Six College Golf Courses Worth Seeking For A Golf Trip

A day trip to college courses like the Taconic Golf Club at Williams College are worthy complements to a golf getaway.

College golf is a chore. 36-hole tournament days, 5:45 a.m. range sessions before lessons, and hard-fought qualifying rounds against teammates that last until dusk: if you have a former or current college golfer in your life, you heard it all. As a college player, one of the places you’ll spend the most hours is your school’s home course. Many varsity teams practice at local country clubs or public golf courses in their area, however, lucky teams have access to their own campus-operated track. Either way, its contours and undulations become etched in your mind as you and your teammates familiarize themselves with each blade of grass during daily practice.

College golf courses are underrated as the coolest golf destinations in the country. With a compelling combination of challenging terrain, history, and accessibility, you won’t want to overlook a college town for your next trip with friends. These courses are meant to train and test some of the sharpest young golfers in the country, while providing a fun loop for the locals. Here are half a dozen that are worth checking out for players of all levels who appreciate the rich context that can be found in a university course.

Yale Golf Course

When you think of legendary college golf courses, there’s one particular place that should immediately come to mind, and for good reason. Yale’s golf course opened in 1926, after world-renowned golf course architect Seth Raynor and USGA founder Charles Blair Macdonald teamed up to convert a 700-acre wooded and swampy site in New Haven, Connecticut.

The layout of the Yale course is as expansive and dramatic as a routing can get. Massive greens, blind shots and bunkers that could bury you mark the key features of New Haven’s beloved course. The 213m “Biarritz” 9th hole is a par 3 that is hard to forget playing, as a deep ravine intersects the middle of the 64m deep green, which is protected by a water hazard and bunkers treacherous right and left. The course pushes you to your physical limits, not only by demanding an accurate shot, but also through the scale of the golf course and the difficulty of the walk. It’s a rarity, but you’ll smile as Yale’s big features beat you down, inside and out. Yale Athletics announced last year that it had commissioned renowned golf course architect Gil Hanse for an upcoming restoration.

How to play it: Yale Golf Course is currently closed for the season, but is generally open to the public to play. If you are accompanied by a Yale University affiliate (faculty, staff, or alumni), the play fee is discounted.

Taconic Golf Club at Williams College

Taconic Golf Club is part of the campus of Williams College, a small, elite liberal arts college in the mountains of Berkshire, Massachusetts, and it offers some of the best views of any college course. Taconic has seen dramatic changes since its inception in 1896, when it was transformed from farmland to a nine-hole golf course. Designed by Boston-based architectural firm Stiles and Van Kleek, the course was expanded to 18 holes in 1928, and overhauled in the 1950s to play as a par 71. Hanse then took over the reins in 2008, as he has done this for many courses around the world. He restored Stiles and Kleek’s original style by removing 1,000 trees from the property and moving the bunkers to locations suitable for the modern golfer.

Taconic Golf Course at Williams College in Massachusetts

Taconic Golf Club opened in 1896 as a nine-hole course.

A few quaint details give Taconic a distinct charm: on the 4th hole, for example, a birdhouse stands in the middle of the pond, cleverly labeled “Suggestion Box.”

How to play it: Unaccompanied guests at Taconic can play for a green fee of $200 (which includes a cart). If you are accompanied by a student, member, alumni or spouse of Williams or an employee of the College, you will pay less.

University of Michigan Golf Course

Imagine having an Alister MacKenzie golf course in your backyard as a college student. Well, University of Michigan students don’t have to: the school’s golf course is just minutes from campus and was indeed designed by the famous architect, more widely known as the spirit behind Augusta National. Although only 6,700 yards, the course – which regulars often refer to as “The Blue” – is no walk in the park. The drop-offs and smooth, well-protected greens are the true defenses of the course. If the spirit of college doesn’t emanate when you first enter the city of Ann Arbor, it will become apparent on the drive to The Blue, where you’ll get a sweeping view of “The Big House.” , the largest football stadium in the country.

How to play it: Guests at The University of Michigan Course can play for $135 on weekdays and $160 Friday through Sunday. The offer comes with a few freebies: you’ll receive a logo hat or towel and a lunch voucher with your tee time. Of course, if you can track down an alumni, student, faculty member, or other course affiliate, you’ll save money.

Seven Oaks Golf Club at Colgate University

Nestled in the small town of Hamilton, New York is Seven Oaks Golf Club, the golf course of Colgate University. The history of golf at Colgate dates back to 1916, when Hamiltonians and faculty members from Colgate University came together to create a golf club. A nine-hole course behind Colgate’s student dormitories was first built in 1917, named Seven Oaks in honor of the Colgate family tree. The onset of World War II postponed plans to build an 18-hole course, but when efforts were finally launched and funds acquired, Robert Trent Jones Sr. took control of the new Seven design Oaks.

Seven Oaks Golf Club is represented in Hamilton, New York.

Seven Oaks at Colgate University is playable for all golfers with its large greens.

According to Colgate University’s head golf coach, Keith Tyburski, the course’s recent additional renovations have made it more playable for people with moderate handicaps, but more tricky for its zero-level college players. “The golf course defense has gone from its length to the greens,” Tyburski said. “The greens are large, wide and undulating. You can add 15 yards or more to a hole with back pin placement, many of which are on higher tiers or sections of the greens.

How to play it: Seven Oaks is open to the public for $35 Monday through Thursday, $50 Friday, and $85 weekends and holidays.

Duke University Golf Club

Not only is Duke Golf Club worthy of a Premier League golf program, but it also has a fascinating history that will only complement the already fantastic playing experience. When World War II ended, the University hired Robert Trent Jones Sr. to design its course. He was quickly becoming one of golf’s most respected architects, and Duke wanted his home course to be a world-class championship venue. Five years after the course was finally opened for play in 1957, it landed as the host site for the 1962 NCAA golf championship. Rees Jones, the eldest son of Jones Sr., competed in that same championship for the Yale University.

Jones’ legacy with the Duke Golf Club doesn’t end there: In 1994, Rees set out to renovate the university’s course, seeking to restore the property’s natural beauty. Given his own competitive experience with the golf course, he has taken great care to improve the landing areas, green complexes, tee boxes and more. Today, Duke University Golf Club is known for its meandering creek scrambles and dramatic undulations.

How to play it: The Duke Golf Club is open to the public for daily play, with green fees set at $85 for Mondays and Tuesdays, $90 for Wednesdays and Thursdays, and $105 for Friday through Sunday tee times. Guests of the JB Duke and Washington Duke Inn play for a slightly reduced rate.

Ohio State University Golf Course (Scarlet)

One of two courses at the university’s Golf Club, Ohio State’s Scarlet Course boasts a stacked list of contributors to its esteemed design. Alister MacKenzie drew up original routing plans, but in 1938 Perry Maxwell oversaw the ultimate construction of the course after MacKenzie’s death. In 2005 major restorations began to convert the Scarlet back to MacKenzie’s vision. Hall of Famer and Buckeye alumnus Jack Nicklaus oversaw this most recent project. He lengthened the course to 7,400 yards and added state-of-the-art practice facilities for the Ohio State men’s and women’s golf teams. The extensive bunker complexes are one of the defining features of the course, which has now hosted several US Open qualifiers as well as the Korn Ferry Tour Children’s Hospital National Championship.

How to play it: The Ohio State Scarlet The course requires a bit more planning to play: you will need to find a student, faculty member, staff member, or University affiliate to accompany you while you play. Customers will pay an $80 green fee.

Michael C. Ford