A Quick Nine: America's Best College Courses

The 17th hole - The Tiger Paw - at The Walker Course at Clemson Univ.
Courtesy Clemson University
The 17th hole - The Tiger Paw - at The Walker Course at Clemson Univ.
By
T.J. Auclair, Interative Producer
PGA.com

Series: A Quick Nine

Published: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | 12:06 a.m.

Everyone takes pride in their school. People go crazy when making a case as to why their school is best.

This week, we asked our friends in PGA.com Facebook Nation to brag on their alma mater -- specifically, the golf course at their alma mater if the school has one.

Our goal was to discover which college boasts the best golf course.

You flooded our page with hundreds of responses. There were overwhelming favorites. Without further adieu, here are the top 9 you chose. Be sure to see if your comment made the cut and snuck into our feature:

9. The Walker Course at Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.

This 18-hole championship course designed by D.J. DeVictor is home to the 2003 NCAA National Champion Clemson University Tigers men's golf team.

The course is open year-round and is open to the public. It accommodates golfers of every skill level, playing at 6,911 yards from the Tiger tees and a very playable 5,934 yards from the white tees.

Clemson says that its last five holes, including the signature Tiger Paw 17th hole (a spin on Clemson's logo), run along the shores of Lake Hartwell and offer the most spectacular collection of finishing holes in the Southeast.

Facebook fan quotes:

"You people are out of your minds. Clemson's Walker Course is not only one of the nicest courses in the Southeast, it's one of the nicest collegiate courses in the country. The Tiger Paw 17th hole is amazing!" -- Mark Richards

"The Walker Course, Clemson University." -- Tony Horton

8. Stanford University Golf Course, Stanford, Calif.

Designed in 1930 by renowned golf course architects William Bell and George C. Thomas, Jr. Stanford University Golf Course is consistently rated one of the finest courses in the world.

In 1998, the golf course was rated 91st in the country by Golf Week Magazine and in 1993 was rated 88th in the world by Golf Magazine.

Stanford University Golf Course is steeped in tradition. Throughout the years, Stanford has hosted many intercollegiate and non-collegiate events, including the Stanford Invitational, Pac-10 Championships, NCAA Western Regional, Women's NCAA Championships, USGA Junior Amateur Qualifying, U.S. Open Qualifying and a former Champions Tour event, The Gathering at the Farm.

Stanford University Golf Course has also produced many influential golfers throughout the years. Such notables include former USGA presidents Sandy Tatum and Grant Spaeth, and PGA Tour professionals Tom Watson, Tiger Woods and Notah Begay III.

Facebook fan quotes:

"One of my best golfing buddies went out west a few years back and played all the great California courses (you all know which ones), and he was most impressed with the Stanford course. Even over Pebble." -- George Ochs

"Stanford! Also has the best practice facility hands down better than most country Ccubs in the world!" -- David Green

7. The Course at Yale, New Haven, Conn. Opened for play in 1926, Yale Golf Course is recognized as one of the finest examples of early American golf course design. Large deeply bunkered greens and narrow rolling fairways are the core of Yale's penalizing character.

In 1988, Golf Magazine ranked Yale as 71st among the 100 most difficult courses in the world. Many recognize the layout as the best collegiate course in the nation (something that wasn't lost on us at PGA.com when reading your responses!). Two of the holes -- the 432-yard par-4 fourth and the 238-yard par-3 ninth -- have been ranked among the 100 most difficult holes.

The Yale course has been the site of every significant state championship, two USGA Junior National events, the 1991 NCAA Eastern Regional championships, the 1991 ECAC Men's Championship and the 1992 ECAC Women's Championship. During the NCAA tourney, only 21 sub-par rounds were recorded of the 360 played during the three days. The course has also been the home of the Nationwide Tour's Connecticut Open.

Facebook fan quotes:

"Yale has an unbelievably difficult course from the tips with some really wild holes. Loved it!" -- Steve Woodall

"Yale. Brilliant design." -- Frank Pasquale

6. Rutgers University Golf Course, New Brunswick, N.J.

Over 6,300 yards in length, the picturesque, tree-lined course is a par 71 and offers a challenging layout with four teeing areas per hole. Highlights include narrow fairways, fast greens and water hazards on nine holes.

