Know your professor. That’s our bit of advice for you freshmen. We’ll explain why at the end of the article. With great foresight, many of the finest colleges and universities across the land reserved space for golf on their property. With great hindsight, many others found space for golf courses nearby or redid the courses that they had, using each generation’s finest architects to craft a memorable, enjoyable layout. Our task is to help you schedule your most worthwhile classes, errr, courses … golf courses, right? Back to school, it is, beginning with geography.
New England, New York, and Pennsylvania have some of the country’s finest, college-affiliated golf courses. The consensus #1, Yale, was built by none other than Charles Blair MacDonald and Seth Raynor. If you don’t recognize their names, google away. Donald Ross’ course at Mount Holyoke College, The Orchards, hosted the USGA Women’s Open. And a young Jack Nicklaus made an ace at the national junior at Williams College’s acclaimed Taconic. Add Middlebury College in Vermont, Dartmouth in New Hampshire, Penn State and Bucknell in Pennsylvania, and Cornell and Colgate in New York offer tremendous golf experiences
Nothing like a Michigan-Ohio State football battle on an autumn Saturday, am I right? The same goes for golf. OSU’s Alister MacKenzie course is always ranked pretty high on college-course lists. Guess who else has a MacKenzie? Yup, the maize, and blue of the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. Move south, west, however, you wish in America’s heartland, and find you will some great golf at Vanderbilt in Tennessee, Purdue and Notre Dame in Indiana, and Madison in Wisconsin. If the northeast had the head start in building fine college courses, the midwest caught up quickly.
If ever there were a place to not have a need for college golf courses, it’s the American southeast. Everywhere you travel, a development course appears. Southerners love their golf, and yet, matriculate at Chapel Hill (George Cobb) or Duke (Robert Trent Jones, Sr.) in North Carolina, Athens (Jones and Davis Love III) in Georgia, Gainseville (Bobby Weed) in Florida, and Furman (Kris Spence) in South Carolina, and golf comes as a perq.
Texas Tech and Texas A & M are about 450 miles apart in the land known as Texas, and each has a fine golf course on site. Tom Doak redid the Rawls Course at Tech, while Jeff Blume did the redesign work at A & M’s College Course, 60 years after the course first opened. New Mexico U and New Mexico State also boast layouts of their own
Land out west is not nearly as plentiful as it once was, so the fact that Washington State and Stanford University have courses they call their own is quite a coup. John Harbottle’s work at Palousie Ridge (W. State) quietly garnered the #2 country-wide ranking for college courses, while William Bell and George C. Thomas gave Stanford an eponymous gem for all time.
Going back to school
Remember that caveat from the article’s first sentence? Know your professor. Well, that’s how it works with college-course access, too. Most college courses have restrictions on outside play, preferring to offer times to students, faculty, and members. Your professor, err, PGA professional, is the key to getting on the 50+ college courses across America. Have your club pro make a call to the golf shop, and something can usually be arranged. You’ll pay green fees, but you’ll have a chance to step back in time and walk in the footsteps of the kids once more.