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Fall Perfect

Best places to take your summer-honed game

Fall Perfect

Best places to take your summer-honed game

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our game is in great shape after playing all summer, the air is crisp and dry and happy to let your ball fly, the summer heat is gone and winter is yet to come: can we all agree that autumn golf is the best golf? If there’s any doubt, visit one of the following—and feel free to pack a sweater.

Bluejack National (above)

Montgomery, TX

Instantly famous in 2016 as Tiger Woods’ first U.S. golf course design to open, Bluejack National has earned a reputation as one of Texas’ best. As good as it is, it’s tough to enjoy during the height of summer, when Texas heats up hotter than a blow-torched ghost pepper. In fall, those fortunate enough to live in one of the lovely homesites at Bluejack enjoy days in the 70s and low 80s, and golfers enjoy them doubly. Beautiful routes through pines and hills, endless options around the greens, and wide fairways that offer fun for everyone make this one of our favorite places to play, especially after Labor Day.

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Palmetto Dunes

Hilton Head Island, SC

We could have chosen any of the 23 courses on Hilton Head Island, which together comprise an American golf paradise, but Palmetto Dunes is especially close to Kingdom’s heart. There are courses from Arthur Hills, Robert Trent Jones and George Fazio, a TOPTRACER range, and a wealth of dining and other activities here, making the resort a “must play” for anyone in the area. And in autumn, the summer crowds and summer heat both dissipate, making for clear cool skies and beaches, and epic golf. This October 27–30, some of that will be enjoyed at the 2022 Kingdom Cup—a weekend of great golf, food and friends to benefit Folds of Honor Foundation. Feel free to join us, and to enjoy one of fall’s best golf destinations.

To find out more about the Kingdom Cup, visit kingdom.golf/cup

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Saratoga National Golf Club

Saratoga Springs, NY

We’re not fans of the term “leaf peepers,” but we’re happy to say that we enjoy seeing the autumn colors come in along the highways in New York State. On any windows-down/eyes-wide-open visit to the area, Saratoga National Golf Club is a fantastic autumn stop that allows us to indulge a love of the changing season and a love of golf. It feels like the kind of early 20th century track you find nestled throughout the Northeast, but in fact the Roger Rulewich design only opened in June of 2001. With great service and a layout that makes reassuring use of the forests and water features, this is a beautiful place to spend a crisp autumn day.

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Firestone Country Club

Akron, Ohio

Home to the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Dow Finsterwald, Harold Varner III, Renee Powell, Tom Weiskopf and many, many other top golfers, Ohio can be brutally hot in summer and teeth-rattlingly cold in winter. Thank goodness for autumn, when the Buckeye State is blanketed in cool sunny days, red and gold leaves, and picture-perfect golf as well. There’s no better place to enjoy that than Firestone Country Club, the storied host of numerous PGA Championships, PGA tournaments and other top competitions. Try to recreate a bit of Nicklaus magic on the South Course’s “Monster” No.16, test your targeting ability on the RTJ Sr.-designed North Course, or hone your links game on the links-style Fazio Course, home to the Ohio Senior Open. Each provides an unforgettable experience to complement the fine hospitality, accommodations and dining you’ll enjoy off course.

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Big Cedar Lodge

Ridgedale, Missouri

When Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris does something, he does it right—and he does it big. No place is that better on display than at his Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri, where golf courses designed by Tiger Woods; Jack Nicklaus; Arnold Palmer; Tom Watson; Gary Player; Tom Fazio; and Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw join simply stunning natural beauty, fishing and top accommodations. This is one of America’s best getaways, with friendly staff and proper hospitality and more to do than one could fit into a single visit. In fall Big Cedar is particularly lovely, with a landscape popping with color: wild grasses and flowers and vibrantly patterned trees blanket the rolling Ozarks, with postcard-perfect views at every turn. Really, it must be seen to be believed, and that includes the Payne’s Valley course designed by Tiger Woods. Much has been made of the course and its surprise No.19—an “extra” par 3 at the base of a giant limestone rock wall, complete with dramatic waterfalls — but no written words can truly capture the visual impact it makes. Same goes for the Player-designed Mountaintop Course, which winds through rock formations for an unforgettable 13 holes.

With a selection of top-quality restaurants on site, plus lakeside cabins and other beautiful accommodations available, Big Cedar Lodge is a family-friendly and golf-buddy-friendly destination not to be missed—in autumn or any other time of year.

