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  • Writer's pictureDooner

Mapping The College Golf Landscape: Your Guide to Competitive & Recreational Golf On Campus

Updated: Jun 10

Whether you're a teenager about to embark on the best (four?) years of your life, an aspiring collegiate golfer, or you'd like a mulligan on your whole college experience, we've got the tool for you! If you'd be thinking of working on your game while you're in school, it would be a pretty good idea to look for a college that has its own golf course!

virginia tech, college golf course, radford, pete dye, new river, river course, hokies
The Pete Dye River Course at Virginia Tech - widely considered one of the finest college courses in the country!

Good thing for you... There's a lot of choices out there! We've discovered more than 100 colleges have at least one golf course. The options are aplenty, all the way from par-3 and executive courses to elite thirty-six championship facilities, complete with Professional Golf Management (PGM) programs to keep them looking like a [semester's worth of full-boat tuition payments coming through the bursar's office]!


We set out to capture those courses on an interactive map. Then we discovered and were subsequently sucked down the rabbit hole of college golf practice facilities. My goodness!!! The stuff that's out there is absolutely astounding! So much we've added more than 150 different practice ranges, indoor facilities or short game areas - many of which are housed right on campus!


We invite you to take a look for yourself! We highly recommend using a desktop/laptop/tablet to navigate this map! If you're on a mobile phone, hop down to the bottom of the page to find a more mobile friendly version of this same map.

MAP KEY

Orange Flag = Golf Course at a Division 1 School Light Blue Golfer = Division 1 Team Facility

Red Flag = Golf Course at a School from D2, D3, NAIA or JUCO Royal Blue Golfer = D2, D3, NAIA or JUCO Team Facility Maroon Icons = College has PGM Program Navy Blue Icons = Announced or Under Construction Open Book = no course or facility, but it's on there for a reason!


NOTE: This map is limited by the width of the page in which we're allowed to populate. If you really want to follow the White Rabbit, click the broken rectangle in the upper right corner of the map below to kick out to Google Maps!


THE COURSES


Just like the rest of our beloved great green pastures, not all college golf courses are created equally. There are generally two main types of college courses you'll encounter in your search. True, some courses may could fall into both categories, but more often than not you can place it in one of these two classifications:


  • The Campus Course - These golf courses are firmly embedded within or directly adjacent to the campus proper and are an essential part of the landscape and ambiance of the school. You won't find many of these that are new builds, as most of them have been around for decades, some since (or relatively soon after) the college was founded. While you'll perhaps find an 18-hole course here or there, a lot of these are of the 9-hole variety, either by initial intent or due to loss of a nine for campus expansion.

emory & henry, college, campus, golf course, southwest virginia
Lynch Links - a 9-hole executive course on the campus of Emory & Henry in Southwest Virginia. FREE to students, faculty & staff!

Examples of the traditional campus course would include quaint, 9-hole tracks at St. Bonaventure (NY), Emory & Henry (VA) and The College of Wooster (OH). Larger universities have them too. Virginia Tech has a 9-hole campus loop on the northwest end of campus. It used to be an 18-hole layout, but half of it was closed years ago for construction of an on-campus hotel and conference center. Fear not - you'll soon find VT students have it good (spoiler)!


VT, Virginia Tech, Hokies, campus, golf course, college golf, Lane Stadium, Blacksburg
In winter, a trained eye can spot the Battlement atop Lane Stadium on Virginia Tech's Campus Course

Unfortunately for us golfers, the campus courses are the most at-risk for closure. Most of them are not revenue positive enterprises and is most likely the most obvious target for new development/campus expansion. Thankfully, VT kept a portion of the course alive.


Others, like St. John Fisher College and Hamilton College in Upstate New York, have repurposed their former golf courses into athletic fields for other sports. Delta State (MS) was forced to permanently close their campus course during COVID due to budget constraints. Winthrop University's Golf Course is 'temporarily closed' while decided if their 9-hole campus course would be better suited for other purposes.


It's not just the courses at small schools that are at risk either. Even the Ivy League can't dodge it, as Dartmouth College closed Hanover Country Club in 2020. The historic 18-hole campus course traced its roots back to the 1890s!


Some places just won't let the game pass them by, however! Wellesley College, an all women's school outside of Boston, got into the golf business in 1890s and has kept the 9-hole Nehoiden Golf Club (completed around 1900) a part of their fabric ever since!


  • The Championship Course - These courses were built as athletic fields for the university's golf teams. Most are not contiguous with the main campus, such as the famed Yale Golf Course, widely considered to be the best college course in America. The celebrated C.B. McDonald/Seth Raynor design has finally been given the new life it needed and is expected to break ground on their long-anticipated restoration (speared by Gil Hanse) in early 2024 (reopening in Spring 2026). While Yale's course sits a few miles off campus on the outskirts of town, others have championship courses that encroach on parts of their respective campus. The University of Michigan Golf Course was designed by Alister MacKenzie in 1936 and was built across the street from 'The Big House'. While now part of the athletics campus on the south side of Ann Arbor, the main academic campus sits a mile or two to the north, depending on where you are on the course. You could argue it belongs to the Campus Course silo, but it undoubtedly was built for competition.

