Here's a look at the golf scenes in the 14 cities that are hosting NCAA Tournament teams and their fans:
First round: March 15-16
University of Dayton (Ohio) Arena
Dayton could be a little on the cool side during these new first-round 'play-in' games, but weather permitting, check out Golf Club at Yankee Trace Golf in nearby Centerville. The city-owned 27-hole facility is well conditioned and challenging, especially the Championship Course. Another favorite, in nearby Clayton, is Moss Creek Golf Club, a Dennis Griffiths-Chi Chi Rodriguez collaboration. Or a little closer in town, check out Kittyhawk Golf Center (http://www.golfnow.com/course-directory/ohio-golf-courses/dayton-golf-courses/kittyhawk-golf-center), a 54-hole Dayton municipal and Ohio's largest public facility.
<h2>Second, third rounds: March 17-19</h2>
Pepsi Center, Denver
In March, Denver's weather could beautiful - or snowing. If any case, the area is loaded with options for all budgets. Fans of Jim Engh's unique design style will want to check out Fossil Trace (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/colorado/golden/fossil-trace-golf-club.html) in Golden. Pete and P.B. Dye have a couple courses in the area, including Colorado Open-host Green Valley Ranch (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/colorado/denver/green-valley-ranch-golf-club.html) by P.B., or play one of Pete's earliest Western courses, Riverdale Dunes (http://www.golfcolorado.com/courses/brighton/dunes-at-riverdale/). The Colorado Golf Association also recently added an affordable new golf course in 2010, CommonGround Golf Course (http://www.golfcolorado.com/courses/aurora/commonground/), designed by Tom Doak.
St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Fla.
Golf weather is usually terrific on the central Gulf Coast of Florida, so a trip to Innisbrook Resort (http://www.travelgolf.com/resorts/florida/innisbrook-golf-resort.html) in nearby Palm Harbor would make for a nice diversion. The resort's Copperhead Course (http://www.floridagolf.com/courses/palm-harbor/innisbrook-copperhead/), host of the PGA Tour's Transitions Championship, rates near the top of the list for tour pros. Other top choices n the area would include the TPC Tampa Bay (http://www.floridagolf.com/courses/lutz/tpc-of-tampa-bay/), which hosts a Champions Tour event, the Pine Barrens course at World Woods (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/florida/brooksville/pine-barrens-at-world-woods-golf-club.html) and Saddlebrook Resort (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/florida/wesleychapel/saddlebrook-at-saddlebrook-golf-tennis-resort-resort.html).
McKale Center: Tucson, Ariz.
Keep your fingers crossed that your alma mater plays here, because Tucson is probably the tournament's best golf destination. The first place to start is the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain (http://www.golfnow.com/course-directory/arizona-golf-courses/marana-golf-courses/the-ritz-carlton-golf-club-dove-mountain-), the newest course in the area designed by Jack Nicklaus (http://www.worldgolf.com/golf-architects/jack-nicklaus.html) and home to the WGC Accenture Match Play. One of the best plays in the desert since the 1980s is Ventana Canyon Golf Club (http://www.golfarizona.com/courses/tucson/loews-ventana-canyon.htm), which has two really good Tom Fazio designs. And if you spent all your dough on tickets, Tucson has a solid, four-course municipal system, anchored by former LPGA host course Randolph Golf Course (http://www.golfarizona.com/courses/tucson/randolph-north.htm).
Verizon Center: Washington D.C.
The area around our nation's capital is rich with history and there are few golf courses in northern Virginia that capitalize on that. In Stafford, the Rick Jacobson-designed Augustine Golf Club (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/virginia/stafford/augustine-golf-club-semi-private.html) is a hilly, tree-lined layout named for George Washington's father. There's Raspberry Falls Golf and Hunt Club (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/virginia/leesburg/raspberry-falls-golf-hunt-club-semi-private.html), a 7,200-yard upscale Gary Player design in the heart of Virginia's horse country and Bull Run Country Club (http://www.golfnow.com/course-directory/virginia-golf-courses/haymarket-golf-courses/bull-run-golf-club), another fine Jacobson design near Civil War battleground sites. And finally, about an hour south of D.C., you'll find the Pete Dye-designed Gauntlet G.C. (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/virginia/hartwood/the-gauntlet-golf-club.html) as well as Cannon Ridge Golf Club (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/virginia/fredericksburg/cannon-ridge-golf-club.html) in Fredericksburg, where relics from major Civil War battles are readily visible.