The 18-hole Rutgers University Golf Course is open to the general public. Founded in 1963, the course is located on Rutgers University's Busch Campus in Piscataway. The mission of the course is to ensure that every player enjoys a timely round of golf played on superior fairways and true greens with uncompromising service and instruction.
Facebook fan quotes:

"Rutgers is on there because of their amazing turf science program at the agricultural college... some of the best kept grass on the east coast." -- Scott Holcombe

"I agree with USF the claw for the fact that it is one of the tightest tracks in NCAA but, honestly, Rutgers University has one of the nicest 18-hole par 71's that I have ever played. They run a phenomenal turf management program and spend a lot of time and effort on the course. I have crisscrossed the country for NCAA golf and can honestly say that Rutgers will forever be one of the nicest in my book!" -- David Bradshaw

5. Washington National Golf Course, Auburn, Wash. (University of Washington)

Proud home to the University of Washington's men's and women's golf teams, Washington National Golf Club was designed by award-winning architect John Fought.

Featuring a brilliant layout, the course is enhanced by impeccable playing conditions, contrasting transitional areas and sheer grandeur. Tee options range from 5,100 to 7,300 yards and motivate and reward players of all skill levels.

Washington National embraces its relationship with the University with a Husky theme that runs throughout the complex, encompassing the tee box markings and flagsticks along with golf carts named for legendary Husky athletic figures. Also included in the layout is a public and private practice facility with a range reserved just for the University of Washington golf teams. The practice center features a rye grass teeing ground, synthetic turf mats for use during inclement weather, a practice bunker, a bentgrass chipping green and an 11,000 sq. ft. practice putting green.

Facebook fan quotes:

"UW... Washington National. This course is well manicured and incredibly challenging. Shot/course management is necessary in order to score at all. The bunkers are just that -- bunkers. The sight lines from the tee boxes are beautiful, as is the surroundings/terrain. I know there's an east coast bias out there, and I know there are MANY great courses out on the right... but I'm telling you, this place is magnificent." -- Tommy MacDonald

"I agree with Tommy MacDonald. Washington National (University of WA) is spectacular. You have to truly manage each shot and not just get out there and play what you might think is a "normal" round. There are not only bunkers, but plenty of waste areas to challenge even the best golfer. Beautiful location, excellent maintenance, friendly staff... fabulous finishing hole." -- Janet Young

4. Oklahoma State's Karsten Creek, Stillwater, Okla.

In the 1970's Mike Holder (former OSU Head Golf Coach and current OSU Athletic Director) envisioned a sanctuary for college golf. After many years of planning and fundraising, the pieces were finally in place to create what is now Karsten Creek.

With the talents of renowned golf course designer, Tom Fazio, spawned one of the most challenging golf courses in the country. On May 9, 1994, the course opened, and was named the "Best New Course" in the country by Golf Digest.

The zoysia fairways were cut from a forest of oaks and black jacks, complemented by an undulating terrain that flows throughout the course. The back nine cascades around the 110-acre Lake Louise, which is featured on the finishing holes. Complementing the course, are the clubhouse, two multi-level guest lodges and state of the art practice and teaching facilities.

Karsten Creek was so named to honor the late Karsten Solheim, founder of Karsten Manufacturing (PING), and Lake Louise honors his wife. The Solheims support of OSU golf over the last 20 years has been instrumental in the success of the golf program. As the home of the Oklahoma State men's and women's golf programs, the course is kept in a challenging condition, allowing team members to maintain their competitive edge.

Facebook fan quotes:

"Oklahoma State has a darn fine home course." -- Chris Tiger "Easy; Karsten Creek, Stillwater, Ok. OSU! Pretty good team also." -- Pep Pepmiller

3. Purdue University's Kampen Course, West Lafayette, Ind.

The Kampen Course, a Pete Dye design, is an 18-hole, links-style, par-72 championship golf course featuring large bent-grass greens, fairways and tees. The layout presents a challenge for golfers of all abilities with vast sand bunkers, native grasslands, ponds and a natural celery bog. Kampen offers five sets of tees with the championship tees playing over 7,400 yards and the forward tees playing at 5,300 yards. Kampen is rated one of the top collegiate courses in the nation (which would explain all the love it got on our Facebook page!) and has been awarded 4.5 stars on Golf Digest's "Places to Play." Kampen receives high marks as it is ranked as one of the most difficult golf courses in Indiana.

The course has also played host to a number of prestigious collegiate and public tournaments such as the 2000 Men's Big Ten Championship, the 2003 Women's NCAA Championship, the 2004 Indiana Open, the 2005 Women's Western Amateur, and the 2008 Men's NCAA Championship. The course is named in honor of Emerson Kampen and his support of Purdue Athletics. Mr. Kampen's statue overlooks the first tee.

