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Best Public Golf Courses in the District of Columbia

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The District of Columbia is a federal district located in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States’ East Coast and serves as the nation's capital. Established as a federal city, it is neither its own state nor a part of any other state, though it is often misconceived as one.

Not to be confused with the state of Washington, the District of Columbia is centered on the city of Washington, D.C. and was first established in 1787. It is also comprised of several cities from the nearby states of Maryland (e.g. Bethesda, Frederick, Gaithersburg, Rockville, and Silver Spring) and Virginia (e.g. Arlington, Alexandria, and Reston). Home to approximately 639,972 residents with a total land area of only 177 square kilometers, D.C. is one of the country's most densely populated regions.

Bounded by the flowing waters of the Potomac River along the state boundary between Virginia to the west, the District of Columbia features a generally flat topography, especially in the central region near Washington, D.C., accented by several forested, low-lying hills to the north and gently rolling farmlands to the south. There are also a few other significant bodies of water that cut across the region, such as the Anacostia River (a tributary of the Potomac River) and Rock Creek, and nearby islands such as Theodore Roosevelt Island and Kingman Island.

A perfect medley of natural splendor afforded by its widely diverse landscape and bustling, industrialized cities steeped in rich American history, the District of Columbia is undisputedly a must-visit international metropolis. For years, the region has been one of the most popular local golf destinations for travelling golfers from far and wide. With an impressive selection of over 130 golf courses in the area, D.C. is home to some of the United States’ greatest courses with numerous Golden Age classics under its belt.

In this guide, we have listed the Top 10 Best Public Golf Courses in the District of Columbia. We have also included some semi-private facilities that allow public access in exchange for daily fees. 

Best Golf Courses in DC

Rating: 4.82/5.0
Location: College Park, Maryland
Holes: 18     Par: 71     Length: 7,015 yards

Established more than 50 years ago, the University of Maryland Golf Course is an 18-hole semi-private championship course situated just beside the campus in College Park. It is the best college course you can find in the D.C. area.

Originally designed by George Cobb in 1958, the course has since undergone an extensive renovation by Bill Love and Wadsworth Golf Construction in 2008 to modernize and effectively keep the course’s spot among the best courses in D.C. It is equipped with four different sets of tees to cater to the varying skill sets of all players. Playing from the farthest tees, the course has a slope rating of 137.

The course features picturesque views of the breathtaking terrain and surrounding landscape. Course obstacles are presented in the form of multiple strategically placed sand bunkers, water hazards, undulating greens, and dramatic elevation changes.

Starting the round with a beautiful par-4, University of Maryland’s first hole measures 460 yards from the farthest tees but only 328 yards from the nearest. The hole plays along a narrow piece of land bordered by thick sets of trees and a water hazard placed just before the green. You will be required to thread the needle and execute good ball positioning especially as you approach the green.

One of the most memorable holes is the 547-yard 9th. This par-5 hole is divided into two sections by a large pond fronting the green. You will need to carry the sizeable water hazard on your approach shot, virtually turning it almost into an island green with the water hazard waiting to collect your ball if you fall short while a row of bunkers are lurking from the back and the side if you happen to overshoot.

This charming facility boasts of an equally elegant clubhouse, known as Mulligan’s Grill and Pub with a full bar where you can relax and take a much-deserved break after a great round of golf. They also have a well-stocked pro shop for you to restock your golfing essentials. 

Rating: 4.77/5.0
Location: Washington, D.C.
Holes: 18     Par: 65     Length: 4,951 yards

Rock Creek Park Golf Course is unlike any other golf course in the D.C. area. At only 4,951 yards from the tips, this par-65 course is mainly composed of short yet challenging holes, with 11 intricate par 4s and 7 exciting par 3s to its layout.

Opened in 1923, Rock Creek Park Golf Course is a perennial must-play and consistently ranks among the best courses in Washington, D.C. Course Architect Bill Love flawlessly incorporated the layout and routing into the area’s pre-existing natural terrain and landscape as though it has always been one and the same.

Found right in the middle of the country’s political seat in Washington, D.C., Rock Creek Park Golf Course is famous for its intricate layout with colorful trees bordering almost every hole, rolling greens, dramatic elevation changes all throughout the course, deep sand bunkers, and narrow and unforgiving fairways. All of these obstacles are more prominent and noticeable in the course’s back nine holes.

