Perfect Weekend

College Football and Great Golf Courses? 10 Towns That Have It All (Photos)

Catch a big-time college football game and play a great golf course this weekend in one of these 10 towns.

Dom Furore (top); Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Madison, Wisconsin

One of the most consistent teams in the country, the Badgers are always a threat to win the Big Ten. Camp Randall Stadium may be a sea of red come Saturdays in the fall, but there's also plenty of nearby green for golfers visiting the area, starting with the college's course, (University Ridge Golf Course), designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Hawks Landing Golf Club (4.5 stars) is just seven miles from campus, and Madison expert and Badgers fanatic Steve Stricker also suggests Odana Hills Golf Course ($50 on the weekends) and the Andy North-designed The Legend At Bergamont. Of course, if you feel like taking a two-hour drive, Whistling Straits (Straits Course, left, is No. 3 in Golf Digest's 100 Greatest Public Courses and Irish Course is No. 35) and Blackwolf Run (River, No. 15, Meadows Valley No. 60) are two of the finest golf resorts in the country. Plus, Erin Hills, site of the 2017 U.S. Open, is about 60 miles east.

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Lincoln, Nebraska

How important is college football in this heartland state? On a day when the Huskers are playing, the population of Memorial Stadium makes it Nebraska's third-largest city by itself. There's also a sizable population of high-quality area golf options. The Holmes Golf Course is located less than four miles from the center of downtown and features a $44 weekend green fee. Wilderness Ridge Golf Club (left) is just another few miles down the road, and there are several other 4.5-star courses within a half hour of campus, including Woodland Hills Golf Course, Iron Horse Golf Club, and Quarry Oaks Golf Club.

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Athens, Georgia

Bubba Watson's "Dawgs" rule this SEC town. The team plays "Between the Hedges" at Sanford Stadium, but there is also a bevy of options for you to play golf. UGA's home course, site of the Stadion Classic on the Web.com Tour, is just a couple miles away from campus, and The Harbor Club (4.5 stars, Tom Weiskopf/Jay Morrish) is just a 30-minute drive away. Another 10 miles past that is Arrowhead Pointe, another 4.5-star course, which features a weekend green fee of just $45. And within an hour is Reynolds Plantation (left), a golf resort that boasts 117 holes.

Courtesy of Barton Creek Resort & Spa (top), Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Austin, Texas

They say everything is bigger in Texas and Austin's Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium is certainly no exception. But aside from its massive football structure, Austin is also home to Barton Creek (left). The resort has four courses, including the Tom Fazio-designed Canyons and Foothills courses, both of which are listed in Golf Digest's 100 Greatest Public Courses. Austin resident and two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw also recommends Grey Rock Golf Club  (designed by Jay Morrish), and Lions Municipal GC, which is owned by the University of Texas.

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Auburn, Alabama

In-state rival Alabama may be the dominant force these days when it comes to football (three national titles in the past four years), but Auburn holds a clear edge when it comes to convenience for great golf. Three courses that comprise part of the famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (left) are within 10 minutes at Grand National. The Links and The Lakes are both rated 4.5 stars and have an $80 green fee, while The Short is a highly-rated par-3 course that is perfect for a quick afternoon round, with a price tag of $28. About 20 minutes up the road is the Stillwaters Golf and Country Club (also 4.5 stars), which is a resort with a weekend green fee of just $45.

Courtesy of Pelican Hill (top), Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Los Angeles, California

When you come to Tinseltown you can experience a big-time atmosphere at either USC or UCLA. A good thing about a lot of the golf spots in L.A. is that they also offer multiple options like Lost Canyons GC with its two Pete Dye courses, Pelican Hill Golf Club (left) with two Tom Fazio designs (both ranked in the top 100 of our list of America's 100 Greatest Public), and Brookside Park, GC with two William P. Bell tracks. There are also two town municipals at Griffith Park and Rancho Park Golf Course (4.5 stars) also has a par-3 layout. And if you can't get on any of George Thomas' more famous works (Think Riviera, Bel Air and Los Angeles Country Clubs), you can play his course at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai.

Courtesy of Longaberger Club (top), Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Columbus, Ohio

Ohio Stadium, or "The Horseshoe", sits in the middle of campus and is the fourth-largest college football venue in the country. Ohio State itself boasts two fantastic courses (most notably the Scarlet, designed by Buckeye Jack Nicklaus), but you need to have ties to the university or be the guest of someone who does. Nicklaus' nearby masterpiece, Muirfield Village, as well as the historic Scioto Country Club, are also private, but never fear, there are plenty of other great options in the area like Longaberger Golf Club (left), which is ranked No. 56 on our list of America's Greatest Public Courses. Two other 4.5-star courses even closer (both about a 30-minute drive) are The Links at Echo Springs and the Donald Ross-designed Granville Golf Course.

Courtesy of Leslie Park (top), Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Ann Arbor, Michigan

How expansive is Michigan's stadium? It's known simply as "The Big House." If that's not enough to get you there to see a game, then just think about how good the playing of the team's fight song, "Hail To The Victors," would sound in person. Once you are there, you also won't have to go far to find great golf with Leslie Park Golf Course (left, 4.5 stars) and Stonebridge Golf Club within five miles of the football stadium. You'll also find a pair of 4.5-star courses within a half-hour drive north of the city in Moose Ridge Golf Course and Cattails Golf Club. Of course, if you don't mind going far, though, heading up to Northern Michigan, one of the country's most underrated areas for golf, is definitely worth checking out. Forest Dunes, Tullymore, Eagle Eye, and Lakewood Shores are all in our top 100 public courses and are about a three-hour drive away. An hour past that is Arcadia Bluffs (5 stars), ranked No. 10 on our public course list.

Courtesy of River Islands GC (top), Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Knoxville, Tennessee

In 2004, Sports Illustrated ranked this pigskin-crazed place as the best college football weekend experience. Aside from the pageantry associated with Saturday games, there are ample opportunities to tee it up while you are in the area as well. Legendary Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summitt recommends River Islands GC (left, 15 minutes from downtown) on the way to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Willow Creek GC, which is 20 miles away from the football stadium. But two other highly-rated options in the area are Gatlinburg Golf Course (4.5 stars) and Three Ridges (4 stars).

Stephen Szurlej (top); Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Eugene, Oregon

Unless you have a phobia of fluorescent uniforms, seeing the Ducks play should be a fun experience. Emerald Valley Golf Course (approximately 10 miles from Autzen Stadium), and if you can pull a few strings, the private Eugene C.C. (No. 85 on our list of America's 100 Greatest) are the best of the nearby options. But Bandon Dunes (left), ranked by Golf Digest as the country's preeminent golf resort, is within driving range. Yes, it's another three hours by car, but are you really not going to go the extra mile(s) if you've made it this far? How good is Bandon? The property contains the No. 2 (Pacific Dunes), No. 5 (Bandon Dunes), and No. 14 (Bandon Trails) in Golf Digest's America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses ranking, plus the newer Old Macdonald and Bandon Preserve courses.

 

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