great Plains and the top half of the Badlands with its gorgeous rock features. Nearby is the Missouri River and Lake Sakakawea. North Dakota’s central region is split into the gently rolling hills and small lakes of Drift Prairie, as well as the high plains of the Missouri Plateau, rising to an impressive 3,000 feet above sea level. Spend a few days visiting these sites, and you’ll easily come to appreciate why this was former President Theodore Roosevelt’s favorite state.
For avid golfers, North Dakota is well-worth the trip due to its abundance of excellent courses and premier golfing destinations, such as Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck, and Minot. There are 121 golf courses all throughout the state. Golfing here is best enjoyed during the spring and towards the tail end of summer, as its continental climate can make for some very humid summers and chilly winters.
Listed below is our guide for the top 10 best public golf courses in North Dakota, along with a few semi-private courses which allow public access through daily fee rates.
Best Golf Courses in North Dakota
Location: Bismarck, North Dakota
Hole: 18 Par: 72 Length: 7,085 yards
Our top pick for the best public golf course in North Dakota is the Hawktree Golf Club. Situated just a few miles outside of the state capital, Hawktree Golf Club has quickly made a name for itself in the short span of time it’s been around due to its spectacular scenery, impeccable course conditions, and extraordinary layout.
Rated 4.5 stars by Golf Digest and ranked 2nd on their list of the “Best New Affordable Public Courses in America” when it opened in 2000, this highly reputable golf course is regarded as one of architect Jim Engh’s best work. With the perfect blend of Scottish-links style and contemporary architectural design, the course at Hawktree Golf Club flaunts Bent Grass greens and Bluegrass fairways all throughout its 18-hole track.
Water is an important element in this course. Crafted from a slab of riverside terrain near Missouri River, Burnt Creek runs through and around half of the 18 fairways, while three other holes are surrounded by corresponding man-made lakes. Other challenges include the ferocious gusts of wind that are common in this region; pronounced elevation changes, which make for some truly wonderful bird’s eye views; and bunkers filled with black sand, adding a unique visual element that makes the course all the more memorable.
Hawktree G.C. has a championship-caliber course that is both challenging and satisfying for all players with varying skill levels. Throughout your round, you will also be treated to flourishing wildlife and native grasses that abound all throughout the 18 distinctive holes. The best of the bunch is the 3rd and 18th holes. The former boasts an 80-foot elevation change, and the latter is a long par-5 that concludes 150 yards uphill.
Don’t pass up the chance to visit Hawktree Golf Club if you ever find yourself in Bismarck or anywhere in Burleigh County. It is definitely one of the best golf courses in North Dakota.
Location: Williston, North Dakota
Hole: 18 Par: 72 Length: 7,092 yards
Another links-style golf course, the Links of North Dakota was built in 1995 and designed by the award-winning architect Stephen Kay. Nestled in the heart of the Bakken Oil Formation, this remote resort course provides you with a complete sense of isolation even though it is only located less than an hour’s drive away from the city of Williston.
The Links of North Dakota was sculpted from the rolling terrain and gorgeous cliffs overlooking the vast Lake Sakakawea. Much of its original soil was preserved throughout its construction, making it one of the purest and most natural golf courses in the country. Recognized by Golfweek Magazine as one of the "Best Public-Access Courses" in North Dakota in 2006, the course is exceptionally well-maintained and designed so that you will “experience golf as it was intended to be played.”
The course at Red Mike (as it is known to most locals, in reference to the Red Mike Resort) has an 18-hole, 72 par layout with five different sets of tees ranging from a very friendly 5,249 yards to an exciting 7,092 yards. It features generous fairways that all measure at least 45 yards in width. Inspired by the famous Scottish links, it is devoid of both trees and bodies of water, although plenty of challenge can still be had from the constant uneven lies, treacherous winds, and rough prairie grasses. With the 82 strategically-placed sand bunkers added to the mix, then you have yourself an invigorating and satisfying round that is tough to match anywhere else.
Some notable holes include the 15th hole, which is a par-4 with a 100-yard fairway that is distinctly reminiscent of St. Andrews, and the 17th hole featuring a descending shot that leads into a sizable green guarded by bunkers and dramatic slopes. My personal favorite is the risk/reward 2nd hole, an intimidating 350-yard par-4 that is considered by many as one of the best holes in the state, with its landing site hidden behind three diagonal bunkers. A safe play using a short approach would be the best option for many players here.
Location: Grand Forks, North Dakota
Hole: 18 Par: 72 Length: 7,166 yards
Nominated in the World Golf Awards as one of North Dakota's best golf courses in 2018 (along with some of the other names on this list), King's Walk Golf Course is more than just another links-style course. King’s Walk flaunts a classical design sculpted from a lush prairie landscape and flourishing Bent Grass greens.
