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The best courses for fall foliage

6th hole, Sugarloaf Golf Club

Evan Schiller

Fall is here and with it a 120-count Crayola box of colors lining every fairway in America. But not every leaf peeper links was created equal, so we compiled 10 of our favorite fall foliage courses from across the country, both for your viewing pleasure and to help you plan your next fall golf trip. Sure, you may lose a few extra balls in the leaves, not to mention the feeling in your toes on an early start, but trust us, the views are worth it.

Scroll down for the complete list of the best courses for fall foliage. We urge you to click through to each individual course page for bonus photography, drone footage and reviews from our course panelists. Plus, you can now leave your own ratings on the courses you’ve played.

Boyne Highlands: Arthur Hills
Brian Walters Photography
Public
Boyne Highlands: Arthur Hills
Harbor Springs, MI
4
38 Panelists
The Arthur Hills course may be the most player-friendly of the four layouts at The Highlands, with forgiving fairways and large greens. That said, there are some demanding shots, including the approaches to several small, elevated greens. There are plenty of elevation changes, including some dramatic downhill tee shots which offer beautiful vistas of the northern Michigan landscape.
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Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech
Public
Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech
Radford, VA, United States
4
49 Panelists
A donation from the Goodwin family in 2003 allowed the financial support to cover a complete redesign by Pete Dye on an existing 18-hole layout along the New River in Radford, Va. The River course earned a fourth-place award from Golf Digest in its Best Remodel rankings of 2006, the highest of any public facility. The course—which is the home to both Virginia Tech and Radford University’s golf teams—has earned the reputation as one of the best collegiate courses in the country.
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Sugarloaf Golf Club
Evan Schiller
Public
Sugarloaf Golf Club
Carrabassett Valley, ME
3.9
17 Panelists
Set in the Carrabassett Valley against the Appalachians, Sugarloaf is a demanding Robert Trent Jones Jr. mountain course. A past member of Golf Digest's 100 Greatest Public list, Sugarloaf is a true ball-striking test with narrow fairways guarded by dense forest and imposing rocks. The greens have significant undulations with numerous shelves, creating a variety of possible pin locations. Sugarloaf's signature holes—the 10th and 11th—offer stunning panoramic views of the Maine wilderness and feature dramatic dropoffs from tee to green. At the par-3 11th—aptly nicknamed "Precipice"—the small, two-tiered green is set 120 feet below the tee box. In the winter months, Sugarloaf is a renowned ski resort, and the trails can be seen from many holes.
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Omni Mount Washington Hotel & Resort
John Sinal
Public
Omni Mount Washington Hotel & Resort
Bretton Woods, NH
3.9
29 Panelists
This turn-of-the-century Donald Ross design sits in an outstanding setting. Despite being the flattest “mountain” course you will ever play, nearly every hole has a view of mountains (in every direction) or the spectacular 19th century mountain resort hotel. The course has many of the classic Ross elements: plateau greens with roll-offs in all directions, optical illusions of greenside bunkers that are actually 30-40 yards in front of greens, bunkers canted to face the direction of play, etc.
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Salish Cliffs Golf Club
Public
Salish Cliffs Golf Club
Shelton, WA
3.8
36 Panelists
A must-play public course in Washington for its scenic views and strong conditioning. Towering trees frame most holes and require a golfer keep their tee shots in play, with little recovery options given off some fairways.
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Treetops Resort: Masterpiece
Public
Treetops Resort: Masterpiece
Gaylord, MI
3.1
40 Panelists
The Masterpiece course is considered the most difficult of the four 18-hole layouts (and one nine-hole course) at Treetops Resort. The scenic northern Michigan layout features plenty of elevation changes as well as deep ravines, water hazards and undulating greens.
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Green Mountain National
Public
Green Mountain National
Killington, VT
3.4
13 Panelists
One of the best public courses in the state shines during the fall when the colors are off the charts. The back nine is routed through the highest points of the property, revealing some incredible vistas. Some shorter par 4s and five par 3s, along with some longer holes and approaches to elevated greens, give Green Mountain National a strong layout variety.
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The Highland Course At Primland
Courtesy of the club
Public
The Highland Course At Primland
Meadows of Dan, VA
The Highland Course at Primland sits atop a mountain plateau overlooking some of the most unusual scenery in America, a deep river valley dotted with tall spirals of rock called the Pinnacles of the Dan River. The course design by veteran British architect Donald Steel is austere in its green contours and bunkering, as if not to overpower the setting. Aided by his then-associates Tom Mackenzie and Martin Ebert (who have since formed their own very successful partnership, Mackenzie & Ebert), Steel routed holes along ridges, over chasms, down valleys and into sideslopes, always offering a safe alternative to every perilous carry. There’s a stretch of three straight holes - 13 through 15 - with no sand, because dense trees and deep gulleys are hazards enough. Primland is Smoky Mountain majesty.
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Sunday River Golf Club
Public
Sunday River Golf Club
Newry, ME, United States
3.8
27 Panelists
Overlooking a valley and set amongst the Appalachians, Sunday River is similar in aesthetics to Sugarloaf, another top Maine ski resort that offers a scenic mountain course. Yet Sunday River plays to more generous landing areas than the relentless Loaf, making it the gentler sibling that still delivers scenic mountain vistas. This Robert Trent Jones Jr. design is a bit of a trek from many popular coastal Maine destinations but consider the drive through the mountains and tiny villages part of the appeal. To play Sunday River in late September, with the foliage on full display, is one of the best mountain golf experiences in the Northeast.
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Big Cedar Lodge: Ozarks National
Evan Schiller
Public
Big Cedar Lodge: Ozarks National
Hollister, MO, United States
The Ozarks of southern Missouri are not tall, but their ridge-and-valley topography provide a sense of heightened elevation. Ozarks National at Big Cedar Lodge takes advantage of the illusion with holes that run out along ridgetops and onto elongated fingers of land that fall off into wooded ravines. Formerly the site of a different, much narrower golf course, Coore & Crenshaw found ways to widen out many of the same spaces and added new holes on previously unused parts of the property. Though not as broad as is customary for the designers, the cant of the holes and the engaging fairway bunkering put a premium on shaping shots and hitting the correct line off the tee.
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