The track kicks off with the memorable 302-yard first hole. This par-4 hole is wide open with no trees or other obstacles to possibly hamper your progress even from the sides. Upon approaching the green, you will have to carefully execute your approach to avoid the two sizeable bunkers guarding it on each side. The back portion is outlined with multiple trees which can easily swallow up any errant shot enough for you to lose some valuable time or take a penalty.

With a limited space to play in, Rock Creek’s par-4 12th hole will need a carefully planned strategy to navigate efficiently. This 315-yard hole slightly curves left towards the end. It is heavily bordered with dense trees on either side. Right off the tee, you will have to execute a very controlled shot to avoid the trees and place your ball in the best position for the 2nd shot. The bunker-less green seem ripe for the taking if you manage to get a good position for your 2nd shot, but the narrow lane bordered by trees on either side are enough reasons not to get complacent as you could just as easily lose your ball among the trees with a wayward shot.

Rating: 4.73/5.0
Location: Leesburg, Virginia
Holes: 18     Par: 72     Length: 7,191 yards

Sculpted from a former raspberry field, the Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club still shows vestiges of its former self to this day as you can still see some raspberry bushes every now and then as you navigate through the 7,191-yard, par-72 championship layout.

Conveniently located in Leesburg, Virginia, Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club is just 15 minutes away from Washington Dulles International Airport. Consistently recognized by various prestigious golfing publications, Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club has been named as the “Best Public Course in D.C.” by Washington Times and has been included in Golf Digest’s list of “Top 20 Courses in Virginia”.

Raspberry Falls was designed by Gary Player and launched in 1996. It quickly gained widespread recognition as it immediately garnered a spot among the Top 10 Courses in Virginia soon after its opening. It uses a unique links-style layout that makes the course more challenging and interesting than most. The course is characterized by breathtaking layout, picturesque views, and magnificent scenes of the Catoctin Mountains looming over the entire layout.

Aside from the striking backdrop, the course boasts of an extremely challenging 18-hole championship course with different types of obstacles such as pristine water hazards bordered with stones, undulating greens, constant elevation changes, tall grass, dense trees, and steep bunkers.

With a handful of beautiful and challenging holes up its sleeve, one of Raspberry Falls’ signature holes is the 479-yard, par-4 3rd hole which plays downhill. Teeing from an elevated area, you can admire the picturesque views of the Catoctin Mountains before tackling the exquisite challenge at hand. Dropping over 100 feet, the fairway landing area slightly turns to the right which will favor those who can execute a good fade. The green is protected by a humungous bunker, nicknamed “Ball’s Bluff”, which has a reputation of ruining the games of many players that it has earned the right to be given its own name.

Opening the back nine with one of the toughest holes in the entire course, the 462-yard 10th hole greets you with a warm embrace but with sinister intentions. Water hazards and steep sand bunkers are prominently featured on this hole. A stream cuts through the layout just after the tee, demanding you to carry your tee shot over the water. Multiple sand bunkers guard the green and fairway with a beautiful lake lining the left side of the green. Two sand bunkers can be found crowding the green with one in front and another on the back.

Wrapping up the course with an undeniably spectacular hole, Raspberry Falls’ par-5 18th hole is recognized as one of the best concluding holes in D.C. This nerve-wracking hole covers 550 yards from the tips. Teeing from 30 feet above the fairway, the hole starts with a drop over a vast waste area and a creek that cuts diagonally across the layout. If you manage to avoid the two massive bunkers on the fairway landing area off the tee, your 2nd shot will present a great risk/reward proposition. You can attempt to land the green in two by carrying the creek again while trying to stick the landing and avoid the multiple bunkers swarming the green from all sides. The safe play would be to lay-up just before the edge of the creek and just execute a comfortable wedge towards the green.

Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club is a semi-private premier golf course that offers an exceptionally well-maintained course and first-class amenities at a daily fee. It is one of the best courses you can play in the Metro D.C. area. 

