The USA has more entrants in the top 100 golf courses in the world than any other country in the world - 47. However, the vast majority of these courses are accessible only to those with connections or money. For those of us coming from the UK this takes quite a bit of getting used to and seems a crying shame. In recent years there has been a small, but important, movement away from that with the likes of Bandon Dunes and Streamsong opening up great golf courses to the common man but for many playing the likes of Pine Valley or Augusta will be just a pipe dream.
Still, where there is a will there is sometimes a way, and I have been lucky to have had a couple of great trips to Long Island and New York which have given some wonderful memories. Two of them, Shinnecock and Friar's Head, hold their own with any course I have played anywhere.
Playing golf in the US definitely takes a lot of getting used to. For example, at the top-end places caddies are mandatory and don't think of leaving less than $100 per person. It does seem odd at first that they will usually carry two bags on each loop but get a good one and they will be worth their weight in gold. It is only in the US I have ever relaxed with someone carrying my bag!
It is definitely worth doing some reading before you play one of the top courses. Understanding the history of the course can really help you appreciate the experience on the day - only at Garden City did I find that the billing didn't quite live up to the anticipation. GolfClubAtlas.com is a great resource and I have linked to it several times on these pages, there is a wealth of knowledge to tap into if you have the time or inclination.
With the exception of a couple of games in California most of my both has been kept to the East coast but there are so many places left on my wish list it may take a lifetime to get through them. From Cypress Point in the West to Seminole in the East, via Sand Hills in the middle - there is much to look forward to!