<h2> Second, third rounds: March 18-20</h2>
Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, N.C.
Considered one of the better cities in America to live, Charlotte is a decent golf destination as well. In town, you'll find the heralded Highland Creek Golf Club (http://www.northcarolinagolf.com/courses/charlotte/highland-creek-golf-club/), a well conditioned course with fast greens. The Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed Rock Barn (http://www.northcarolinagolf.com/courses/conover/west-hills-north-ridge-at-rock-barn-club-of-golf/), located nearby Conover in the Blue Ridge foothills hosts a Champions Tour event and is open to the public. The area is also home to several good choices on the Carolina Golf Trail, including Birkdale Golf Club (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/northcarolina/huntersville/birkdale-golf-club-public.html), Highland Creek Golf Club (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/northcarolina/charlotte/highland-creek-golf-club-public.html), Tradition Golf Club (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/northcarolina/charlotte/the-tradition-golf-club.html) and Charlotte Golf Links (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/northcarolina/charlotte/charlotte-golf-links-public.html).
United Center, Chicago
While March might not be golf month in Chicago, you could catch a break. If Mother Nature does cooperate, head over to the famous Cog Hill Golf Club in Lemont, starting with the Drubsdread Course (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/illinois/lemont/course-4-dubsdread-at-cog-hill-golf-and-country-club.html), host of the PGA Tour's BMW Championship. Originally designed by Joe Lee and Dick Wilson, the longtime home of the Western Open was redone in 2008 by Rees Jones. But many also report that the Ravines Course (http://www.golfillinois.com/courses/lemont/cog-hill-2/), often dubbed 'Baby Dubs,' is a better value and just as enjoyable. Other great options in the Chicago area include the Tom Fazio-designed Glen Club (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/illinois/glenview/the-glen-club.html) in Glenview, the 27-hole Cantigny Golf Club (http://www.golfnow.com/course-directory/illinois-golf-courses/wheaton-golf-courses/cantigny-golf) in Wheaton and Aldeen Golf Course (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/illinois/rockford/aldeen-golf-club-public.html), an excellent municipal value in Rockford.
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
If it's an early spring in Cleveland, check out what some of the top architects have built designs around the city. Pete Dye designed 27-hole Fowler's Mill (http://www.golfnow.com/course-directory/ohio-golf-courses/chesterland-golf-courses/fowlers-mill-golf-course) just east of the city, and is U.S. Open Qualifier caliber. One of the more scenic courses is the Michael Hurdzan-Dana Fry designed Little Mountain Country Club (http://www.golfohio.com/courses/concord/little-mountain-cc/), set in rolling, wooded hills of northeast Ohio. This heavily wooded, target-style course is on the shorter side at just 6,616 yards. But if you want tough and long, the Reserve at Thunder Mill (http://www.golfnow.com/course-directory/ohio-golf-courses/madison-golf-courses/thunder-hill-golf-club) rates one of the Cleveland area's toughest, with over 7,500 yards and a 78.5 rating.
BOK Center: Tulsa, Okla.
One of the best public plays in the Tulsa area is Forest Ridge Golf Club (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/oklahoma/brokenarrow/forest-ridge-golf-club-public.html), a Randy Heckenkemper design in Broken Arrow, just east of downtown. It opened in 1989 as the area's first upscale public facility. Another excellent option in Broken Arrow is Emerald Falls Golf Club (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/oklahoma/brokenarrow/emerald-falls-golf-club.html). Designed by Jerry Slack, the 7,200-yard Emerald Falls was named among the top 10 new public golf courses by Golf Digest in 2008. Or you could try the scenic White Hawk Golf Club (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/oklahoma/bixby/white-hawk-golf-club.html), another good Heckenkemper design located in the Tulsa suburb of Bixby.