Opened in 2000, this Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay collaboration is an expertly crafted masterpiece of exhilarating action and understated elegance. Mounds abound all throughout the course and two brilliantly beautiful blue lakes also come into play. There’s a multitude of sand bunkers, deep ravines and steep ridges to make for an interesting game together with the tree-lined fairways. Several long swathes of fescue serve the finishing touches, a signature Arnold Palmer flourish.
King’s Walk G.C. features an 18-hole, par-72 layout with four sets of tees for golfers of varying skill levels. It measures approximately 5,400 yards from the front and a little shy of 7,200 from the back.
Some standout holes from the course are the 439-yard, par-4 5th hole, a particularly challenging driving hole with the smallest green of the entire course, flanked by a deep ravine and three bunkers; the 576-yard, par-5 14th hole, which is the longest hole of the course and features a landing area bordered by two hills and a cluster of pine trees, with another green yet again surrounded by multiple bunkers and a ravine; and the 186-yard, par-3 16th hole, which course regulars widely acknowledge as the most harrowing of the track due to its forced carry over water punctuated by a green that is heavily fortified by a sizable, pine-riddled hill and a bunker lying atop a mound.
Along with their top-notch golf course, other amenities at King’s Walk include a driving range, practice facilities such as putting and chipping greens, and a clubhouse complete with a golf shop, a dining room, and a guest lounge. Don't miss the chance to play this track when you are in Grand Forks as it is definitely one of the best golf courses in North Dakota.
Location: Medora, North Dakota
Hole: 18 Par: 72 Length: 7,166 yards
Bully Pulpit Golf Course is a definite must-play for all avid golfers residing in or passing through the state of North Dakota. Located a few miles south of the humble town of Medora, Bully Pulpit is one of the most scenic golfing destinations this side of the border. It's easy to see why it's been the talk of the town ever since it first opened in 2004.
The course is also near the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The course was allegedly named after a phrase used by the former President himself to describe the White House. Bully Pulpit is owned by the non-profit Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.
Famous designer Dr. Michael Hurdzan dazzles golfers once again with the showpiece that he has crafted here. Sculpted along the natural contours of the original landscape, Bully Pulpit is as much a visual experience as it is an exciting course to play on. Granted the highest spot in Golf Digest's "New Affordable Courses" in 2005, the popularity of Bully Pulpit has done a remarkable job in contributing to the rise of Medora as a popular state attraction.
Players are given the choice of five tee boxes, which range from 4,750 at the front to 7,166 yards from the championship tees. An incredibly diverse track, this par-72 layout features holes in a variety of settings; some in the heart of the woodlands, others among the meadows, and a few are perched on the banks of Little Missouri River.
The crowning jewel of the course is its famous “Badlands Holes”, referring to the track’s finishing five holes that route through the North Dakota Badlands, a rocky fairway gorge high above the river. Holes 14th to the 16th, particularly stand out because of their stunning 200-foot elevation vantage points and beautiful sweeping vistas.
With its fantastic track, strong canyon winds and elevation changes that constantly come into play, you'll need to be at the top of your game at the Bully Pulpit Golf Course if you ever decide to take it on. Its difficult layout is among the key attributes that make it one of the best golf courses in all of North Dakota.
Location: Minot, North Dakota
Hole: 18 Par: 72 Length: 6,759 yards
The first entry in the list from Minot, one of the state’s most popular golfing destinations, is Souris Valley Golf Course. Strategically located a short distance north of the Lewis and Clark Trail, Souris Valley G. C. has always been a local favorite. It is the home of the Minot State University golf teams. First established in 1968, this 6,759-yard community course flaunts gorgeous wooded fairways and large, sloping greens of well-manicured Bluegrass.
A true hidden gem, the golf course at Souris Valley is sculpted atop a river valley terrain and boasts wonderful views and several water features, including the Souris River itself, which you will be crossing paths with multiple times throughout your round.
The layout at Souris Valley has a good assortment of holes that are designed to please all golfers of varying tastes and abilities. There are some breezy holes that are conducive for beginners and high-handicappers (like the 2nd and 14th), while others are much trickier and are better-suited to more advanced players (like the 8th and 12th). Some of the most scenic holes are the 153-yard, par-3 4th hole and the 500-yard, par-5 11th hole which both feature breath-taking, panoramic views overlooking the great river.
Overall, Souris Valley’s layout is not unreasonably difficult to make it out of reach of anyone’s talent. If you just start from the appropriate tees, you will have a great time here. Take note of the various water hazards and trees flanking the greens, as they certainly complicate matters and provides an additional challenge as you go through your round. The typical North Dakota strong winds also elevate the course’s difficulty on a number of occasions.
