By Land and By Air
Few things get the heart pumping like witnessing an F-18 Hornet whistling by, a mere 100 feet off the ground, at about 350 mph. That’s one of the many thrills of attending an air show.
Air shows take flight all around the country this time of year, given the ideal weather conditions for demonstrations of aeronautical excellence. Here’s a checklist of the top shows coming up that offer an aviation adrenaline rush, along with nearby GolfNow courses that offer a chance to also squeeze a round of 18.
Oregon International Air Show, Sept. 19-21
Just west of Portland, Ore., the Hillsboro Airport sits on rolling farmland that has been transformed into one of the best wine-producing regions in the world. The topography also makes a course like Ghost Creek at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club one of the best public layouts in the country.
Ghost Creek, designed by Bob Cupp, opened in 1992 to rave reviews and landed itself on numerous “Best of” lists. Ghost Creek hosted the 1996 U.S. Amateur (won by Tiger Woods who then turned pro) and the 1998 U.S. Women’s Open.
The Memphis Air Show, Oct. 18-19
It seems most golf facilities in Memphis are on the south side; Quail Ridge Golf Course is no exception. Yet, located in the Memphis suburb of Barlett, it is just over 20 minutes away from the Millington Regional Jetport, which plays host to the annual Memphis Air Show featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.
David Pfaff, a disciple of Pete Dye, did wonders with the unique topography in this part of Tennessee. Pfaff brilliantly incorporated elevation changes and a creek to give Quail Ridge a countrified but stern feel.
Wings Over Houston Air Show, Nov. 1-2
Located south of Houston, the Ellington Airport sits within easy reach of several golf courses. But for a real Texas feel, The Battleground at Deer Park is our favorite choice. It offers plenty of challenges from the back tees, which stretch out to just over 6,700 yards, while also challenging your knowledge of Texas history.
Each hole at Battleground is named after landmarks in Texas history. Some of which include Patrick’s Cabin, where the treaty for Texas independence was drafted (the 17th hole), and San Jacinto Monument, commemorating the heroes of the Battle of San Jacinto (the 18th hole).
Pensacola NAS Air Show, Nov. 7-9
Not only is this the U.S. Navy Blue Angels’ home base, this show also marks the 100th anniversary of the Pensacola Naval Air Station. Clearly this air show will be one you don’t want to miss.
Twenty minutes west of the base is the Lost Key Golf Club, an Arnold Palmer Design Group course that offers a strong challenge to golfers of any caliber. Thanks to its many water holes and hazards, it carries the nickname “Lost Balls.”
While it may only measure 6,800 yards from the back tees, this course carries a whopping 144 slope rating. But all those hazards speak to its standing as an Audubon International Silver Signature Sanctuary. In other words, make sure to enjoy the wildlife while you conquer your descent.
Los Angeles County Air Show, March 2015
The LA County Air Show in Lancaster is one of the country’s biggest aeronautical displays. In terms of access to golf, though, it’s one of the most remote. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible for us to squeeze in a quick 18 before the planes come in.
Angeles National Golf Club in Sunland, about 60 minutes south of the show and on the north ridge of the San Fernando Valley, is a beautifully designed Jack Nicklaus course. Only the most accomplished players (or the bravest) will want to challenge its 7,100-yard back tees, but everyone can enjoy the mountainous views of the Angeles National Forest and the compelling green complexes that accompany it.
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