You may be surprised to learn that nestled amongst the roaring stadiums and historic campuses, many college towns are home to a plethora of golf courses that host some of the best college golf programs. Next time you are out touring these campuses, make sure to stop by the local course. We have compiled a list of some of the most beautiful courses in and around big college towns that you’ll want to check out.
New Haven, Connecticut (Northeast)
Top Golf Schools in Connecticut: Yale University, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield University, University of Connecticut
If you find yourself in the Northeast, it is a great excuse to visit one of the most prestigious universities in the country. Yale University has a competitive varsity team, as well as a club team for those interested in continuing their college golf careers. Yale Golf Course is the home-base for the university team. It has been ranked #83 in the World by Golf Magazine and the #1 College Course in America by Golfweek. In 1923, under the supervision of Charles Blair Macdonald, the renowned golf course architect, champion golfer, and co-founder of the USGA, plans were made for an 18-hole golf course. With a budget of $400,000, Macdonald, in collaboration with Seth Raynor, designed a masterpiece which opened for play in 1926. Today, the Yale Golf Course is recognized as one of the finest examples from the Macdonald & Raynor portfolios. Yale Golf Course is open to guests, however, they require that you register for a tee time, as no walk-on play is permitted. The fee to play this course at a daily rate is a little more expensive for non-student and faculty members.
Only a 15 minute drive from the Yale Golf Course sits another award-winning course located in Milford, Connecticut. Great River Golf Club is a championship-style, Tommy Fazio-designed 18-hole golfing destination offering a first-class experience for golfers of all abilities. It is also the home course to another Division I golf program at Sacred Heart University. Great River has been recognized as one of America’s top 100 modern golf courses by Golf Digest. Like Yale Golf Course, Great River is open to non-members. They also require booking a tee time prior to your visit. What makes Great River a standout course is the emphasis they put on Junior golfers. For anyone under 16, green fees are significantly cheaper at $75 a day. Green Fees include the use of a golf cart, use of the practice areas before your round, and a private locker for the day. They also encourage junior golfers by offering junior clinics and camps. These programs feature a teaching and coaching staff comprised of PGA professionals as well as local college team golf coaches and college players.
Although listed as a private golf club, Brooklawn Country Club located in Fairfield, Connecticut has a rich history including being the host to numerous USGA Championships. Only a 25 minute drive south of Great River Golf Club, Brooklawn has been the launching pad for a number of notable golfers over the years. The club entered a partnership with Fairfield University as the home of the Stags’ men’s and women’s golf teams. The club is considered private, and does not appear to offer course access to non-members, however, they may offer tours for visitors.
Bloomington, Indiana (Midwest)
Top Golf Schools in Indiana: University of Notre Dame, Indiana University, Purdue University, Butler University
Indiana is home to many notable DI Golf schools, which means there are plenty of remarkable courses to visit. One of Indiana’s most popular college towns, Bloomington, is home to one of the nine Indiana University campuses. The Pfau Course is home to Indiana University’s golf program. It was designed by highly-acclaimed architect Steve Smyers, and two-time major winner and Hoosier native Fuzzy Zoeller. It is among the premiere public golf courses in the Midwest. Opened in 2020, The Pfau Course at Indiana University was built on the same 265-acre east side Bloomington property previously occupied by the IU Championship Golf Course, the original Par-3 course, and the IU Cross Country Course since the 1950s. But other than its location, everything about The Pfau Course is different from its predecessor, providing golfers with a new must-see, must-experience destination golf course just minutes from the Indiana University campus. Like other public courses, they require a scheduled tee time, but is completely open to non-members for a pretty reasonable fee.
In the event that you find yourself in Boilermaker territory, then you are in luck. West Lafayette, Indiana is where the esteemed Purdue University calls home. The DI golfers at Purdue University are spoiled with two premier on-campus golf courses. Ranked No. 14 and No. 24 in the “25 Greatest College Golf Courses in America” article shared by Golf Digest, the Ackerman-Allen Course and the Kampen-Cosler Course are found within the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex. The Ackerman-Allen and Kampen-Cosler Courses are both 18-hole, parkland-style, par-72 championship golf courses featuring large bent-grass greens, fairways and tees designed by Pete Dye. Kampen-Cosler is rated one of the top collegiate courses in the nation and has been awarded 4.5 stars on Golf Digest’s “Places to Play.” Both courses are open to the public, but require a reserved tee-time.