U of M, michigan, alister mackenzie, golf course, campus
The scoreboard at Michigan Stadium peeks out from over the hill overlooking Alister MacKenzie's University of Michigan GC.

More contemporary examples of these courses can be found at Universities of Arkansas, Louisville, Washington or Wisconsin, among many others.


The term "Two-a-Days" is synonymous with the multiple daily sessions that preseason football practice brings with it. It appears - on a few campuses at least - morning and afternoon sessions aren't exclusive to football anymore! In the Big Ten alone, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue all boast two championship courses! The University of Illinois takes it to a whole new level with 54 holes to choose from if you fall in the correct bucket (not to mention one of the best team facilities in the country!).


Double dippers aren't just in the B1G though. The Vanderbilt Legends boasts two 18-hole loops as well as a 9-hole short course. SEC brethren Kentucky, LSU & Texas A&M claim two big courses each, while Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Virginia have a championship and a short offering. Virginia Tech, Notre Dame & the University of New Mexico each have a championship course off campus and a 9-hole loop on campus.


If you thought you have to be a Power 5 school or a state-university to have a couple courses, you might be surprised to learn that Oakland University in suburban Detroit owns 36 holes, a 3-hole short course and the OU Golf & Learning Center.


Through our research, we've discovered a couple other small categories that should be considered, just to make sure we're not overlooking anything...

  • The Gift Course - This is a golf course or club, typically but not always near a college campus that has been donated (by a family or company) to a school through their Foundation. Unlike the saying with the horse, you should definitely look a gift course in the mouth! You might be surprised to learn this happens at every kind, size and stature of school from a 2-year community college and NAIA, all the way up through Division I.

Immergrun, golf course, st francis university, campus golf
Charles Schwab's gift to St. Francis University (photo: alwaystimefor9.com)

Some these charitable contributions were made a long time ago, but the recent trend is on the upswing.


Immergrun GC at St. Francis (PA) University, which dates its 9-hole Donald Ross design back to 1917, was built on the summer estate of St. Francis Alumnus Charles Schwab (Yes, that Charles Schwab). After his passing, he gifted his 44-room house to the church and the course to the university. D-I SFU has run it ever since.


The University of Illinois has received arguably the nicest course ever gifted to a school. The former Stone Crest Golf Club was donated by the Atkins Family and subsequently renamed the Atkins GC at the University of Illinois. When combined the practice facility they've built for the teams, you'll see why the Fighting Illini have it so good for golf!

Division II athletics powerhouse Wingate (NC) University has been the recipient of multiple course gifts in the Charlotte area. The first, Larkin GC (formerly Fox Den GC) in Statesville, was accepted, stewarded and eventually resold. It's location more than an hour from campus didn't make it an ideal fit for team use or university functions. Stonebridge GC however, just outside of Monroe, NC, made for a perfect fit. It's one of the closest courses to campus (about 20 minutes), ideally suited for both the aforementioned uses.

stonebridge, golf course, wingate university, college golf
Stonebridge Golf Club in Waxhaw, NC - a gift to Wingate University.

Denison University (OH), a Division III institution just east of Columbus, was the recent beneficiary of a gift course - a 1924 Donald Ross course less than a par-5 away from campus! The Denison Club at Granville will now make a great recruiting tool and potential revenue stream from the University.


And when we said it happens at all levels of size and stature, we meant it! NAIA member Point University (AL), as well as JUCOs like Muskegon CC (MI), Wor-Wic CC (MD) and Buena Vista University (TX) all now can join Phi Golfa Lotta.


  • The Practice Course - These have become more prevalent as more colleges build high-end practice facilities for their teams. Chances are good that - unless you're a member of their golf teams - you're not going to ever play these. We did set some rules for this though, in that it has to have a defined routing of at least three holes (this is what qualifies the Jimmie Austin Short Course at Oklahoma and the 3-hole loop at Tennessee's Day Practice Facility). Practice Courses also exist at Georgia Tech, UT-Chattanooga, Troy University and Oregon State. Mary Hardin-Baylor (D3) has a 4-hole short course under construction in Texas while Pepperdine is about to put everyone to shame with its Pacific Ocean clifftop facility that invokes visions of Torrey Pines.


It's worth mentioning that the 'defined routing rule' would rule out places like Iowa State, Washington and Clemson that - while wildly imaginative in their design and purpose - lack a defined routing that could count it as a course. Is it subjective or nitpicky? Sure it is.


But... For a course to count in our tally towards The Golf Crusade's goal of playing 1000 courses, that's a must have. We're sticking to our guns on that one. That said, we'd love to spend a couple hours at Iowa State's golf version of Field of Dreams. They have multiple fairways and nine target greens, inspired by many five different architectural styles their teams may encounter during competition (FYI - they even have a Biarritz!). Check it out for yourself:

Iowa State, Golf, Keith Foster, Practice facility, college golf
Architect Keith Foster designed this sprawling golf practice fantasy land (not a course) at Iowa State University (Google Earth).

