College golf courses, including one here in Georgia offer a stern test and great deals to stay and play fall golf.
Let’s take a look at some of the time-honored and storied traditions in college football. Army-Navy, Michigan-Ohio State, The Red River Shootout (Texas-Oklahoma), Georgia vs Georgia Tech, Texas A&M’s 12th Man, and Florida State’s Chief Osceola are some of the well-known rivalries and rituals.
Another college football tradition coming on faster than alternate uniforms is fans bringing their golf clubs on gameday weekends. Fall is one of the best times to play golf, especially in the South and college golf courses are getting better and better. Many of these clubs offer exceptional stay-and-play options allowing players to tee it up and easily make the tailgate festivities and game.
So what are the top college courses with stay-and-play options? It’s a list as competitive as any college football national poll.
Here are some possibilities that are easy to get to from Atlanta.
Located in the shadows of Texas A&M University, the Traditions Club sports a Jack Nicklaus/Jack Nicklaus II Signature design that’s both challenging and breathtaking. Taking advantage of the beautiful hardwoods, natural water features and surprising elevation changes, the golf course is a shotmaker’s paradise. The club has played host to some marquee college tournaments including the 2011 Division I Women’s Golf National Championship and the annual “Mo” Morial tournament.
Home to the Aggie golf teams, the Traditions Club has two-, three- and four-bedroom cottages available for rent during gameday weekends. All are located on the course and come complete with the comforts of home like cable television, washer and dryer, outdoor kitchens and many other amenities. Another bonus: On Friday evenings before the game, the Aggie football team takes its pre-game meal at the club. Be sure to place your order before they arrive.
Designed by Tom Fazio, Karsten Creek is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and like a five-star linebacker, the course is tough and tenacious all the way through the finish. There are many aspects that make it so appealing – zoysia fairways, a challenging layout where players like Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Charles Howell III and many other Cowboy greats honed their craft, and Lake Louise, which looms large on the finishing holes.
Hidden in the thick Black Jack trees, and overlooking the 18th fairway and aforementioned lake sits three guest lodges. Each multi-level lodge contains six rooms with two queen size beds and many great appointments. Every level of the lodges also features a common area perfect for entertaining or mapping out a golf/tailgate/game plan.
While there is no official arrangement between the University of Georgia Golf Course and what I would rate as one of the top B&Bs in the country, Ashford Manor, you can still get a great rate at the UGA course (Around $50 or under for 18 holes on weekdays) and as little as $89 (without breakfast) or $109 (continental breakfast) to stay at Ashford Manor on weeknights.
The UGA course is a challenging par 71 Robert Trent Jones course. It was refreshed by Love Course Design in 2006. It has hosted men’s and women’s Southeastern Conference Championships and three NCAA Women’s Championships along with a Web.com Tour event. Ashford Manor is a luxurious Southern plantation set right in Downtown Watkinsville, about 10 miles from Athens. Dave Shearon and Mario Castro are the owners of Ashford Manor and they are hands-on,so you will have a great time and a relaxing stay. Each room at Ashford Manor has its own personality, so feel free to ask Dave or Mario to show you around and give you a history lesson. Ashford Manor is currently running a 25% off rate for last-minute bookings.
Once 500 acres of rich farmland, the par-72, 6,907-yard Birdwood Golf Course is the official home of the University of Virginia golf teams. Once part of an “upland wilderness” land patent in the 1700s, the land on which the golf course now sits was acquired by the university in 1974. Ten years later, they opened the Lindsay Erwin design to the public. Over time, the club has stayed true to its wilderness roots, as Birdwood is a certified member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program.
The layout is the star attraction of the Boar’s Head Inn, a charming retreat in the heart of Charlottesville. Southern Colonial touches are prevalent throughout Boar’s Head, and guests will quickly unwind in the 175 guest rooms and suites. Each room offers delightful antique furnishings complemented by modern conveniences sure to please before or after a round of golf, or a Cavalier victory. Golfers can also head over to the new Pete Dye designed Full Cry golf course at Keswick Hall. Opening in October, Full Cry is the centerpiece of the award-winning boutique inn set in Virginia’s bucolic Hunt Country. It is just minutes away from campus.
The Clemson football team might have Howard’s Rock at their football stadium, nicknamed “Death Valley,” but the Clemson golf teams have The John E. Walker, Sr. Golf Course and its famous 17th hole. The par-3 is striking, with a glistening Lake Hartwell as a backdrop and four bunkers protecting the rear of the green. From the tee, the green complex looks like the school’s proud Tiger Paw. This DJ DeVictor layout is a lot more than that one hole, as it is regarded as one of the top layouts in South Carolina.
The Conference Center and Inn at Clemson University is a quaint sanctuary that has won numerous awards for its lodging and meeting capabilities. Each one of the 62 rooms and 27 suites provide views of either the golf course or Lake Hartwell. Situated just minutes from campus, it’s the perfect place to gather before heading to “Death Valley.”
The Florida State Seminoles might be the hottest ticket in college football – a national championship and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback will do that – but what’s also a hot commodity, especially on gamedays weekends, is staying and playing at SouthWood Golf Club.
Located a short drive from the Florida State campus, SouthWood was once the official home of the Seminole golf teams. Designed by Fred Couples and Gene Bates, it takes full advantage of the land’s rolling terrain and majestic oak trees draped with Spanish moss. A perfect example of this is at the par-4 ninth, nicknamed “Live Oak Bend.” Be sure the camera is charged and ready for this hole.
Behind the Low Country-style clubhouse are five cottages that seamlessly blend with the other buildings on-site. Each is decorated and furnished with classic cottage décor, and contains a living area, bathroom and efficiency kitchen.