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Which State is the Best at Golf?

We’ve gathered the data and created the definitive state rankings for professional golf.

Although golf has global popularity and talent, the United States has produced some of the best golfers of all time. But where in the US do these golfing prodigies come from?

The man who recently won the Masters and perhaps the biggest household name in golf, Tiger Woods, is a California native. The “Golden Bear”, Jack Nicklaus, came out of Columbus, Ohio. Last years Master’s winner, Brookes Koepka, is from West Palm Beach, Florida.

With such widespread talent across the nation, have you ever wondered which US state produces the best professional golfers?

Well, we’ve figured it out for you.

To do so, we gathered the total number of professional players, and victories won, from each state over the past 15 years, along with each state’s average Total Strokes Gained (AVG SG: Total), which indicates the positive or negative gap between a player’s performance and the field’s.

For example, a player will have a SG: Total of +3 if he shoots 59 on a day when the field averages 62, while a player will have a SG: Total of -2 if he shoots 64.

Now that you know the method, here are the states that have the best golfing talent in America. Professionals from these states may have the best shot at winning the upcoming Major.

The Best States at Golf

Results Analysis

Given the year-round perfect climate, it should come as no surprise that finishing 1st is “The Golden State”, California. California has the highest number of tour victories, as well as the largest number of professional golfers – making it the clear winner. As well as this, California has the second most golf courses, with over 1,150 courses including the world-famous Pebble Beach, ensuring that future talent can thrive.

Sharing a similar amount of sunshine, Florida is close behind with a second-place finish. “The Sunshine State” fittingly has the second highest count of tour victories and professional golfers. Florida does manage to top California with its courses, with over 1,500 golf courses across the state.

See a trend here? The best two golfing states both have a pristine climate for the sport.

On any given day, an aspiring pro golfer can fine-tune their game with courses like Sawgrass in Florida and Torrey Pines in California, accompanied by some of the best weather in the country.

Rounding out the top three, Texas finishes in 3rd place with consistently high marks across the board. This is due in part to their superstar player and Texas native, Jordan Spieth, who has the second highest AVG SG: Total out of professional golfers (+98.5).

Spieth is only outdone by the Californian, Tiger Woods, who has an incredible AVG SG: Total of +120.3.

Many states display impressive accomplishments despite coming out at the bottom of the rankings.

For example, Hawaii comes in 35th place overall, but manages to get the highest putting average, with an AVG SG:P of +37.3. Similarly, Vermont came in 26th overall, but retains the highest state AVG SG: Total (+58.8) and AVG SG: T-2-G (tee-to-green) (+62.4). Even Kansas, which finishes 17th overall, has the fourth highest AVG SG: Total.

Ultimately, when it comes to the best region for the sport, the Sun Belt reigns victorious. With the Sun-Belt states of California, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Oklahoma making up seven of the top ten spots. Considering that golf is an outdoor sport, the vast talent from these states can be partially attributed to consistently warm weather, providing perfect training conditions all-year round.

Professional Golfers Ranking

The graph below shows the number of professional golfers from each state over the last 15 years (2004-2018). The states that rank in the top three overall are also home to the most professional golfers – California, which ranks 1st overall, also comes in 1st for the most professional golfers, with 62 tour golfers between the years 2004 and 2018.

State Count of Professional Golfers Professional Golfers Ranking
California 62 1
Florida 35 2
Texas 34 3
North Carolina 17 4
Ohio 16 5
Washington 14 6
Georgia 13 7
New York 13 8
South Carolina 12 9
Alabama 11 10
Illinois 11 11
Massachusetts 11 12
Indiana 10 13
Oklahoma 10 14
Arizona 9 15
Missouri 9 16
Pennsylvania 9 17
Louisiana 8 18
Tennessee 8 19
Kentucky 7 20
Michigan 7 21
New Jersey 7 22
Colorado 6 23
Wisconsin 6 24
Iowa 4 25
Maryland 4 26
Minnesota 4 27
Nebraska 4 28
Nevada 4 29
New Mexico 4 30
Oregon 4 31
Utah 4 32
Virginia 4 33
Arkansas 3 34
Connecticut 3 35
Kansas 3 36
Rhode Island 3 37
Hawaii 2 38
Idaho 2 39
Maine 1 40
Mississippi 1 41
New Hampshire 1 42
South Dakota 1 43
Vermont 1 44

 

AVG SG: Total Ranking

Average Total Strokes Gained is calculated by taking the average Total Strokes Gained of all players from each state to have competed in the PGA tour over the last 15 years (2004-2018).

