For many, golf conjures up stuffy country club scenes or pros playing the game at the highest level. But at its roots, golf is a sport for the people – one that's beginning to be reflected in the proliferation and renovation of municipal golf courses across the United States.

These “everyman" courses – some of which are home to premier golf tournaments and some which have a distinctly local feel – offer great tracks at reasonable rates, making the sport accessible to everyone.

“You go all over Ireland and Scotland, and they have little links courses that are affordable to locals, and that's what the game is supposed to be," says Matt Ginella, Travel Insider for Golf Channel's Morning Drive. “It's a place where the town went to congregate and have that camaraderie with their families. We can't have enough municipal golf here. We got away from it in America, and that's a reason why golf is fighting to increase its numbers. The more municipal golf courses we have, the healthier the game is. It's the heart of golf in America."

From coast to coast, there are championship-caliber public courses to be found, and we've decided to spotlight a few where you can play a great round and enjoy an ice-cold Coca-Cola at the 19th hole.

Torrey Pines (South), San Diego, Calif.

One of the most breathtaking locales in the country, this challenging course, which hosted the memorable 2008 U.S. Open, features holes that offer spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Even as a municipal course, Torrey Pines often finds itself ranked among the nation's top courses – public or private – thanks to its immaculate setting. “People build whole itineraries around coming to Torrey Pines," Ginella says. “Anytime you get the coastline and you have the cachet of hosting U.S. Opens, it's important for a town that's filled with good golf."

Brackenridge Park Golf Course, San Antonio, Texas

The oldest 18-hole golf course in Texas, “Old Brack" was designed by one of the game's greatest architects, A.W. Tillinghast. Its location right in the heart of San Antonio and great rates (often under $50) make this course a melting pot for golfers of all skill levels, but it isn't a pushover by any means. “You see every age group, every race, every gender – I love when I pull into the parking lots and see people walking around with their pull carts," Ginella says. “It's on a small piece of property, but it's one of the strongest courses. A good municipal course, is pound-for-pound, better than places like Pebble Beach."

Laurel Hill Golf Club, Lorton, Va.

A great golf course can sprout up anywhere. For evidence, look no further than to one of the Washington, D.C.-area's best courses, which, before 2001, was the home of the Lorton Prison, a maximum-security facility that very few people saw (or wanted to see) up close. Now, it's home to a premier golf course, one that doesn't shy away from its history, with guard towers and other remnants of its past easily visible while playing a round. You'll pay slightly more for the experience – most rounds are around $99 – but in the D.C. area, it's a bargain for a top-flight golf outing.

TPC Scottsdale (Stadium), Scottsdale, Ariz.

Home to one of the most raucous PGA Tour events, the Waste Management Open, TPC Scottsdale's Stadium course is a unique muni in that it was built with public land and split with the PGA Tour in a partnership with the city. That means, for decent rates (the best time to play is in the summer, but the course often has specials) you'll be playing on the same course as today's pros. Unfortunately, when you get to the 16th hole, it won't be as crazy as during the event, but you can picture everyone cheering for you from the massive stands as you line up your putt. “It's fun," says Ginella. “It's a very good course, and they made some good changes."

Dyker Beach Golf Course, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Golf and New York City wouldn't seem to go together, but this hidden gem in the corner of Brooklyn – accessible via subway – proves that you don't need vast amounts of land in the suburbs to have a fun golf course. The course has been in use for more than 100 years and in the 1960s, more than 100,000 rounds were played each year. Today, the course is back in pristine shape and offers a great value in one of the world's most expensive cities. “You're 15 or 20 minutes from Manhattan and playing golf," Ginella says. “There are guys in cargo shorts, and not always a collar, and that's OK. Golf doesn't need to be so pristine and pretentious."