Golf courses usually are judged on how interesting or challenging they are to play. But many courses are also graced with fine sea or mountain views, and that is as good a reason as any to play them. Among America's most scenic golf courses:

*Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, Calif.: The famous wind-swept greens reach right to the edge of the rocky Pacific coastline. So gorgeous is the seascape that nongolfing sightseers flock to Pebble Beach, and its adjacent courses, to savor the views. To play the course, though, you must pay for the privilege: A round of 18 holes is $125 per person.

*Lower Cascades Course, the Homestead Resort, Hot Springs, Va.: It's a hidden course, lying alongside Cedar Creek in a deep and winding Allegheny Mountain valley. The surrounding forests, climbing the mountainsides, enforce a welcome wilderness quiet.

*Stratton Mountain Country Club, Stratton Mountain, Vt.: When the snows melt, many of the country's great ski areas, among them Stratton, are transformed into attractive golf and tennis resorts. Vermont's Green Mountains provide a wonderfully green backdrop for Stratton's 27-hole course.

*Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Kamuela, Hawaii: It would be hard to find a Hawaiian course that isn't scenic, but one of the most beautiful is the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel's palm-shaded course, set between the sea and the lava slopes of Mauna Kea volcano. After a morning on the links, the crescent beach invites.

*Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis Club, Jackson, Wyo.: Look up from the tee on almost any hole and the view is the Grand Teton Mountains, a series of jagged, glacier-draped peaks that climb dramatically from the valley floor to more than 13,000 feet. It's a sight to make you forget the game and go climb a mountain.

*Sea Island Golf Club, St. Simons Island, Ga.: Not just one but four individual 9-hole courses trace the Atlantic shoreline amid oaks and magnolias. The club is located just across the bridge from one of the country's great old luxury resorts, the Cloister on Sea Island.