The Loop

The 12 best parts of fall golf

September 19, 2023
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Cappi Thompson

Fall golf is has its drawbacks. Dwindling daylight means there's less time to play. Winter lies in wait. You live in constant fear of frost delays, aeration and a tee time behind a high school match, a pace that makes the Solheim Cup seem like a sprint. Some of the PGA Tour's fields can be confused for 84 Lumber Classic reruns (shoutout to the perseverance of Kevin Stadler and J.J. Henry), and Augusta feels years away.

And yet, despite all of that, fall golf remains the best type of golf. Here are 12 highly unscientific reasons:

More weekend availability

College football and the NFL remove the casuals from the equation, meaning more tee times and less on-course traffic. Plus, you don't have to drive Junior to his Saturday-morning baseball game. You probably have him enrolled in some type of fall baseball academy, but that's on you.

The weather

In our not-so-humble opinion, 55 to 65 degrees—what connoisseurs consider the sweet spot for wine storage—applies to golf as well. No wonder Jim Nantz is a master of both domains. (Editor's note: Assistant editor Chris Powers wanted to make sure "Overcast days are the G.O.A.T." was mentioned. No argument here.)

Ammo refill

Autumn leaves are often loathed for causing their share of lost balls (more on this in a moment), but with fescue and weeds thinning out, it is an great time to hunt around nooks and crannies for previously-AWOL pellets. Sure, they're caked in mud, but they'll be perfect for your shag bag.

Low expectations

If you're an amateur, you shouldn't be worried about score in the first place. However, we also understand the pressure and anxiety when it comes to performance at the club championship, member-guest or buddies' trip. Those apprehensions can dull all the joys of the game. With these events finished for the season, one can focus on the only thing that matters: having fun.

Walking off the 18th green right in time for noon kickoff on Saturday

The best tailgate of them all.

Maple tree in autumn.

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Liberal leaf rule

An errant tee shot in the spring or summer is a penalty. Post September, no matter how wild the drive, your opponent is likely to chalk up your ball's vanishment to the darn foliage. We would love to see the PGA Tour adopt a similar policy for its fall schedule. Guys would be hitting driver off every tee.

Speaking of foliage ...

Sure, lush greenery is nice, but it pales in comparison to the autumnal rainbow of fall. The vistas from each course's hilltop explode. Sunset and sunrise rounds are bathed in golden light. Hell, things even smell better ... or is that the pumpkin spice air freshner in the cart?

Fantasy football talk

Too much of this is decidedly a bad thing, but when you're playing with you're father-in-law or paired with a random single, nothing gets the conversation flowing like chatting about where you drafted Jonathan Taylor. Of course there's always the chance you find out you're playing with one of those Superflex weirdos. Gross.

Slower greens

Aeration complaints aside, the putting surfaces aren't subject to the summer buzzcuts, making them easier to navigate.

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Paul Murphy / 500px

Golf-shop discounts

OK, there's a reason that Tabasco-logoed straw hat remains on the rack. Still, there are a few bargain buys as club pros try to offload equipment and clothes before the next season's shipments arrive.

Nicer starters

The drill-sergeant routine drops as the fog of war dissipates. They aren't overly friendly—they still have a job to do, dammit—but you're no longer walking on egg shells on the first tee.

Cider at the turn

And at the 19th hole, it should be spiked.