Now, if any of those places can produce a scorecard or provide a defined routing (or even invite us over to hit a few balls one day down the line?), we'll happily update the map!


If there was one practice course we'd put about all others, it would be one we built a golf trip around in an effort to see it ourselves!


USC Aiken, a perennial power from the D2 ranks, has a course/facility that would make most PGA Tour pros green with envy. The Chalkmine is a 9-hole short course designed by Jim McNair (the man behind Aiken Golf Club's success). It exists solely for the use of the USC Aiken Golf Team and The First Tee. The course magically blends into the abandoned mining site as if the course was the what they mining all along.


USC Aiken, Aiken, Jim McNair, short course, par 3, The First Tee
The Chalkmine - USC Aiken's Practice Facility & 9-hole Short Course

Innovative. Creative. Functional. Challenging. Exceptional.


We were incredibly fortunate to get a tour of this incredible facility on our recent trip to Aiken. We were blown away. See for yourself how much of each of those aforementioned attributes The Chalkmine exudes (and then some!)...



We were so impressed by The Chalkmine, we had BMAC speed golf a round while Dooner flew the drone behind him capturing every shot. Here's the sped up result in a ninety second tour of Jim McNair's magical golf playground (be sure to set the video quality to 1080p if it defaults you to something less!):



The Aiken region itself - situated less than a half hour from Augusta National - has rapidly become a hotbed of golf course architectural brilliance (Palmetto GC, Sage Valley, Aiken have been there awhile, but Old Barnwell, The Tree Farm and the recently announced 21 Club have the golf nerds circling like vultures). The more places golf can create like The Chalkmine, the better place it will be for all of us!


Chalkmine, Aiken, USC Aiken, Golf course, college golf, the first tee
The Chalkmine's bio from our Interactive College Golf Course & Practice Facilities Map

NOTE: One thing we did not do is list or pin every school's 'home course' that each uses for team practice or competition. That just seemed like too tall a task and didn't want to muddy the waters. After all, this is solely about what a each school owns or controls.

 

TEAM PRACTICE FACILITIES


When you start diving into the practice facilities, the first thing we noticed was the innovation and creativity was off the charts! The resources differ WILDLY between the haves and have nots, but in this game just having is winning. Now, that's not to say there isn't a huge difference between taking an old racquetball court, laying down some artificial turf for a putting green, then throwing a hitting net or even a simulator up on the end of it versus a stand-alone building with locker rooms, Trackman tech, indoor/outdoor hitting areas, a 400-yard range and a practice course.


You saw the photo from Iowa State above, right?


We try not to get into the habit of 'ranking stuff'. Lord knows enough people do that already. Our aim is simply to make you aware of the existence of these options and to highlight some incredible ingenuity, be it on the course or in these facilities.


We can give you a few to search out in the map and dive a little deeper for photos. Most of the icons are linked to Google Maps, so photos 'should' display within the map for you (although keep in mind, they're user submitted and usually with a cell phone camera).


Furman, college golf, practice facility, brad faxon, travellers rest, sc
Furman's Davis & Faxon Training Facility at the on campus Furman Golf Course

Simply click on the main photo then scroll through them. A friendly reminder that this feature is difficult on mobile devices and better experienced through a larger screen/format.


Please note that in most cases, if a college had a golf course - we typically only marked it on the map with a flag icon (only exception being if the practice facility and course were at different locations, i.e. Iowa State, Georgia Southern, Mississippi State, etc.). Click on an icon and it will tell you which amenities each college has.


Arizona State Ball State Bowling Green Chattanooga Clemson ETSU Furman Georgia Southern Georgia Tech Henderson State Illinois Iowa State Liberty Mississippi State Missouri Oklahoma Palm Beach State San Diego Stanford Stetson SMU Tennessee Utah Xavier


There are dozens more - explore them all! It wouldn't be a waste of time - we thoroughly enjoyed learning about all that's out there!


Tennessee River, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, college golf, practice, course
An aerial look at Tennessee's Day Practice Facility & Practice Course in dormancy

If you find more, or have photos you'd like to submit of any facility, please use the contact us form below and/or send us an email to thegolfcrusade@gmail.com.


We know there are more out there - help us improve this tool! We'll continue mining the landscape until we've got them all!


We hope you enjoy the result as much as we did putting it together!


Sincerely Fores,

Your Golf Crusade


Number of Colleges with Golf Courses by State 9 - Michigan, New York

7 - North Carolina, Indiana

6 - South Carolina, Georgia, Texas

5 - Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi

4 - MA, MD, FL, IA, IL, OH, NM

3 - PA, LA, MO, CO

2 - CT, NJ, KS, MT, OK, WI, WA, CA

1 - AR, MN, ND, ID, VT, WY, AZ, OR (BC & ON in Canada)

0 - RI, ME, NH, DE, WV, SD, NE, UT, NV, AK, HI


U of M, michigan golf course, alister mackenzie, college golf, golf course, campus
Wolverine Tower in the background on the University of Michigan Golf Course

Rutgers, college golf, UMDNJ, busch campus, Piscataway, NJ
Sunset on the Rutgers Golf Course in Piscataway, NJ.

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