Golf and football collide in Canton Ohio

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Pro Football Hall of Fame

As the PGA Tour returns for its annual stop in Dublin, Ohio for the Memorial Tournament this week, the golf spotlight gleams once again on the Buckeye State.

While the golfing world may shine bright over Ohio this week, Tiger and the rest of the field are only an earshot away from the ghost of footballs past.

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Most golfers are sports fans, and there are a couple pilgrimages that true American sports fans should make.

One is to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The other is the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Each summer, the Pro Football Hall of Fame welcomes a new class of inductees. The annual Hall of Fame Game culminates the event, which encompasses a week of activities in early August.

It's the first NFL preseason game of the year, and it's the signal that all is right with the world, as most National Football League fans would agree.

But even if you're not attending the game, a visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is still inspiring, no matter what time of year you go. From the busts of Vince Lombardi to Roger Staubach, the Hall chronicles more than a century of pro football's history, the great teams and the sport's legendary players, seasons and moments.

You could even combine it with a ticket to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, about an hour north in Cleveland.

If your summer travels take you to the Pro Football Hall of Fame or the NFL’s Hall of Fame Game, don't forget your golf clubs.

While Canton itself is less than 100,000 in population, there are a number of exceptional public golf venues to play. And Ohio summer temperatures are ideal for golf.

One of the nicer courses in the area is The Quarry, a semi-private course that plays more than 7,000 yards from the tips.

Just minutes from downtown Canton, the course, which opened in 2006, was built on a 100-plus-year-old old quarry. The holes are routed around natural waste areas, 100-foot cliffs, streams and lakes. Although many of the shots are visually intimidating, the landing areas are bigger than they look, making The Quarry very playable.

Sanctuary Golf Club, which opened in 2002, is in North Canton. Designed by Brian Huntley, the golf course has bentgrass greens, tees and fairways. It also has five sets of tees and can be stretched to 6,811 yards.

Not too far from The Sanctuary is the Fairways of North Canton. Formerly private, the course, which opened in 1948, features a narrow front nine and hilly back nine.

Out in the country in between Canton and Akron, Ohio, you'll find Raintree Country Club, which is open for public play. Opened in 1992, Raintree has a mix of traditional and links style holes. Water comes into play on half the holes.

Seven Hills Country Club, in nearby Hartville, is also public. The 18-hole track offers plenty of trees, water and bunkers along with good, fast greens and well maintained fairways.

Opened in 1928 and located just minutes from the Hall of Fame, Tam O'Shanter Public Golf Course in Canton has two 18-hole courses. The Dales Course is the longer and the flatter of the two. The Hills Course features undulating greens. Both are par 70s.

Getting to and staying in the Canton area

Besides the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the area is also home to the McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, the National First Ladies Historical Site and Ohio's Amish country.

Canton has a number of bread and breakfast hotels as well as the major chains, so there's plenty of lodging. There are also plenty of bars and grills, including the 356th Fighter Group Restaurant, which is designed to resemble a World War II stronghold, complete with military vehicles, aircraft parts and sandbagged walls.

You can fly into the Akron-Canton Airport in North Canton on AirTran, Delta, Frontier, Northwest Airlink, United Express or U.S. Airways. By car, you can get to Canton on Interstate 77 to the north and south or Highway 30 from the western part of Ohio.