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US: Where to Play

Must Play: Pebble Beach Golf Links

Must Play: Pebble Beach Golf Links

Must Play: Pebble Beach Golf Links

http://www.pebblebeach.com
Location: Pebble Beach, 2 hours south of San Francisco
Cost: $495, which includes cart fee for resort guests

Purists look to Pebble as a pilgrimage, a spiritual journey to one of the game's most stirring coastal settings. The experience is pricey, but it pays off in a stretch of postcard holes overlooking the Pacific that etch themselves forever into your mind. The par-five 18th, a dramatic dogleg cut hard along the bluffs, may be golf's greatest finale. It provides a fitting finish to a course that deserves its place on everybody's bucket list.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Chris Cohenour, CC 2.0

US: Where to Play

Hidden Gem: Bayonet Golf Course

Hidden Gem: Bayonet Golf Course

Hidden Gem: Bayonet Golf Course

http://www.bayonetblackhorse.com
Location: Seaside, near Monterey
Cost: $115 weekdays; $160 weekends

Often overshadowed by the world-famous courses of nearby Monterey, this tight, tree-lined design (one of two first-rate tracks on the Fort Ord military base) qualifies as something of a secret superstar. Recent renovations have added polish to a layout that was already good enough to host the qualifying school for the PGA Tour. Look for last-minute tee-time specials online.

Photo courtesy of Bayonet tournament coordinator Julio Rodriguez, Jr.

US: Where to Play

Must Play: Lake of Isles Golf Course

Must Play: Lake of Isles Golf Course

Must Play: Lake of Isles Golf Course

http://www.lakeofisles.com
Location: North Stonington, 45 minutes from Providence, RI
Cost: $120-$225

Adjacent to the Foxwoods Casino, this stunning Rees Jones design is an odds-on favorite to impress your client with both scenery and service. Curling through pine forests on its way around a 90-acre lake, the course ends its journey at a 50,000-square-foot clubhouse that's a spacious backdrop for a power lunch or a post-round drink.

Photo courtesy of Lake of Isles Golf Course

US: Where to Play

Hidden Gem: Wintonbury Hills Golf Course

Hidden Gem: Wintonbury Hills Golf Course

Hidden Gem: Wintonbury Hills Golf Course

http://www.wintonburyhills.com
Location: Bloomfield, near Hartford, and just over an hour from New Haven
Cost: $69 weekdays; $79 weekends

Famed architect Pete Dye, in one of his less diabolical moods, created a user-friendly course with plenty of subtleties to hold your interest but not so much trouble that you tremble on the tee. The perfect venue for a casual, conversational round.

Photo courtesy of Wintonbury Hills Golf Course

US: Where to Play

Must-Play: Cog Hill Golf and Country Club (the Dub's Dread course)

Must-Play: Cog Hill Golf and Country Club (the Dub's Dread course)

Must-Play: Cog Hill Golf and Country Club (the Dub's Dread course)

http://www.coghillgolf.com
Location: Lemont, less than an hour from Chicago
Cost: $150

The finest public course in a city loaded with them, Dubsdread sits a quick shot from downtown, so you can be on the first tee less than an hour after your power lunch. The layout is stupendous, with classic curves shaded by ancient oaks, and its fairways are filled with history from epic matches featuring golf legends like Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead. Pace of play can be slow, so make sure your client has the time to spare.

Photo courtesy of Cog Hill Golf and Country Club

US: Where to Play

Hidden Gem: Pine Meadow Golf Course

Hidden Gem: Pine Meadow Golf Course

Hidden Gem: Pine Meadow Golf Course

http://www.pinemeadowgc.com
Location: Mundelein, an hour from Chicago
Cost: $79 weekdays; $84 weekends

Don't expect a spiffy clubhouse or boutique treatment. What you'll get is all the golf you can eat. With spit-shined conditions and fairways flanked by towering pine trees, the course offers a sense of solitude that you rarely encounter at a public course.

Photo courtesy of Pine Meadow Golf Course

US: Where to Play

Must Play: Atlantic City Country Club

Must Play: Atlantic City Country Club

Must Play: Atlantic City Country Club

http://www.accountryclub.com
Location: Northfield, 15 minutes from Atlantic City
Cost: $65-$195 weekdays; $95-$225 weekends

Once a private course, this killer bayside layout remains in mint condition, with firm, fast fairways that call to mind a Scottish links. Acclaimed architect Tom Doak oversaw course renovations in 1998 but left intact the club's lively heritage, including a bell beside the 18th green, which used to be rung to signal the last train leaving for Atlantic City. Consider post-round drinks at the 110-year-old Tap Room Bar and Grille.

Photo courtesy of Harrah's

US: Where to Play

Hidden Gem: Seaview Golf Resort

Hidden Gem: Seaview Golf Resort

Hidden Gem: Seaview Golf Resort

http://www.seaviewgolf.com
Location: Galloway, 8 miles from Atlantic City
Cost: $99 weekdays; $109 weekends

Carved through southern Jersey's thick pine forests, this graceful layout provides an engaging challenge for players who like to shape their shots. Getting from tee to green is trickier than getting to the course itself. It's just 8 miles from Atlantic City and an hour and a half from the Philadelphia airport.

Photo courtesy of Seaview Golf Club

US: Where to Play

Must Play: Turning Stone Golf Resort (Shenandoah Course)

Must Play: Turning Stone Golf Resort (Shenandoah Course)

Must Play: Turning Stone Golf Resort (Shenandoah Course)

http://www.turningstone.com
Location: Verona, 45 minutes from Syracuse or 2 hours from Albany
Cost: $150 for non-resort guests; $120 for resort guests

Certified as a sanctuary by the Audubon Society, the course blends seamlessly with its backdrop, a glorious tableau of woods and wetlands that makes the day enjoyable even if your game is off. The layout itself, which shifts from parkland to pasture to a heather-fringed landscape reminiscent of the English countryside, has the feel of three beautiful courses in one.

Photo courtesy of Turning Stone Resort

US: Where to Play

Hidden Gem: BethPage State Park (Black Course)

Hidden Gem: BethPage State Park (Black Course)

Hidden Gem: BethPage State Park (Black Course)

http://www.nysparks.state.ny.us/golf/info.asp?golfID=12
Location: Farmingdale, 30 minutes from New York City
Cost: $50 (NY residents) or $100 (nonresidents) weekdays; $60 (residents) or $120 (nonresidents) weekends

You'll need your A-game at Long Island's notoriously challenging muni, which has hosted the U.S. Open twice and is recommended for single-digit handicaps. Even tougher than some tee shots is getting a tee time, which explains why diehards arrive the night before and camp out in their cars. When you're doing business, try the phone reservation system. It's like trying to win the lottery, but you never know.

Photo courtesy of NYS Parks / J. Rozell

Gallery written by Josh Sens with contributed reporting by Shahnaz Mahmud.

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