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Edgewood

Lake Tahoe, CA

The stunning cerulean waters of Lake Tahoe reflecting a cool sky, snow-capped mountains on the not-so-distant horizon, and a verdant  golf course gilding the edge of the lake—what could be better? The Edgewood Tahoe Resort opens in May and closes when the ski crowd starts eyeing the place. In-between there are ample opportunities for remarkable days on course, and we submit that they’re even better in the late season, when the colors are sharper, the air is more crisp and the joys of wearing layers and indulging in late-night cocktails by an outdoor fire pit with friends make all the sense in the world. Designed by George Fazio in 1968 and later renovated by his nephew Tom, Edgewood has hosted the 1980 USGA U.S. Public Links Championship and the 1985 U.S. Senior Open Championship. It’s home to the American Century Championship—and to one of America’s most scenic rounds of golf.

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Wild Dunes Resort

charleston, sc

One of America’s most classic cities might best be explored from the “home base” of Wild Dunes Resort, an oceanfront paradise with a refreshing spa, great restaurants and, compellingly for us, 36 holes of Tom Fazio-designed golf. The golf here is transportive in that both the Links Course (Fazio’s first design and still one of his favorites) and the Harbor Course (with its myriad water features) are timeless; one could imagine them in a different era—were it not for the modern facilities and top-end amenities of the contemporary resort. Family friendly, golf trip-friendly and perfectly equipped for the best sorts of visits, we count this among our favorite fall escapes.

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Blackwolf Run

Kohler, Wisconsin

Part of The American Club and sister course to the more famous Whistling Straits, Blackwolf Run is a forested gem with two lauded courses and a world of experiences to present, usually until nearly November, when the property shutters for winter. Those experiences take on a different emotional cast in fall, when the Wisconsin weather begins to cool, the leaves change and the game acquires a more literary tone, perhaps. Sweaters and caps during crisp fall days, whiskeys and fireside conversations in the chilled nights; a special place any time of year, The American Club is even more so in autumn, and it’s an experience that shouldn’t be missed.

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Wynn Golf Club

Las Vegas, NV

With a recent Tom Fazio refresh, the impeccable accommodations of its luxury home resort and its status as the only top-quality championship course on the Las Vegas Strip, the Wynn Golf Club is a no-brainer for “must play” while visiting Nevada’s most famous city. In fall, however, it takes on extra appeal when temperatures dip into the 70s and a full round is transformed from a rather sweltering affair into a few hours of bliss. There’s been golf on the site since it was the old Desert Inn Golf Club. Wynn bought the real estate in 2000 and a Fazio-designed course opened in 2005. That took a pause in 2017 but reopened in 2020—just in time for the pandemic. With that (hopefully) on the wain, the club is open and playing like a new experience, one that’s even better with an autumn sunset.

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The Desert

ays. Fall is the perfect season for golf, and perhaps especially in the Palm Springs area. Summer temperatures in the desert can crest 120˚F, making rounds possible only in the early morning or end of day, and sometimes not at all. But when summer ends and autumn arrives, the region transforms into one of the greatest golf destinations on earth, with a wide selection of courses, festive dining and immensely pleasant days.

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Mission Hills Country Club

The host of the LPGA’s ANA Inspiration is a Coachella Valley oasis, complete with world-class golf, a wonderful array of country club sports experiences, social activities and views of the incredible surrounding mountains. Members here enjoy all of that and more, especially in fall when the desert climate approaches perfection. The season makes the on-site array of great courses even more compelling, with the Arnold Palmer Signature Course, Dinah Shore Tournament Course and Pete Dye Challenge Course, each of which offers its own delights and challenges.

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Indian Wells Country Club

With a rich history and an incredible menu of modern-day amenities and activities, this desert club really comes alive after summer’s end. The original home of the Bob Hope Desert Classic, and a venue that’s seen the likes of Frank Sinatra, Desi Arnaz and others on the tee, keeps golf front and center with 36 holes of play across its Classic Course and Cove Course. Beyond that, there’s an engaging fitness center, bocce, great dining and a desert night sky full of stars to enjoy when it’s cocktail time.

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SilverRock Golf Resort

Designed by Arnold Palmer to sit right up against the Santa Rosa Mountains, this stunning course is the longest in the Coachella Valley, coming in at 7,578 yards off the tips. In fall, the clear skies and bold light make the place come alive with incredible shadows and definition, making the always-good views that much better. Mountain walls come into play on a couple of holes here—and could come into play on the picturesque par 3 No.8, which features a huge rock outcropping as a backdrop to the green.

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Masters that changed golf

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