Rating: 4.68/5.0

Location: Clifton, Virginia
Holes: 18     Par: 71     Length: 6,897 yards

Westfields Golf Club has accumulated a number of notable awards and accolades since it opened in 1998. Quickly after its debut, it has been recognized by Golf Digest as the “Best New Course” in 1998. It has continued to pile up the accolades over the years such as being listed among “America’s Top Courses” from 2003-2017, “Top 10 Public Courses in Virginia” from 2000-2017, and most recently as the “Best Course in D.C.” by Golf Advisor in 2017.

Designed by Fred Couples, this must-play course was sculpted into the natural terrain creating a spectacular layout that utilizes much of the pre-existing natural obstacles while the rolling greens seamlessly flow with the track. With trees outlining every hole, nature provides most of the obstacles here rather than man-made ones. Aside from numerous sand bunkers, creeks and water hazards complicate many of the holes throughout this course.

Westfields Golf Club’s signature hole is the par-3 3rd hole. Measuring up to 223 yards from the back tees, this hole features a vast waste area, a huge water hazard, and a massive bunker guarding the green. This risk/reward hole requires careful strategy and a great deal of cajones to successfully conquer. Long hitters can attempt to attack the green directly off the tee by carrying the vast waste area and the huge pond, hoping to snag a birdie if you are successful. The inviting blue waters and the massive green-side bunker does not allow this to be an easy shot, however, and any wayward shot will most likely be collected by either of the two. The safer play is just to tiptoe along the right side of the narrow fairway with a par not even a foregone conclusion as the water and the massive bunker is still in play even if you opt for this route.

The front nine concludes with a notable par 4 hole. The 390-yard 9th is chock-full of impediments like sand bunkers and a vast waste area. You will be forced to carry the vast waste area off the tee with the landing area also crowded by two massive fairway bunkers. The approach to the green is no easy feat either as multiple bunkers front the green along with another waste area acting as a lateral hazard in front of the green complex.

Westfields Golf Club also has top-notch practice facilities such as a driving range, putting green, and pitching area. Their elegant clubhouse is manned by friendly and knowledgeable staff and houses a spacious banquet room that’s fit for any special event or occasion. 

Rating: 4.65/5.0
Location: Davidsonville, Maryland
Holes: 18     Par: 72     Length: 6,762 yards

Renditions Golf Course is a unique course that is unlike any other course in the D.C. area. It is named “Rendition” due to the fact that its holes are meant to be replicas of famous holes from all over the world or those from famous PGA Championship or U.S. Open Courses.

Located in Davidsonville, Maryland, Renditions Golf Course is like a buffet of holes where you will have a chance of playing many of the famous holes from renowned courses in just one location. The layout is set against abundant natural obstacles that contribute to the beauty and difficulty of the course. Designer David Edsall clearly went to great lengths to make sure that his masterpiece would be regarded as among the best courses in D.C.

With picturesque views dotting the whole course, not only is this track pleasing to the eyes but it will also satisfy your craving for an exciting round of golf. Several strategically placed sand bunkers regularly appear all throughout the course, along with pristine water hazards, undulating greens, and elevation changes that characterize this unique and exciting layout.

One of the most notable replicas of the Renditions Golf Course is the dreaded “Amen Corner” of Augusta National. The 6th to the 8th holes were able to recreate the aesthetic and technical difficulties posed by the famous stretch of the Masters’ home course in Georgia.

Merion’s famous 11th hole is also replicated here with the 14th hole of the Renditions Golf Course. This 369-yard hole is deceptively forgiving at the start with spacious landing areas and minimal hazards. But the real fun begins when a stream cuts through the fairway, demanding that you carry the ball over the water and onto the green that’s also guarded by a bunker to its left and water on the right.

Renditions Golf Course concludes with a replica of Cherry Hills’ own 16th hole. This 399-yard, par-4 hole is bordered by a stream to its right while trees line the left side of the fairway. The approach to the slightly elevated green is complicated by a lateral water hazard and two bunkers on each side.
Don’t miss the chance to play the Renditions Golf Course when you are in the area. It is one of the must-play courses in D.C. especially for golf aficionados, due in large part to its replica-inspired layout that plays like a montage of golf’s greatest holes. 

Rating: 4.61/5.0
Location: Washington, D.C.
Holes: 18     Par: 72     Length: 6,652 yards

Named after the legendary John Mercer Langston, the first African-American to be a part of the U.S. Congress, Langston Golf Course & Driving Range is an 18-hole championship course that also provides world-class amenities and facilities at an affordable daily fee price.

