What makes a golf course great? Is it a layout that can challenge a scratch golfer, but still let a casual player enjoy it as well? Is it strictly based on the condition of the tees, greens and everything in between? Or, do cost and pace of play have major roles in determining your favorite retreat?
Weâ??ve highlighted a few of our favorite courses located throughout the South, all of which are open to the public, well manicured, and have greens fees that will still allow you to enjoy a good skins game or some casino time after. We did include a couple that might stretch your budget, but theyâ??re truly excellent courses that warrant the higher expense. There are hundreds of fabulous courses and clubs located in the South, and unfortunately we couldnâ??t include them all, but here are some awesome locations to check out when you need a links fix.
Listed in no particular order, each course overview includes the cost, yardage from the back tees, rating and slope, as well as the contact info to book tee times or connect with the pro shop. We hope you enjoy our recommendationsâ?¦ Fore!
THE PETE DYE COURSE @French Lick
French Lick Resort, French Lick, IN
FrenchLick.com | 888.936.9360
Play: $350 + $30 forecaddie per player; Back Tees: 8,102 yards
Your wallet may take a bigger hit when you play this course, but itâ??s well worth it! Etched into the hilltops behind French Lick Resort, this Pete Dye-designed masterpiece sits on one of Indianaâ??s highest elevation points, creating amazing views as far as the eye can see. The narrow fairways, three man-made lakes, ever-changing bunkers and intense terrain make this 8,100-yard layout all you can imagine, and more. Words simply donâ??t do this breathtaking course justice. Forecaddies are mandatory, as well as lodging at the resort. Be sure to treat yourself to this beauty!
BELTERRA GOLF CLUB
Belterra Casino Resort, Vevay, IN
BelterraCasino.com | 812.427.7783
Back Tees: 6,925 yards
Say good-bye to reality and hello to golf and gambling bliss! A Tom Fazio-designed course, the greens at Belterra have an impeccable layout. Once completely flat farmland, Fazioâ??s course called for elevation changes of almost 100 feet and the addition of lakes and trees to create what has to be one of his marquee projects. Itâ??s no wonder heâ??s one of the top golf course designers in the world. The course offers a well-rounded scope of holes, where approach shots are crucial as many greens are heavily guarded by sand traps and water among other obstacles. And with the pro shop located on the property, you can reach the range and first tee from your room in just minutes. While the course will give you all you want from the back tees, itâ??s quite manageable and fun from the shorter tees, and always in
COVERED BRIDGE GOLF COURSE
FuzzyGolf.com | 812.246.8880
Back Tees: 6,832 yards
Covered Bridge Golf Club is Fuzzy Zoellerâ??s home golf course and one of Kentuckianaâ??s finest public golf facilities. Co-designed by Fuzzy Zoeller and Clyde Johnson, each hole of Covered Bridge has been placed to highlight the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. The layout is nestled in the foothills of Southern Indianaâ??s Floyd Knobs and provides challenging shots over and around five lakes, a creek, forest area and other obstacles. The Zoysia fairways give a perfect lie and the undulating greens provide true rolls on your putts. And, you never know when Fuzzy will pop into the club to say hello since he lives just a few minutes away!
BrickyardCrossing.com | 317.492.6417
Back Tees: 7,180 yards
Just because four of the holes are located in the infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, doesnâ??t mean this layout is a crowded tourist attraction. By far one of the most unique courses on this list, Pete Dye designed this beautiful golf course to challenge any level of golfer. And, letâ??s not forget about the fact that holes 7, 8, 9 and 10 are located inside one of the most famous racetracks in the world â?? talk about cool!
THE PRESERVE GOLF CLUB
PreserveGC.com | 228.386.2500
Back Tees: 6,774 yards
Rating/Slope: 72.6 / 138
Whether youâ??re enjoying the beauty of the mossy, majestic oaks throughout the course, or the pine-lined fairways leading to the rolling greens, The Preserve continues to exceed expectations. Serving as the home course for The Palace Casino Resort in Biloxi, this Jerry Pate design lies within an 1800-acre nature preserve, giving golfers the feeling of a safari adventure. You owe it to yourself to make this part of your trip!