Facebook fan quotes:

"I would go with Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. There are two courses, both have great challenge and the students do great work there." -- Melanie Scheumann

"The Kampen course at Purdue University! Not your typical Pete Dye design! Go Boilers! Thanks Melanie for the other vote of confidence!" -- Janet Ortega

"Purdue University-Kampen Course. Held the NCAA's, and one of the hardest courses in the country. The school's agriculture students take care of it, so it's always in pristine shape." -- Justin Inabnitt

2. The Claw at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla.

Gary Koch, former PGA Tour player and current NBC golf analyst, holds the course record at The Claw with his 7-under 64 at the William F. Mitchell design.

The 18-hole "University of South Flori" course at the The Claw At USF facility features 6,809 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 71 . The course rating is 73.1 and it has a slope rating of 131. The course opened in 1967.

The Claw received loads of votes on our Facebook page.
Facebook fan quotes:

"USF. Gotta have everything in your game working to post a good score." -- Javier Plansencia

"Definitely The Claw at South Florida. Hit it straight, hit it long! Yeah!" -- Chad Vanwinkle

1. The Ohio State University Scarlet Course, Columbus, Ohio

This was the overwhelming favorite of all the courses that received votes.

The Scarlet course is rated as one of the top collegiate courses in the nation. Dr. Alister MacKenzie, a world-renowned golf course architect, submitted the original routing plans to L.W. St. John on January 6, 1931, and construction of the Scarlet course was overseen by famed architect Perry Maxwell. The Scarlet was completed in 1938 and the Gray was finished later in 1940.

In the 1930's, only a handful of universities had golf facilities and most of those were eastern schools. Building two golf courses when the country was in the middle of the Great Depression was quite an accomplishment. The labor for the construction of the Golf Course was provided under a government subsidized program known as the Works Progress Administration, a program designed to create jobs during the depression. Few schools can boast the proud association The Ohio State University has enjoyed with the game of golf. With the many outstanding players and professionals spawned at this great facility, the name Ohio State has become synonymous with collegiate golf.

In 1941, Ohio State made history when it hosted the first ever women's collegiate golf championship on the Scarlet course. In 1982, Ohio State hosted the final Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) Division I National Championship. In 1991, Ohio State hosted the NCAA Women's Championship, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the national tournament for women on the course on which it was conceived. The women's program later went on to host the 1997 and 2006 tournaments as well. The Scarlet Course has also played host to 10 men's National Championships. Over the years the Ohio State Scarlet course has been the site of several U.S. Open qualifiers, U.S. Amateur qualifiers and the 1977 USGA Junior Championship.

In 2005 and 2006, the Scarlet Course underwent a major restoration project overseen by former Buckeye legend Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus concentrated on restoring the course to the way Alister MacKenzie originally intended it to play. The bunkers were redesigned to appear more like the classic MacKenzie designs at his numerous other courses. The course was also lengthened to play more than 7,400 yards and the par was changed to 71. The driving range was also enlarged and a short-game practice area was built for both of the varsity golf teams as well as another one for the members of the club.

Facebook fan quotes:

"Ohio state, the Scarlet Course was not very nice till Nicklaus re-designed it, now they have a Nationwide Tour event there, plus the Big Ten tournament." -- Nick McCarty

"Although I hate to admit it, hole for hole the Scarlet at Ohio State is one of the toughest. Former Collegiate Coach." -- Todd Brunsink

"Without a doubt, the Scarlet course at Ohio State. It's a long course with a premium on accuracy - a great equalizer among all playing styles." -- Eric Majewski

"Ohio State's scarlet course for sure has to be number 1. Thanks to Jack Nicklaus. Students play for cheap too. O H - I O!" -- Eric Thielsen

"I live in Columbus but I hate OSU (the teams at least). Unfortunately, I have to vote for their golf course. As a PGA Professional, I have been lucky enough to play several of the ones mentioned and OSU Scarlet is about as good as it gets. They held a Nationwide Tour event in the past. It was revised a couple years ago and at 7,400 yards will beat your brains in for 18 holes." -- Pat Bernot

"Yep. Live in Ohio, not much of an OSU fan, but Scarlet is tremendous." -- Nathan Combs Editor's note: Course information was gathered from each respective course's Web site.


Comments

Keller90

How in the name of Arnold Palmer could you leave out the Alistair McKenzie built course on the University of Michigan campus. Not only is it a wonderfully diverse but fair challenge but it is also one of the greatest tail gaiting locations in the history of college football...across the street from the Big House. Shame on you...PGA...Mr. McKenzie is still rolling over in his grave!

Michael Keller