Widely regarded as among the best golf courses in D.C., this Bill Love design features striking views of the surrounding landscape and scenic displays of the horizon especially at certain times of the day. Measuring a manageable 6,652 yards from the tips and with a slope rating of 121, this family-friendly course is perfect for golfers who are trying to enhance their skills. Beginners and amateur golfers can play from the front tees with ease while the more seasoned golfers can still look forward to a more challenging course if they play from the back tees.

This par 72 premier course has a loyal following and has been admired by locals and visitors alike ever since it opened in 1939. Some of the celebrities who frequent these grounds include the legendary boxer Joe Louis, baseball player Maury Wills, and golfers Ted Rhodes, Al Morton and Charlie Sifford.

Found in northeast D.C. and perched along Anacostia River, Langston Golf Course has water hazards that are in play on almost every hole. With colorful trees incorporated into the layout and steep sand bunkers found at strategic locations, this challenging 18-hole course holds surprises at every turn.

My favorite hole is the 175-yard, par-3 13th hole where the tee box and green are laid out as opposite islands bisected by the river and connected only by a bridge. You will have to carry the water off the tee to reach the green across the river. You can still see some of the balls that tragically fell short lying on the side of the river while others may just as easily have been gobbled up by the trees for those who were not able to manage to stick the landing on the green or may have been just a tad more forceful with their drives. This hole is the perfect balance of beauty and challenge that should be emulated by course designers everywhere. 

Rating: 4.57/5.0
Location: Upper Marlboro, Maryland
Holes: 18     Par: 72     Length: 7,230 yards

Lake Presidential Golf Club is a 7,230-yard, par-72 championship course that is famous for its challenging layout. It is widely regarded to be one of the best courses in D.C. by prestigious golf publications. With four different sets of tees, this diverse course caters to golfers of all skill sets ranging from beginners and high-handicappers to the more seasoned golfers. The slope rating from the front tees is only 125 but rises to 137 when played from the back.

Aside from its intricate design, the course delivers scenic views all throughout especially if you happen to be there during sunrise and sunsets. Players are often caught either holding their clubs or their cameras to capture the magnificent views and moments for posterity’s sake.

One of the most memorable holes is the 570-yard, par-5 8th hole. Water lines the entire right side of the layout and while it plays straightforward in the beginning, it quickly escalates to a risk/reward hole as you approach the green. You can either muster the courage, carry the water on your approach shot while trying to avoid the huge green-side bunker at the same time. Or you can play the longer route and just keep to the left side of the fairway until you safely reach the green.

Lake Presidential Golf Club is also known to have one of the most spectacular concluding holes in D.C. Their mind-bending 18th is a par-5 hole that spans 515 yards from the tips. It is a beautiful and challenging hole featuring a forced carry over water to safely land on the fairway at the other side. A massive fairway bunker and a tree-lined fairway are the only remaining real threats that stand in your way towards conquering the green. 

Rating: 4.52/5.0
Location: Washington, D.C.
Holes: 18     Par: 72     Length: 6,599 yards

East Potomac Park Golf Course, also named as “Hains Point Golf Course”, is a 36-hole golfing facility that is home to three distinct golf courses. Two of those courses only offer 9 holes, the White and Red Course, while only one, the Blue Course, offers an 18-hole championship layout.

Designed by Robert White and Walter Travis, the Blue Course offers a great vantage view of the Washington Monument. Opened in 1916 and known to be among the best courses in D.C., this premier course is set on Hains Point Island and is surrounded by the Potomac River on both sides.

Despite its proximity to the river, there are surprisingly no water hazards that come into play on any of the holes here. The closest that the layout ever comes to water is when a hole’s layout is set alongside the edges of the island. Taking up the slack for the absence of water, several deep bunkers, thick trees, elevated greens, and narrow fairways serve as obstacles to raise the course’s difficulty level.

The 169-yard, par-3 4th hole is short yet deceptively treacherous. Seemingly wide open from the tee, the green later reveals itself to be heavily guarded with multiple bunkers completely surrounding it. Its back portion is also protected by dense trees where you can easily lose your ball if your shot goes farther than expected.

