How many sports cater for all abilities to the extent that you can play competitively with Mom, Dad, your grandparents, your kids, alone, or even with a professional? The USA is a special place to play, watch, and enjoy golf. America boasts 17,000 courses on which to play the game, is the heartbeat of the sport at professional level, host of three of the four men's Major Championships, and home to many of the finest players - male or female - to have played the sport.
The lush and verdant fairways, perfectly manicured greens, and the exotic flora and fauna of Augusta National, Georgia immediately spring to mind. Augusta hosts the opening major of every year, the US Masters, in the first week of April. Augusta simply oozes golfing history. The course boasts one of the game's most stunning stretches - Amen Corner - and the champion is presented with one of sport's most iconic prizes, the coveted green jacket, by the previous year's winner.
The season's next Major is the US Open, the climax of which takes place on the third Sunday of June, which is also Father's Day. The tournament is open to any professional golfer who completes qualifying and the competition rotates around some of the country's toughest courses on a year-by-year basis. The same is true for the year's final major - the PGA Championship, often just referred to as the PGA - which is played in August, just prior to Labor Day. This is the most lucrative of the game's four majors, with the victor taking home a purse of $10 million in 2014.
In terms of playing the game, the USA boasts every corner of the golfing spectrum imaginable: there's green parkland, dusty dessert courses, and stunning links. In addition to the many fine private courses, there are world-class public courses, which can be more affordable and accessible for visitors. Try Chambers Bay in Washington State, home of the 2015 US Open and one of the country's top public courses, Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia, or Florida's brilliant pair Sawgrass (Ponte Verde) and Blue Monster (Miami). Over in California lies Torrey Pines' famous links and the iconic Pebble Beach. Within a stone's throw of New York City (about one hour's drive) is Bethgate Park - home to five courses, including the world-famous Black Course. Another golfing mecca is Louisiana's Audubon Golf Trail, which has 12 exceptional courses covering the state's five regions. The list goes on: there are wonderful golf courses, public and private, on offer in all 50 American states.
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