When it comes to time-honored and storied traditions, no sport matches college football. Army-Navy. Michigan-Ohio State, Texas A&M’s 12th Man vs. the Longhorns of Texas, Oklahoma Sooners vs. Cowboys of OSU, Clemson’s Death Valley vs South Carolina Gamecocks, Florida State’s Chief Osceola vs. the Gator Chomp of Florida are just some of the great rivalries and rituals.
Another college football tradition that is catching on faster than alternate uniforms is fans bringing their golf clubs on game day weekends. And why not? Fall is one of the best times to play, college golf courses are better than ever, and many clubs are offering exceptional stay & play opportunities to tee it up and still make all the pre-game festivities, tailgate parties and the game.
So what are the top college courses with stay & play options? It’s a list as competitive as any college football national poll. Here are a few of eSouthernGOLF.com’s top picks:
Located in the shadows of Texas A&M in Aggieland, the Traditions Club sports a Jack Nicklaus/Jack Nicklaus II Signature design that’s both challenging and breathtaking. Taking advantage of the stately hardwoods, the natural water features of Turkey Creek and surprising elevation changes in the Brazos valley, 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 Men’s & Women’s Aggie golf teams, the Traditions Club has two, three and four bedroom cottages available for rent during game day weekends. All are located on the course and come complete with the comforts of home like cable tv, washer and dryer, fully equipped gourmet kitchens, patios with grilling areas and many other amenities.
Another bonus: On Friday home game evenings, the Aggie football team enjoys their pre-game meal at the club. Be sure to place your order before they arrive.
Designed by Tom Fazio, OSU’s Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and like a Big 12 linebacker, the course is tough and tenacious all the way to the finish. There are many aspects of the course, named for Karsten Solheim, founder of Ping and longtime OSU supporter, such as the zoysia fairways cut from the forests of black jack oaks and magnificent bent-grass greens that complement the challenging 7400 yard layout. Players like Hunter Mahan, Charles Howell III and Ricky Fowler honed their craft as part of he Cowboys golf team here. The back nine plays around Lake Louise, named for Karsten’s wife, and looms large on the finishing holes.
Just south of the clubhouse, nestled in a stand of black jacks, overlooking both the 18th fairway and the lake, sits three lovely guest lodges. Each multi-level lodge contains six spacious guest rooms with two queen beds each. Every level of the lodges features a common area complete with fireplace, fully stocked kitchen, dining and living rooms perfect for entertaining or mapping out a golf/tailgate/game plan.
Boar’s Head/Birdwood Golf Course
Once 500 acres of rich Virginia farmland, the par 72, 6907 yard Birdwood Golf Course is the official home of the U. of Va. golf teams. Once part of an “upland wilderness” land patent in 1739, the land on which the golf course now sits was acquired by the University in 1974. Ten years later, the Lindsey Bruce Erwin (ASGCA) award winning design opened for play and has stayed true to its wilderness roots, as Birdwood is a certified member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program.
The golf course is one of the many star attractions of the Boar’s Head Inn, the official Hotel of the University of Virginia, a charming retreat in the heart of Charlottesville. Southern Colonial touches are prevalent throughout the Inn and guests will quickly unwind in the 175 well appointed guest rooms and suites. With a full service Spa, fantastic indoor and outdoor tennis center, 22,000 square feet of meeting and function space and award winning dining the Boar’s Head is the place to be. Each room offers delightful antique furnishings complemented by modern conveniences sure to please before or after a superb 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 which just opened. It is just a few minutes from the campus and the course is the centerpiece of the award winning boutique inn set in Virginia’s bucolic Hunt Country. There is a separate article at eSouthernGOLFzine.com on Full Cry.
Conference Center & Inn at Clemson University/Walker Course
The Clemson football team might have Howard’s Rock at their stadium, nicknamed “Death Valley”, but the Tigers golf teams have the John E. Walker, Sr.Golf Course and its famous 17th hole. The 192 yard par 3 is striking, with 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. The DJ DeVictor design that reaches over 6900 yards from the Tiger tees is considered one of the finest layouts in South Carolina and one of the top 15 nationwide college layouts.
The Madren Conference Center and James F. Martin Inn at Clemson University is a quaint sanctuary that has won numerous awards for its meeting and lodging amenities. 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.”
Southwood Golf Club
The Florida State Seminoles might be the hottest ticket in college football- 2013 National Champions, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback, and a 7-0 -2014 record as of October will do that- but what’s also a hot commodity especially on game day weekends in Tallahassee is staying and playing at Southwood Golf Club.
Located a short drive east from the campus, Southwood was once the official home of the Seminole golf teams. Designed by Fred Couples and Gene Bates, the 7172 yard course takes full advantage of the north Florida rolling terrain and majestic oaks draped with spanish moss. A perfect example of the beautiful oak laden layout is at the par 4 ninth, named ‘Live Oak Bend” which should be a Kodak moment to anyone who plays it. Southwood is also an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
Behind the Low-Country style clubhouse and Southwood Home are five cottages that can be rented for a weekend stay and play. Each one is decorated and furnished with classic décor and contain a living area, bathroom, bedroom and efficiency kitchen. A great place to enjoy the fall evenings after watching the Noles win another game or playing 18.
Even if you don’t watch football, these courses and places to stay are some of the best in the country. Go Play!