<h2>Southeast Regional, March 24-26</h2>
Louisiana Superdome: New Orleans
Another site that usually has good golf weather this time of year, New Orleans has plenty to offer. You might want to make your first stop at the Audubon Park Golf Course (dddd), a fun and well conditioned par 62 (it has 12 par 3s) in the heart of the city's Garden District. Audubon would make a great warm-up for the Pete Dye's TPC Louisiana (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/louisiana/neworleans/audubon-park-golf-course.html), one of the more accessible courses in the TPC network and host of the PGA Tour's Zurich Classic. Or you could try the 27 holes of Stonebridge (http://www.golfnow.com/course-directory/louisiana-golf-courses/gretna-golf-courses/stonebridge-golf-course), a semi-private club located just minutes from downtown in Gretna.
<h2>West Regional, March 24-26</h2>
Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif.
Congratulations on your team making it to the West Regional and sunny Anaheim, where it's bound to be prime golf weather in Orange County. High-end coastal golf is not too far away. Head south to Newport Beach about 15 miles to Pelican Hill Golf Resort (http://www.golfcalifornia.com/courses/newport-coast/pelican-hill-gc-north/), featuring 36 Tom Fazio-designed holes overlooking the Pacific Ocean. For a more affordable Fazio design, head inland to Oak Creek Golf Club (http://www.golfcalifornia.com/courses/irvine/oak-creek-gc/), which can often be booked under $100 at GolfNow.com (http://www.golfnow.com/). Or a little further down the price totem pole is Coyote Hills Golf Course (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/california/fullerton/coyote-hills-golf-course-public.html), a $50-$100 play that serves up 6,500 yards in foothills terrain.
<h2>Southwest Regional, March 25-27</h2>
Alamodome: San Antonio, Texas
Expect temperatures around 80 degrees in the Alamo City, which has become a true golf destination in recent years. You could stay and play at the new JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort, home of the 36 holes of the TPC San Antonio. The AT&T Oaks course (http://www.golftexas.com/golf-courses/south/san-antonio/tpc-oaks.htm) and AT&T Canyon course (http://www.golftexas.com/golf-courses/south/san-antonio/tpc-canyons.htm) host the PGA and Champions Tour, respectively. The old site of the Texas Open, Westin La Cantera Resort (http://www.travelgolf.com/resorts/texas/the-westin-la-cantera-resort.html), also has 36 scenic holes; there's 27 beautiful holes at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort, the city's old muni, Brackenridge (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/texas/sanantonio/brackenridge-municipal-golf-course-public.html), has been restored better than ever and now hosts the Texas Golf Hall of Fame.
<h2>East Regional, March 25-27</h2>
Prudential Center: Newark, N.J.
The Jersey side of metro New York City has some great golf courses, but they're all exclusive private clubs like Baltusrol Golf Club. Unfortunately, this isn't exactly a mecca of public-access gems. On the other side of Manhattan you can head out to Long Island and Bethpage State Park, home to five municipal golf courses anchored by the Black (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/newyork/farmingdale/black-at-bethpage-state-park-golf-course.html). You can also head just north of NYC to the new Pound Ridge Golf Club (http://www.golfnewyork.com/courses/pound-ridge/pound-ridge-cc/), an upscale, daily-fee course designed by Pete and P.B. Dye that features dramatic rock walls and a wealth of water hazards and wetlands.
<h2>Final Four and Championship, April 2-4</h2>
Reliant Stadium: Houston
Another good location to play golf this time of year, there are nearly 100 public golf courses in the Houston area. One must-play to first-time visitors is Tour 18 (http://www.golftexas.com/golf-courses/north-central/flower-mound/tour-18.htm), the original replica golf course, featuring look-alikes from Augusta National and TPC Sawgrass to name a few. If you can get a tee time at Redstone's Tournament Course (http://www.golftexas.com/golf-courses/south-east/houston/redstone-tournament.htm), conditions will never be better since the Shell Houston Open concludes April 3. Other good public plays include the 36 holes of Wildcat Golf Club (http://www.golfnow.com/course-directory/texas-golf-courses/houston-golf-courses/wildcat-golf-club), just minutes from Reliant Stadium, Timber Creek (http://www.golfnow.com/course-directory/texas-golf-courses/friendswood-golf-courses/timber-creek-golf-club---pines-course) on the south side, and the 36 holes of Cypresswood Golf Club (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/texas/spring/cypress-at-cypresswood-golf-club-public.html) on the north side in Spring.
by – Brandon Tucker and Mike Bailey