“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date” for two groups of people: Fans of William Shakespeare’s sonnets, and the thousands of golfers who live in the half of North America that falls victim to winter. The impending doom of snow-covered greens drives devoted players to squeeze every last hole out of the autumnal chill.
The following collection of golf hot spots includes both courses in cooler climates fighting off the falling leaves until winter’s zero hour, as well as tropical courses keeping the fairways open as they begin to cool from sweltering, humid summers. Regardless, there is prime golf to be played in the autumn, so bring a sweater.
Sandals Emerald Bay – Great Exuma, Bahamas: Greg Norman has created plenty of beautiful golf courses over his design career. For example, any player traveling to Cabo San Lucas should make a point of visiting the new 18 holes at Rancho San Lucas. Still, Norman brought a Pebble Beach vibe to the Bahamas with his track at Sandals Emerald Bay Great Exuma. With six holes on the back nine running along the Atlantic, golfers tee up only after they take in views of wind-swept turquoise surf.
For a quick tip, make your tee time for mid- or late afternoon when the sticky temperatures cool a few degrees. It makes for a more comfortable round of beautiful golf finished off with a stunning sunset.
The Lower Course at Baltusrol Golf Club – Springfield, N.J.: Recently reopened after renovations enabled by the Covid-19 slowdown, the famed Lower Course at Baltusrol Golf Club will welcome players once again as the leaves tumble. The only golf club to host a U.S. Open and Women’s U.S. Open on two different courses, Baltusrol hosted at least nine Major Championships during its existence, depending on how you count through the decades. You need to be a member or a guest to tee it up, so make friends.
The Baths of Blackwolf Run – Kohler, Wis.: Newly opened to entertain the world’s traveling golf fans just in time for the arrival of this autumn’s 2021 Ryder Cup at nearby Whistling Straits, The Baths of Blackwolf Run is more than just a quick, 10-hole, par three set that provides an “homage to KohlerCo. ’s 128-year history of bathing design excellence”—if we can forgive a little marketing clumsiness. Co-designed by Herb Kohler himself, the links-style Baths keeps the distance below 180 yards and threatens a frequent soak for your Pro V1s.
Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campos – Dominican Republic: Pete Dye designed some of the most famous golf courses in the world, so when chose his Teeth of the Dog as a final resting place, you know he thought it was special. After a long Covid slowdown, the Teeth are open and sharp now. The course is known for seven holes overlooking the churning Caribbean Sea. Be sure to stop and pay respect to Dye as his ashes were dispersed into a pot bunker on #8.
Players can stay at the Casa de Campos Resort with complete golf packages or at the new Live Aqua property at Punta Cana just a manageable drive away across the island.
Nassau Country Club – Glen Cove, N.Y.: Tucked away east of Queens on the friendly, green confines of Long Island since 1896, the Nassau Country Club just completed a Fazio Design renovation. The work restored greens to a more historically-accurate layout and moved bunkers to a challenging modern distance from the tees. The 21st-century players with cutting-edge equipment who could blast it over the old bunkers on the fly will now find those sand traps very much back in play.
The Arthur Hills Course at Boyne Highlands – Harbor Springs, Mich.: An upper-Michigan ski resort for half the year, Boyne Highlands becomes a golfer’s wonderland when the sun decides to shine just outside the resort town of Petoskey. The Highlands offer five courses of the Michigan 10 – a set of notable courses that take advantage of the lake country’s natural beauty.
Come autumn, as fall color grips the region, the finest golf experience of the Michigan 10 is the Arthur Hills Course. Named for the legendary course designer, the Hills is built amidst a dense forest and constructed to exist in peace with the natural landscape. As the weather cools, tree-lined holes become oil paintings as the foliage goes red, orange, and yellow. Players are advised to keep the cell phone camera handy.