Best golf courses in the ACC

By Brandon TuckerNovember 1, 2010, 6:20 pm
doral blue monster
No. 8 at TPC Blue Monster (Courtesy Doral)

No one is calling the ACC the top football conference anytime soon. But as a collective conference of golf destinations? It's certainly a contender. Stretching along the eastern seaboard from Boston to Miami, it has as many destinations as there are offensive playbooks, from coastal breezes of south Florida to the mountains in the Virginias.

If you're headed for the big game, bring your sticks and tee it up near campus. Here's your ACC primer for where to book a tee time before and after football.

University of Miami

You can't dispute the Hurricanes' home town as the top golf destination of the ACC. Posh resort options abound, starting with five-course Doral Resort, home of the TPC Blue Monster. Other resort plays include Don Shula Golf Resort, 36-hole Fairmont Turnberry Isle and the historic Biltmore Hotel, which features a Donald Ross design.

Beyond resort confines, locals have two beloved municipal courses, scenic Crandon Park G.C. on Key Biscayne, and Normandy Shores, fresh off an $8 million renovation.

top 10 college golf courses
Top 10 College Golf Courses
Georgia Tech

Yellow Jacket and Ryder Cup alumns Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar still call Atlanta home. The campus is located north central in the city, and Atlanta's north side is loaded with options.

The former Georgia Tech Club, now Echelon Golf Club, is an upscale Rees Jones design on 600 acres allowing limited visitor play this fall. Or visit Bear's Best, a collection of 18 Nicklaus' best holes. Crooked Creek at Alpharetta Athletic Club is also a mainstay pick in the northern area's upper class.

Closer to campus you'll find a lot of exclusive private clubs, but you can tee it up at historic, recently-renovated Bobby Jones Golf Club. If you're looking to name your price over any specific golf course, has over 50 courses listed around Atlanta separated by region.

Florida State University

Tallahassee has a lot of bargain plays that make it hard for students to decide between a case of beer and 18 holes, thanks to former golf team host Seminole Golf Club and municipal Hilaman Park.

The best play in Florida's capital city is Southwood Golf Club, an upscale semi-private golf club in a relatively new residential community. Older Killearn Country Club, which offers some limited public play, has the richest pedigree, host of 20 Tallahassee Opens and is a former LPGA Tour stop.

North Carolina

Students and visitors of UNC have a Tom Fazio gem in their backyard, UNC Finley Golf Club, which opened in 1999 and can tame collegiate big guns with 7,300-plus yards of intimidating hazards. A poll of college golf coaches ranked it seventh in the nation.

North Carolina State

The Wolfpack has a brand new course in Raleigh, Lonnie Poole Golf Course, opened in 2009. It was designed by Arnold Palmer with help from alums Erik Larsen and Brendan Jonhson. At under $50 it's affordable for students and visitors alike.

Between Raleigh and Durham there is a solid selection of public courses like Fred Couples-designed Chapel Ridge or The Preserve at Lake Jordan, a David Love III signature.

Duke University in Durham

Rivaling UNC's golf course in high ratings, Duke University Golf Club checked in at fifth in Golf Channel's 2009 coaches poll of the top college courses. Thankfully, it's public and not too pricy - even for Tar Heels.

Wake Forest in Winston-Salem

Winston-Salem itself is limited with good public-access courses, though there is an historic nine-hole course right on Wake's campus, the Paschal, which plays 2,900 yards. Just west, Tanglewood Park has two courses, including headliner Championship course, which was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and hosted the 1974 PGA Championship.

For more variety, it might be best to head east to Greensboro, where you can play Mike Strantz-designed Tot Hill Farm or Rees Jones' Bryan Park Champions course.

Clemson University

Golf course options are limited in this rural area in western South Carolina. But set on scenic Lake Hartwell, the Tigers boast a top university course, Walker Golf Course, rated 23rd in Links Magazine's list of college courses.

You can find more options by heading east to larger Greenville, home to some affordable plays such as Verdae Greens Golf Club, or head southeast to Cobb's Glen Country Club.

Virginia Tech

Rebuilt in 2005 along a picturesque mountain setting on New River, the Hokies' new home is the Pete Dye River Course, about 20 minutes outside Blacksburg. If your game is in midseason form, the tips play more than 7,600 yards.

In Blacksburg itself, there are two more casual nine-hole options, Virginia Tech Golf Course and Blacksburg Golf Course.

University of Virginia

Built in 1984, Virginia's Birdwood Golf Course ranks No. 21 on Links Magazine's list and is affiliated with the Boar's Head Hotel. it's an affordable play compared to the premium mountain courses that surround the area.

Historic Keswick Club dates back to 1939 with a revamped design by Arnold Palmer. Elsewhere, Wintergreen's Devil's Knob course and Stoney Creek course also tip-toe along the tops of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

University of Maryland

Just north of D.C. in College Park, the University of Maryland Golf Course is king, stretching to more than 7,000 yards. On the north border of campus is Paint Branch Golf Course, an affordable nine-hole state park course. A little farther north you can play Cross Creek Golf Club, a new design opened in 2002 set in scenic woodlands.

Editor's Note: Given the average temperatures in the area this time of year, we omitted Boston College from this list.

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''