Going to a Big Ten football game in the fall is a religious experience for some. But instead of tailgating in the parking lot next to the RV all weekend, why not get in a few rounds of golf? There'll be time enough to celebrate after the big game. Provided the breaks don't beat the boys.
In Madison, Wis., home to the University of Wisconsin, your first choice should be the school's home course -- ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ University Ridge. It's a tough tee time during home-game weekends, but the Robert Trent Jones Jr. parkland course is a beauty routed on rolling terrain through the woods of southern Wisconsin. (Tip: Several holes play a club longer than the posted yardage.)
Also near town are ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ Hawks Landing and ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ The Oaks. Hawks, not as scenic as University but still a good layout, is semi-private (bad news) but does allow limited public play, and tee times can be booked two weeks in advance (good news). The Oaks is only a few years old and is one of the best values in the area. Built on farmland, the fairways are fairly open so you can bomb away with the driver.
If you're having trouble getting tee times near town, head an hour northwest on I-90/94 and play ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ Trappers Turn. Located in the Wisconsin Dells region, the course was designed by two-time U.S. Open champ Andy North and Roger Packard and has 27 holes routed through dense woods.
Can't make it to the area until the spring? Then check out the Dells' new Wild Rock Golf Club, which will open in May. The 7,411-yard course, designed by Dana Fry and Mike Hurdzan, is part of the Wilderness Resort. Until then, nine holes from the original Woods Course are open for play.