If you intend to travel to the Northern part of the state, you should plan your next stop at the University of Notre Dame. Ranked as one of the best courses in the US, and the best public course in Indiana according to Golf Pass, Warren Golf Course is full of historical significance. The William K. and Natalie O. Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame opened in the fall of 1999 thanks to the generous benefaction of William K. Warren, Jr., ND class of 1956. It has been the host course of several notable tournaments like the 2019 U.S. Senior Open, for example. It is now home to the University of Notre Dame varsity golf teams. Warren Golf Course is a very reasonable public course, with discounted rates for Juniors under 18. If you aren’t interested in playing a full 18 holes, you can stop by their Clubhouse for a snack or the Golf Shop for some new gear.
Less than a 10 minute drive from Warren Golf Course you’ll find another course affiliated with the University of Notre Dame and other local universities. Burke Golf Course was designed as a regulation 18-hole course in 1929, but today consists of 9 holes in the picturesque setting of Notre Dame. It is open to students, faculty/staff of Notre Dame, St. Mary’s, and Holy Cross, as well as to the general public. Although a smaller course, Burke Golf Course is great if you want to get a quick round in while visiting the area. The Green Fees for this course are extremely reasonable, and they offer a discount for Juniors as well.
Gainesville, Florida (Southeast)
Top Golf Schools in Florida: Florida A&M University, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, University of South Florida, Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University
The Sunshine State is known for having a large population of golfers. The state of Florida also has quite a large number of golf courses sprinkled throughout the state to accommodate golfers coming from all across the country. One of the most popular college towns, Gainesville, Florida, is the home of the University of Florida golf team. The University of Florida comes in as the third best DI golf school in the country. The Mark Bostick Golf Course is anchored the northwest corner of the University of Florida’s campus, and is the practice course for the DI team. Although the course was originally designed by renowned architect Donald Ross during the 1920s, it has evolved over the years to take on its own distinct personality. The course is private and you must be affiliated with the University or a guest of someone who is, in order to play. However, if you are in the area and are looking for a public course to play, Ironwood Golf Course is only a 15 minute drive from campus. This course was named by Golf Digest as one of the best places to play, and hosts over 50 tournaments a year.
Ranked within the top 25 best DI golf schools, Florida State University is located in the northern-most area of the state. The state capital of Tallahassee, is home to both Florida State University and Florida A&M University which are within walking distance from each other. Both schools have DI golf programs. Some notable alumni of Florida State University include Paul Azinger, Hubert Green, Jeff Sluman, George McNeill, Jonas Blixt, Daniel Berger, and Brooks Koepka. Located on the campus of Florida State University, the Seminole Legacy Golf Club is one of the premier University golf courses in the country, serving as the home for both the FSU Men’s and Women’s golf teams. Not to be confused with the Seminole Golf Club, which is a private course located in Juno Beach, both courses get their name from the Native American people who developed in Florida in the 18th century. The Seminole Legacy Golf Club is currently offering memberships to Florida State University students, faculty, staff, and friends of the University. Otherwise, the course is private and not open to visitors. However, if you find yourself in the area and want to play a quick round, there are plenty of public courses within a 10 mile radius. The Jake Gaither Golf Course is one which has quite a rich history. Added to the National Register of Historic Places on Aug. 9, 2022, by the National Park Service, the nine-hole course was opened in 1956 by the City, giving African Americans a place to play golf during a time when they were restricted from playing elsewhere. It quickly became a community hub, serving as the site of Guinness World Record attempts and a home base for the Florida A&M University Golf Team until the early 1970s. The course offers reserved tee times at a very reasonable rate for those who want to play a 9 or 18 hole game.
Centrally located in the city of Orlando you will find the University of Central Florida. The UCF Knights are a nationally recognized DI golf team. Built in 2009 and renovated in 2012, the Knights enjoy one of the top training venues in the nation in the UCF Golf Practice Facility. The facility is located near the UCF campus at the Twin Rivers Golf Club in Oviedo. Just a short 5 minute drive from the main campus, the Twin Rivers Golf Club is a semi-private golf club which does offer public play. You can reserve a tee time online if you wish to play this 18-hole championship course. The club is also a huge supporter of junior golf; offering programs for all skill levels. They offer a Fall Junior League, with practice one day a week, as well as camps – the next of which will be their Winter Camp. If you are a junior golfer located in Central Florida, we encourage you to check out their website to inquire about different opportunities for juniors.