Other amenities include a driving range, putting greens, chipping areas, a snack bar, a pro shop, golf lessons, and even a quaint burger joint which we highly recommend if you ever pass by. All of these factors add up to a first-class golfing experience which comes at surprisingly affordable rates. The Souris Valley Golf Course is a good value for your money, which earns it a place on our list of the best golf courses in North Dakota.
Location: Fargo, North Dakota
Hole: 18 Par: 71 Length: 6,413 yards
Another one of North Dakota’s best golf courses hails from the state’s golfing hotbed, Fargo. Easily the most prestigious golf course of the area, Edgewood Golf Course lies along the Red River in the midst of a valley not far from the downtown area. Edgewood has withstood the test of time as it remains a popular choice among locals and visitors, decades after it first opened in 1920.
This municipal golf course exhibits a traditional architectural design that will transport you to a simpler time. Its uneven lies, undulating greens, and generous tree-lined fairways set it a cut above other Fargo courses. The track boasts of a handful of water features, which are occasionally populated by wild geese. The natural serenity and idyllic ambiance of Edgewood make it a perfect haven for all avid golfers.
An original Mike Morley design, the par 71 layout stretches up to 6,413 yards from the tips and is home to a balanced mix of easy, straightforward holes as well as complex and challenging ones. With a 125 slope rating, Edgewood G.C. sits right in the middle of that perfect zone where it’s both engaging for beginners and high-handicappers and also exciting for the seasoned players.
Notable holes are the 2nd, a relatively short par 4 with a highly elevated green; the 17th, a tightly-squeezed par 4 which you need to tackle with a long, straight tee shot; and the 18th, another par 4 with a swerving dogleg left fairway, fortified by trees but with a fairly level green landing area at the end. The course at Edgewood reads like a well-written fast-paced thriller. It opens off to a great start and sticks the landing with an excellent, climactic finish.
Aside from the course, players and guests can also enjoy the driving range, pro shop, or wind down at their elegant restaurant with top-notch service, the Divots. These are first-rate amenities at par with most private country clubs. Edgewood Golf Course is definitely one golfing destination you don’t want to miss when you are visiting Fargo, North Dakota.
Location: Fargo, North Dakota
Hole: 18 Par: 72 Length: 6,616 yards
Claiming the 7th spot on our list is another favorite from the state’s most populous city, Rose Creek Golf Course from Fargo. It has a modest 6,616-yard layout, but it is impeccably well-maintained with Bent Grass greens that roll fast and true. Built in 1992, this Richard Phelps showpiece is a perennial contender for one of the best golf courses in North Dakota and certainly one of the finest courses in Fargo.
Due to the Red River floods which devastated most of the city almost a decade ago, the course at Rose Creek underwent several renovations and upgrades, and now features nine redesigned holes and an all-new driving range. Rose Creek G.C.’s other assets include the serene countryside views, a friendly and accommodating staff, and an 18-hole championship layout that is infinitely playable for beginners and high-handicappers, and still exciting enough for the seasoned players especially if you play off the back tees.
Rose Creek is definitely in the league with many of the state’s best public golf courses. It sports well-groomed greens and fairways, as well as a multitude of creative holes designed to test the resolve of all golfers. The water hazards, sand bunkers, and a couple of OB’s add more complications to the game, making your round even more exciting.
Course highlights include the 492-yard, par-5 9th hole, featuring a heavily-fortified green flanked by bunkers left and right that demands accuracy and perfectly-angled shots; the 406-yard, par-4 17th hole featuring a barrage of bunkers, sparkling blue ponds on both sides of the fairway and around the green you’d think it was hazards-overkill if they were not so pretty; and the 412-yard, par-4 18th hole, with its sloping large green that is well-guarded by bunkers front, left, and back, with two ponds to the right of the fairway for good measure.
Location: Dickinson, North Dakota
Hole: 18 Par: 72 Length: 6,734 yards
Located 10 miles west of Dickinson is the lovely Heart River Golf Course. Built in 1963 and designed by Rees Jones, this municipal course lies along the banks of the vast, 180-mile long Heart River and is only a short distance away from the Patterson Lake Recreation Area.
Heart River Golf Course features a diverse landscape consisting of vast, gently rolling plains for the front nine that eventually descends to a wooded, riverside area that characterizes the back nine. Rows of mature trees line the track, making it one of the most scenic golf courses in the state. Much of the course’s charm also comes from the small-town vibes and peaceful ambiance that is perfectly-captured here.