The surprise victors for the average Total Strokes Gained are Vermont, Maine, and Kentucky – three states held high by the outstanding performance of a small number of professional players.

This data shows that the players from these states are, on average, better than the rest of the field on any given day and course. Unfortunately for these three states, their overall rankings are held back by low numbers of professional golfers and few victories.

 

State AVG SG: Total AVG SG: Total Ranking
Vermont +58.85 1
Maine +38.48 2
Kentucky +24.96 3
Kansas +19.94 4
Arkansas +17.59 5
Utah +13.55 6
Wisconsin +12.88 7
New Hampshire +10.75 8
Oklahoma +10.23 9
Minnesota +5.16 10
Maryland +4.31 11
California +3.71 12
Iowa +2.86 13
Nevada +1.74 14
Missouri +1.01 15
North Carolina +0.56 16
Florida -1.40 17
Texas -1.50 18
South Dakota -1.51 19
Georgia -2.26 20
Virginia -2.96 21
Indiana -3.61 22
Hawaii -3.68 23
Idaho -4.38 24
Massachusetts -5.66 25
Alabama -6.11 26
Washington -7.25 27
Louisiana -7.64 28
New York -10.18 29
Oregon -10.50 30
South Carolina -11.15 31
Tennessee -11.71 32
Pennsylvania -14.24 33
Rhode Island -14.73 34
Colorado -14.80 35
New Mexico -14.96 36
Ohio -15.06 37
Michigan -18.05 38
Illinois -20.18 39
Nebraska -20.59 40
Connecticut -24.60 41
Arizona -27.05 42
Mississippi -38.86 43
New Jersey -40.61 44

 

Victories Ranking

The table below show the states that have won the most tour victories between 2004 and 2018. Again, the states that ranked in the top three overall also won the most tour events.

Golfing pros from California, Florida, and Texas have won a combined total of 202 events over the past 15 years.

State Victories Victories Ranking
California 107 1
Florida 48 2
Texas 47 3
South Carolina 32 4
Kentucky 21 5
North Carolina 19 6
Ohio 15 7
Wisconsin 15 8
Iowa 14 9
Tennessee 14 10
Pennsylvania 12 11
Georgia 11 12
Louisiana 9 13
Washington 9 14
Alabama 8 15
Illinois 8 16
Oklahoma 7 17
Arizona 6 18
Nevada 6 19
Virginia 6 20
Kansas 4 21
Maryland 4 22
Massachusetts 4 23
New Hampshire 4 24
Oregon 4 25
Vermont 4 26
Arkansas 3 27
Connecticut 3 28
Minnesota 3 29
Hawaii 2 30
Indiana 2 31
Michigan 2 32
Missouri 2 33
Nebraska 2 34
New York 2 35
Colorado 1 36
Idaho 1 37
New Jersey 1 38
Utah 1 39
Maine 0 40
Mississippi 0 41
New Mexico 0 42
Rhode Island 0 43
South Dakota 0 44

 

Take Home Message

California, Florida, and Texas perform consistently well across the board, with the highest number of tour victories and the greatest number of professional golfers.

The weather in these states makes them a breeding ground for golf thoroughbreds. In fact, the accessibility to play in these areas has been key to providing the sport with some of the best golfers from any country to step on the green.

Stars like Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, and Brookes Koepka are all from these states. With talent like that, it’s not hard to believe that California, Texas, and Florida are the best golfing states in the US.

So, will Tiger Woods, the only golfer to finish under par at the last two opens at Pebble Beach,  come out on top at this year’s tour event and secure California’s reign as the best golfing state, or will current world No. 1 Brookes Koepka knock “The Golden State” off its throne?

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Ian Roden

Ian Roden

Writer and expert

A Fordham University graduate, Ian majored in communications and media studies with a focus in journalism and a minor in anthropology during his time at college. Here, he wrote for the university newspaper ranked top ten in the nation.

A competitive athlete for most of his life, Ian has spent almost a decade working as an ocean rescue lifeguard in New Jersey. Within that role, he has competed in endurance sports competitions against other lifeguards for the last 8 years.

As a lifelong surfer, Ian spends most of his spare time in the ocean regardless of the time of year. He also enjoys distance running, photography, and frequently spending entirely too much money on concert tickets.


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