The most memorable hole from the back nine is the par-5 12th hole. It is a 437-yard layout that plays by the water’s edge. With trees lining each side of the narrow fairway, you will have to maneuver around the thick trees and possibly make an advantageous fade to maximize the best ball placement on the curved fairway. The green is only guarded by a singular bunker so it will be smooth sailing from there.

East Potomac Park Golf Course offers top-notch amenities and facilities along with great service, aside from their well-maintained golf course. They are also known for serving one of the best hamburgers in the city at their Potomac Grille dining lounge. Their Bacon Cheeseburger is the must-play course of burgers. All of these factors combine to point to the fact that the East Potomac Park Golf Course’s Blue Course is definitely one of the top golf courses in D.C. 

Rating: 4.47/5.0
Location: Ijamsville, Maryland
Holes: 18     Par: 72     Length: 7,010 yards

Regarded as one of the best golf courses in D.C., Whiskey Creek Golf Club has been receiving dozens of recognition and accolades from prestigious golfing publications since it opened in 2000. It has been included in Golf Advisor’s list of “Top Golf Courses in Maryland” for three consecutive years.

Whiskey Creek G.C. was also recognized as among the Top 5 “Best Public Courses” by both Golfweek and

Located about a mile away from the urban areas, Whiskey Creek is one course you can’t afford to miss if you’re an avid golfer. Aside from the secluded location, course designers Michael Poellot and Ernie Els were also able to take advantage of the area’s natural features such as the elevation changes, thick trees, wetlands, creeks, springs, and streams that are featured in many of the holes.
Opening the course with a spectacular hole, Whiskey Creek’s par-4 1st hole features eight white sand bunkers strategically placed at different locations on the layout. You will need to carry a wide waste area off the tee to land on a narrow landing area while trying to avoid four massive fairway bunkers. The green is surrounded by multiple bunkers from all sides.

Whiskey Creek saves the best for last with the 547-yard, par-5 18th hole which also happens to be the course’s signature hole. The risk/reward hole plays downhill and provides an opportunity for long hitters to claim the hole in four if you can clear the water and fairway bunkers fronting the green on your 2nd shot. Mere mortals would opt for the safe play by laying up near the water’s edge for a more comfortable wedge shot to the green. The exciting hole is made even more beautiful by the ruins of a stone house that once belonged to German immigrants serving as a backdrop. 

Rating: 4.43/5.0
Location: Ijamsville, Maryland
Holes: 18     Par: 72     Length: 6,724 yards

Named after P.B. Dye, the legendary Golf Architect who designed the course himself, the P.B. Dye Golf Club is an alluring, classical golf course that can satisfy even the most discriminating seasoned golfers. It is ranked No. 15 on Golf Advisor’s list of the “Top Courses in Maryland”.

Situated just half an hour away from I-495, the course has always been regarded as among the best courses in D.C. ever since it opened in 1999. The course offers scenic views of natural backdrops and stunning waters that meander through the course. Rolling hills, elevated greens, and deep sand bunkers are the other elements that raise the difficulty level of this charming track.

P.B. Dye’s opening hole is a 382-yard, par-4 beauty that features tree-lined fairways and ten sand bunkers that are strategically-placed through the layout for the most head-scratching scenarios possible. Another notable hole is the par-3 11th hole which plays a very manageable 157 yards from the back tees. You will be forced to carry the water off the tee to land on the green that is surrounded by trees, bunkers, and water from all sides. 

Wrap up

A long-time favorite of many avid golfers from all over, the District of Columbia has proven itself to be worthy of the nationwide recognition and widespread acclaim that it has garnered throughout the years. The names listed above are compelling reasons enough to pack up your clubs and give this state a visit for a golfing getaway with friends or family.

With top-quality courses and facilities, along with the numerous other activities (from museums, to memorials, to national parks), there's always something to do in D.C. Book your next golfing holiday here, especially during the autumn when the weather and the foliage is at its best, to enjoy some of the finest courses the nation has to offer.

Considering the extensive number of choices available in the area, this is by no means a definitive list, however, but merely a guide to start you off on the right direction. With that said, let us know any hidden gems you might discover or some unsung heroes we may have inadvertently left off this list. 

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