Best golf courses in the ACC


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.