The best parts of fall golf, ranked
Fall golf is not perfect. Dwindling daylight means there's less time to play while signaling winter is charging around the corner. 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 autumn-event fields can be confused for 84 Lumber Classic reruns (shoutout to the perseverance of Kevin Stadler and J.J. Henry), and Augusta feels very, very far away.
And yet, fall golf remains the best type of golf. Here are 10 highly unscientific reasons:
More weekend availability
College and professional football removes the non-zealous from the equation, awarding more tee times and less on-course traffic. Plus, you don't have to drive little Timmy to his Saturday-morning baseball game. Granted, you probably also have him enrolled in some type of fall baseball academy, but that's on you.
A break from the heat, sure. Yet in our 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.) Coupled with the sunset backsplash of fall leaves and you have a recipe for heaven.
Autumn leaves are often derided for causing their share of lost balls (more on this in a moment), but with fescue and weeds thinning out, it is an opportune time to traverse wooded and hazard edges for previously-AWOL pellets. Sure, they're caked in mud after a season in the elements, but they're perfect for your shag bag.
We are of the belief that, if you're an amateur, you shouldn't be worried about score in the first place. However, also understand the inherent pressure and anxiety when it comes to performance at the club championship, member-guest or buddies' trip, and those apprehensions can muddle all the beauties associated with the game. With these events (likely) 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.
Liberal leaf rule
An errant tee shot in the spring or summer leads to a penalty. Post September, no matter how wild the drive, your opponent is likely to chalk up your ball's vanishment to that damn foliage. Would love to see the PGA Tour adopt a similar policy for its fall schedule; Phil Mickelson would be unstoppable.
Aeration complaints aside, the putting surfaces aren't subject to the summer buzzcuts, making them more manageable to navigate.
OK, there's a reason that Tabasco-logoed straw hat remains on the rack. Nevertheless, there are a few bargain buys as club pros try to offload equipment and clothes before the 2020 shipments arrive.
The drill-sergeant routine drops as the fog of war dissipates. They are not overtly 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, should it be spiked.