The layout for this 18-hole, par 72 course will make for a satisfying round of golf for players of all skill levels and experience. The track is very open and mostly level, with lots of straightforward and easy-to-play holes. The rough and bunkers spread out all across the 6,734-yard layout provide some needed challenge and obstacles to keep you honest. The back nine, in particular, is a fan favorite as it comprises many holes where water comes into play and features magnificent views of the eponymous river.
The greens are fast and roll true, and there are multiple tee boxes to accommodate all types of players. Heart River G.C.’s dedicated staff works hard to maintain the course’s pristine condition all year round, as this course has one of the longest playing seasons in the state.
Once you’ve satiated your golfing fix, you can cap off your round with a lovely meal at The Links Grille & Bar and enjoy the other off-course amenities like the driving range, practice greens, or teaching pros at this family-friendly course. This is one of the best golf courses in Stark County.
Location: Wahpeton, North Dakota
Hole: 18 Par: 71 Length: 6,573 yards
Found in the southeastern corner of the state in Wahpeton, many tourists are drawn to the Bois de Sioux Golf Club as it lies smack dab in the middle of the border between the states of North Dakota and Minnesota, with nine holes located in one state and the other nine holes in the other. First opened in 1924 and designed by Robert B. Harris, this semi-private golf course is a nice addition to your trips in Wahpeton or other nearby vicinities in either of the two states and certainly make for an enjoyable time for any serious golf enthusiast.
Its 18-hole layout flaunts Bent Grass greens and Bluegrass fairways across the course’s entire curved, winding track that is always kept in impeccable shape. Challenges are posed by several water hazards that show up here and there throughout the course (7 ponds, 3 lakes, and 1 stream, to be exact), as well as the numerous bunkers strategically placed all along the track.
The landscape is relatively flat (true to North Dakotan topography), especially for the opening nine, which helps to make Bois de Sioux a pleasant and leisurely walkable course. The North Dakota starting nine is comparatively more open and sports more generous fairways, whereas Minnesota’s finishing nine has tighter fairways lined with mature trees. The two converge at a bridge over the Red River found between the 9th and 10th holes, which coincidentally are the most scenic holes of the entire layout. Overall, this course is best suited for the more traditional golfers, with its classic design and simple, straightforward shot requirements.
The off-course amenities at Bois de Sioux are also worth praising. They come fully equipped with a well-stocked pro shop, training facilities, a driving range, a diner that also serves as a guest lounge, and a lovely bar. Their staff are also some of the friendliest people that you will ever meet. Overall, Bois de Sioux is a novelty course that offers excellent value for your money and can lay claim to being the best golf course in two states.
Location: South Heart, North Dakota
Hole: 18 Par: 71 Length: 6,371 yards
Rounding off our list of top 10 best public golf courses in North Dakota is the hidden gem of South Heart, the Pheasant Country Golf Course. Only 9 miles west of Dickinson and a short walk away from the Heart River Golf Course, this is another 18-hole facility that’s situated along the beautiful Heart River. A bit more obscure compared to its Dickinson neighbor, Pheasant Country is a modest 6,371 yards from the tips, making it the smallest course on this list.
Built in 1998, this municipal golf course is perfect for more private, secluded golfing getaways or a quick stop along your road trip through North Dakota. The 18-hole layout plays very wide and open, with lots of pine trees along the track and oversized greens that should prove favorable for beginners and high-handicappers.
Only three sets of tees are provided for you to choose from when deciding to tackle this winding course. There are numerous dogleg fairways and a couple of blind tee shots. Water does not come into play at all on any hole. There’s a pond to the side of the fairway on the 8th, but it is not a threat unless you’ll really yank your shot all the way to the right.
The fairways are well-maintained and the greens are perfectly manicured. The staff is helpful and accommodating, and there’s a wide variety of amenities - from the lovely clubhouse and guest lounge to the driving range, practice greens, and a fully-stocked pro shop.
All in all, if you’re looking for a reasonably priced, peaceful golf course to give you a nice breather from all the hustle and bustle of the city, Pheasant Country Golf Course is the place to be if you are somewhere near South Heart or anywhere in Stark County.
In summary, North Dakota is a safe bet for golfers looking for reasonably priced courses with a country club, home-on-the-range feel. It is blessed with flourishing wildlife and plenty of scenic views that make it ideal for a relaxing getaway with friends and family especially during springtime or the latter part of summer. It’s nothing but fresh air and lush greens for miles in many of the best golf courses in North Dakota which we have listed here.
With over a hundred golf courses in the state, we had to leave a few notable picks off the list while there may also have been some gems off the beaten track which we haven’t explored. Either way, we'll leave the additional exploring up to you and we would appreciate hearing about your precious finds if ever.