If you are traveling further South down the East coast of the state, you’ll find some of the most popular beach towns and cities in Florida. Right in the heart of Boca Raton is where the Florida Atlantic University is found. On the outskirts of the main campus, there are several golf courses for students to choose from. The Florida Atlantic University men’s golf team enjoys one of the biggest benefits of living in South Florida: the pristine golf courses right at their fingertips. The team practices and hosts opponents at some of the finest courses in Boca Raton and Palm Beach County including the Osprey Point Golf Course. Osprey Point is one of the top public golf courses in Florida. It features 27 holes spread out in three nine-hole courses and a Platinum Paspalum turf, which presents a lush playing surface from tee to green. The best part about this course is that it operates as a public course but feels like a private one due to the gorgeous layout and renovation. Like most standard public courses, tee times are available to book in advance.
Although there aren’t any other DI golf schools further South of Florida Atlantic University, you may want to continue your road trip anyway. There are many more stunning public golf courses on your way to Miami. For example, Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne is one of the top public courses in America and was the site of the Senior PGA Tour for 18 years. It is located practically on an island of it’s own, off the coast of Miami. Plantation, Florida contains Jacaranda Golf Club, which has been rated 4 Stars by Golf Digest and is host to many PGA, USGA, and FSGA Championship Events. There’s many more to see in this beautiful state. It may take more than three road trips to get through it all!
Palo Alto, California (West)
Top Golf Schools in California: Stanford University, University of California, University of Southern California, Pepperdine University, California State University
California is the home state to the school that time and time again has been awarded best Division I golf school in the country. Stanford University is located centrally between San Jose and San Francisco in the Northern part of the state. Stanford students have access to their very own course just West of the main campus. The Stanford Golf Course is open to current Stanford University faculty/staff, students, members, alumni and their guests. Throughout the years, Stanford has hosted many intercollegiate and non-collegiate events, including U.S. Open Qualifying, Women’s NCAA Championships, NCAA Regionals, Pac-12 Championships and the USGA Junior Amateur Qualifying. Although visitors may not be allowed to indulge in this beautiful course, the Golf Shop and Clubhouse are open to the public. The Stanford Golf Team has some very notable alumni including Tiger Woods, Notah Begay, Tom Watson, Mickey Wright, and Sandy Tatum.
Perhaps one of the most famous public golf courses, continuously ranked as the #1 course in America, Pebble Beach Golf Links hosted its sixth U.S. Open in 2019, more than any other course over the last 50 years. It is located South of San Jose, about an hour and a half from the Stanford campus. Being one of the most popular courses in the country, the rates to play this course are extremely competitive. It may be worth the price for a once in a lifetime opportunity to check out such a beauty.
The University of California consists of ten different campuses. Six of those campuses compete in the NCAA Division I league. UCLA consistently ranks as one of the top in the country, with notable alumni such as Patrick Cantlay, Scott McCarron, and John Merrick. UCLA has their own on-campus practice facility nicknamed “The Giff” because of the donations by Jack and Rhodine Gifford who have been generous supporters of UCLA Athletics. However, just North of the main campus sits the Bel-Air Country Club. It has served as UCLA’s home course for more than 40 years and is located five minutes from campus. Guests must be accompanied by a member at all times, so playing this course as a visitor is not likely. The same goes for the Bruin’s other practice courses, Brentwood Country Club and Hillcrest Country Club. Many of the courses or clubs surrounding UCLA have strict memberships. However, there are some great public courses to visit all throughout Los Angeles and the surrounding cities. Situated between Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, Rancho Park Golf Course has been host to eighteen Los Angeles Opens as well as numerous LPGA and Senior tour events. The Green Fees are fairly reasonable, with a significant discount for Juniors. The golf course is a challenging and undulating course requiring a great deal of skill. University of California Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, and San Diego also offer competitive DI golf programs. So no matter what area of California you plan to visit, there are plenty of award-winning courses to check out.
Located in Los Angeles, not far from the UCLA campus, is the University of Southern California. The Rolling Hills Country Club serves as the home facility for the USC men’s and women’s golf teams. Like other’s Rolling Hills is a private club which does not offer admission for guests on the green. However, if you are in the area, the club does offer tours of the entire facility. You can request a tour on their website.
Lastly, if you are interested in a school outside of the main city area, yet within an hour drive, you should consider Pepperdine University. The Men’s golf team practice at a variety of local courses and clubs. Sherwood Country Club is no stranger to hosting the top players in the world. Jack Nicklaus once stated, “This was one of the more magnificent pieces of land I’ve had the opportunity on which to design a golf course. It is rare to see a piece of property that is so private, with so much natural beauty. There isn’t another golf course in the World that has a more beautiful tree complex than Sherwood.” Like most, Sherwood Country Club is a members only club, so you would not have the pleasure of playing the course as a visitor.
Get Started with JGH
Create an account to gain access to our Tournament Finder! A helpful resource for our Junior golfers to find local qualifiers and tournaments to boost their rankings.