The Best Courses in College Football

By Ryan Asselta

 

Ohio State's Scarlet Course - The Best Courses of College Football
Ohio State’s Scarlet Course (Photo by The Ohio State University Golf Club)

 

College football is celebrating its 150th anniversary this season. While Power Five teams jostle for supremacy on the gridiron, many of football’s top conferences also feature some of the best golf programs and courses in the country.

Here’s our list of the best courses in each of college football’s Power Five conferences, and the best from the Non-Power Five:

 

Big Ten:

The Ohio State University Golf Club—The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)

The Best Courses of College Football
(Photo by The Ohio State University Golf Club)

 

Architect: Dr. Alister MacKenzie, 1938

The 36-hole Ohio State University Golf Club was designed by legendary architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie with the renowned Scarlet Course opening in 1938, and the Grey course following in 1940. The man responsible for Augusta National, Cypress Point, and Royal Melbourne left Buckeye nation with one of the premier golf clubs in college sports.

Jack Nicklaus called The OSU Golf Club his home for many years, while names like Tom Weiskopf and Meg Mallon also came through the Buckeye golf program. The Golden Bear left his permanent stamp on the course back in 2005 when he completed a two-year restoration project on the Scarlet course.

Runner-Up: The Ackerman-Allen Course at Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex—Purdue University (West Lafayette, Ind.)

 

ACC:

Duke University Golf Club—Duke University (Durham, N.C.)

The Best Courses of College Football
(Photo by Duke University Golf Club)

 

Architect: Robert Trent Jones Sr., 1957

Duke University Golf Club sits in the shadow of the historic Washington Duke Inn and has the Jones’s family fingerprints all over it. The Durham, N.C., golf course originally had plans to be built by architect Perry Maxwell in the 1930s before World War II got in the way. Years later, Robert Trent Jones Sr. was commissioned to build the course which eventually opened in 1957.

In 1994 the golf course underwent a major renovation, led by the son of RTJ, Rees Jones, who had played the golf course while at Yale University.

Director of Golf Ed Ibarguen says, “The course is like the back nine at Spyglass Hill and the back nine at Augusta National, all within the Duke forest.”

Runner-Up: UNC Finley Golf Course—University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, N.C.)

 

Big 12:

University of Texas Golf Club—University of Texas at Austin (Austin, Texas)

The Best Courses of College Football
(Photo by University of Texas Golf Club)

 

Architects: Roy Bechtol and Randy Russell, 2003

From the moment you pull up to University of Texas Golf Club, you know you’re in Longhorn Country. “Where Champions Play” is the club’s tagline as the golf program’s team and individual triumphs are proudly commemorated with a Walk of Fame. Framed photographs of UT alums Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, and Jordan Spieth plaster the walls, while the golf team’s most recent shining moment, the 2012 NCAA National Championship, is widely celebrated.

The course itself is truly breathtaking. Built on a 5,000-acre tract of land that used to be a working cattle ranch, the UT Golf Club sits between Lake Austin and Lake Travis, and challenges golfers with small, fast, undulating greens along with some of the most memorable par threes in Texas. Golfers are greeted midway through their round by a life-size Longhorn statue with an accompanying plaque honoring Spieth for his contributions to the UT golf team and his Masters and U.S. Open titles. Spieth also helped design the “Spieth Lower 40,” the club’s six-hole short course which opened in 2017.

Runner-Up: Karsten Creek Golf Club—Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, Okla.)

 

Pac 12:

Thunderbirds Golf Complex at Papago Golf Course—Arizona State University (Phoenix, Ariz.)

The Best Courses of College Football
(Photo by Papago Golf Course)

 

Architect: William Francis Bell, 1963

After spending 29 years at the Pete Dye designed Karsten Course in Tempe, the ASU golf program officially made its move to Papago in 2018. The state-of-the-art Thunderbirds Golf Complex is a 7,000-square-foot facility funded by the longstanding Thunderbirds Charitable Association. Five-time major champion and ASU alumnus Phil Mickelson designed the complex’s new short game practice area.

Pagago has been considered one of the best public layouts in Arizona for decades. Billy Bell, who also designed Torrey Pines, set the course in the shadows of the Papago Buttes, which provide a dramatic backdrop to multiple holes. The course is within the city limits of Phoenix, with views of Camelback Mountain.

Longtime players of Papago compare the golf course to TPC Harding Park, as both offer golfers an easy walk on an exceptional layout.

Runner-Up: Palouse Ridge Golf Course—Washington State University (Pullman, Wash.)

 

SEC:

UGA Golf Course—University of Georgia (Athens, Ga.)

The Best Courses of College Football
(Photo by L.C. Lambrecht)

 

Architect: Robert Trent Jones Sr., 1968

With one of the top golf courses in the college game right in their backyard, the success of former Bulldogs turned PGA Tour winners Bubba Watson, Kevin Kisner, and Brian Harman should come as no surprise.

Listed as one of Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s finest works in the state, the famed architect built UGA while simultaneously working on Atlanta Athletic Club and Stone Mountain Golf Club. The course was funded in part by the UGA student body. Back in the 1960s, if a student looked at their monthly college statement they’d see a $0.50 intramural sports fee, which was directed towards the construction of the golf course.

UGA maxes out at just over 7,200 yards providing a stiff test to college golfers during prestigious tournaments like the annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic.

Runner up: Auburn University Club—Auburn University (Auburn, Ala.)

 

Non-Power Five:

The Course at Yale—Yale University (New Haven, Conn.)

(Photo by L.C. Lambrecht)

 

Architects: Charles Blair Macdonald, Seth Raynor, and Charles Banks, 1926

Often regarded as the top collegiate golf course in the country, The Course at Yale is a no frills, pure test of golf. Difficult yet fair. Challenging while enjoyable.

The course’s par-three 9th hole, labeled “Biarritz,” features one of the most distinctive greens in all of golf—a 65-yard deep putting surface with the most severe slope ever seen by this well-traveled golfer.

Runner up: Taconic Golf Club—Williams College (Williamstown, Mass.)

What do you think about our list? Let us know in the comments below.