5 Must Play Courses This Fall
When there’s some snap in the air and the days get a little cooler and shorter, you know it is fall. And for many autumns is the best time of the year to play. Courses can be particularly beautiful this time of year, and also less crowded. That’s why these five must-play courses this fall are worth a look.
Gailes Course (Oscoda, Mich.)
The Gailes Course at the renowned Lakewood Shores Resort near the shores of Lake Huron on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula offers a unique contrast. Architect Kevin Aldridge laid out a Scottish links course, complete with sod bunkers, large, double greens, meandering creeks – oops, excuse me: meandering burns – and humps and hollows in the fairway. But this layout is cut out of the northern forests, whose leaves turn yellow-orange-red this time of year. It can be distracting, which adds to the challenge.
Thornapple Creek Golf Club (Kalamazoo Township, Mich.)
Thornapple Creek Golf Club in southwest Michigan encapsulates the best of Midwest golf. It has that hometown country club feel – great practice facilities, fun and beautiful layout – and, of course, those ever-so-nice Michigan golf lovers. This is the sort of place where Chicagoans are willing to drive the 150 miles to north of Kalamazoo just to get in three or four weekend rounds solely for the value and the pleasant experience.
West Chase Golf Club (Brownsburg, Ind.)
The West Chase Golf Club outside Indianapolis also offers a contrasting blend. The front nine is open and wide and thus encourages a links-approach: lower shots that run on the ground toward the target. The back nine becomes more traditional Indiana plains golf – rolling terrain, water hazards and trees. This semi-private club, less than 30 minutes from central Indy in Brownsburg, used to be farm country (the old silo next to the practice green gives it away) but architect Ron Kern has created a fun course of 6,700 yards.
Eagle Creek Pine Course (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Eagle Creek Pine Course has the distinction of hosting the 1982 USGA Publinx Championship, and it has stood the test of time to rank regularly among the best open-to-the-public courses. This Pete Dye layout attests to the master’s ability to blend shot values into natural settings. And, yes, it has the railroad ties so peculiar of Dye courses from that era. This course appears to be constructed in an animal habitat and yet it lies within Indianapolis city limits. And making matters even better is its sister course, Sycamore, which features its own set of challenges. This is a real blessing for the Indianapolis market.
Mississippi Dunes Golf Club (Cottage Grove, Minn.)
With one thousand yards bordering the Mississippi River, the dominant feature of Mississippi Dunes Golf Club is clear. Yet, located less than 20 minutes from downtown St. Paul, this course places you into the upper Midwest terrain of rolling hills, natural prairie grasses and the ineluctable feel of the Mississippi River tugging on every putt. It’s also a great betting course in that it has six par-5s, par-4s and par-3s, all designed with the spirit of Alistair MacKenzie in mind.
Featured image of West Chase Golf Club courtesy of West Chase.