KIVA DUNES GOLF COURSE
Gulf Shores, Alabama
KivaDunes.com | 888.833.5482
Back Tees: 7,092 yards
If youâ??ve ever spent any time around the Alabama Gulf Coast, thereâ??s a good chance youâ??ve heard of the Kiva Dunes Golf Course. Rated the top course in the state, Kiva Dunes is a definite must-play, and for under $100, how can you possibly resist? Situated just a pitching wedge away from the beach, thereâ??s always a nice breeze coming off the water, and as you would expect from a ocean front community, thereâ??s no shortage of sand!
FALLEN OAK GOLF COURSE
FallenOak.com | 877.805.4657
Play: $200 (w/ room at Beau Rivage)Back tees: 7,487 yards
When a golf masterpiece is planned to accentuate thousand-year-old oak trees, you know you are in for a treat. An added amenity of the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, guests of the resort enter a long, gated driveway and are greeted by a Southern-style clubhouse upon arrival. Designed by the legendary Tom Fazio, this course is certainly one of his best. In drafting the plans for these greens, he wanted this course to rival Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas, and we think he more than succeeded. The layout provides a remote experience, as you are hidden from sight with ornate shrubbery at every hole and large plants hide your cart when you are on the putting green. Deep bunkers and undulating greens are commonplace, and water features are intertwined throughout the layout. The course is only open to Beau Rivage guests. Even though the cost is on the higher side of our this list, you really canâ??t talk about great golf outings on the Gulf Coast without mentioning Fallen Oak!
CAMP CREEK GOLF COURSE
Panama City, Florida
Campcreekgolfclub.com | 850.231.7600
Back Tees: 7,159 yards
Designed by Tom Fazio, Camp Creek may cost a pretty penny to play, but itâ??s well worth the extra expense! Offering guests a wide variety of hole layouts, from tight and target oriented, to wider and ready for the gripper and ripper, the lush wetlands will keep you on your toes when selecting clubs. With five sets of tees, any golfer will feel comfortable escaping from the beach for a while to enjoy a round on this course.
BLOODY POINT GOLF CLUB
Daufuskie Island, South Carolina
Bloody-Point.com | 1.843.341.5566
Back Tees: 6,900 yards
Located on Daufuskie Island, Bloody Point is one of three courses on the island. And for under $100, you really canâ??t go wrong. Water taxis range from $50-75 per person for an approximate 40-minute ride to the island, but once youâ??re there, youâ??re in a golferâ??s paradise! Be careful though, with strategically placed wetlands throughout the property, this is a shot makerâ??s course that doesn’t allow for much error on either side of the fairways or greens. The course is under new ownership and after being closed for few years, there is a lot of anticipation to it becoming a regional leader!
HARBOUR TOWN GOLF LINKS
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Seapines.com | 1.843.363.8385
(Depending on the season)
Back Tees: 7,101 yards
A plantation on Hilton Head Island, Sea Pines is a place where you can find everything from fishing charters and great seafood, to a guy who sings under an old oak tree each night, serenading passersby. Itâ??s also home to one of the most famous golf courses in the world, Harbour Town Golf Links. Playing this Pete Dye-designed beauty comes at a higher price, but once youâ??re there youâ??ll understand all the hype, with its picturesque landscaping and exciting, yet challenging, holes. The PGA Tour has a regular stop here with the RBC Heritage, where the winner receives a red plaid jacket. The 18th hole is the courseâ??s signature hole, with the Calibogue Sound lining the left side of the fairway and the iconic red and white lighthouse hovering behind the small target green. The 472-yard par-4 is the number two handicap hole on the course, but rest assured, youâ??re hitting your drive to one of the widest fairways on the PGA Tour at almost ninety yards wide!
PURGATORY GOLF CLUB
PurgatoryGolf.com | 317.776.4653
Back Tees: 7,754
Yes, you read correctly. This monster stretches almost 8,000 yards from the tips and will have you begging for mercy by the end of your round. With a well-manicured layout and narrow fairways lined with thick rough leading to unforgiving heather, this layout will test every shot in your bag. But, when you are finished, you will feel a sense of pride as you have just conquered one of the longest courses in the country. Enjoy the ride!
BY G. DOUGLAS DREISBACH