The Top 13 Best Landscaped College Golf Courses

There’s nothing more relaxing than a day spent on the golf course. With a couple buddies, a few beers, and a free afternoon, what could be better? Now, you should be aware that we at LawnStarter appreciate a good lawn. We love providing lawn care service in Austin, Fairfax, and Orlando as well. In fact, we’re unabashed lawn geeks. As far as achievements in Turfgrass Management go, golf courses are the pinnacle: acres upon acres of gorgeously designed and landscaped turf. Many colleges have both great Turfgrass programs and great golf teams, which usually equates to an amazing golf course as well. We took it upon ourselves to research and analyze the hundreds of college golf courses and sift through them to find the top 13. We crowdsourced opinions, surveyed students, faculty, and alumni, and analyzed hundreds of photos. Factors for ranking include innovative design, quality of landscaping teams, aesthetic appeal, popularity, and uniqueness. Without further ado, here are the top 13 best landscaped college golf courses:

13. Springdale Golf Club at Princeton


The prestigious Princeton University lands on our list at #13 with their Springdale Golf Club. The club was formed in 1895, a group of students, faculty, and alumni raised $25,000 to buy the old Stockton Farm of 240 acres. In 2007, they constructed a new clubhouse, and the golf course was rerouted for access from the new clubhouse. Interesting fact: in addition to designing the back nine, Gerard Barnes Lambert founded an advertising agency and famously marketed his Dad’s invention, Listerine, by making bad breath a social taboo.

12. Ohio State University Golf Club

ohio state university golf club landscaping

Founded by L.W. St. John and located in the suburbs of Columbus, OH, the Ohio State University Golf Club. The club consists of the Scarlet and Gray courses, but for this article’s purposes, we’re focusing on the amazing Scarlet course (though the Gray is nice, too). Though designed in 1938 by Dr. Alister MacKenzie, the course was recently renovated in 2005 and 2006, led by the vision of Jack Nicklaus, an Ohio State alumnus.

11. Palouse Ridge Golf Club (Washington State University)


Washington State University might have the most epic natural backdrop to a golf course I’ve ever seen.The hills make up for the lack of trees, and the greens are super fast. Washington State University is a college with a streak of great landscaping that extends to the unique Palouse Ridge Golf Club.

10. The Walker Course at Clemson

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Designed by DJ DeVictor, the Walker Course at Clemson is a South Carolinian treat. A course for all ages and skill sets, the Walker Course is an expertly maintained and landscaped work of art. It’s not surprising. Clemson offers one of the top Turfgrass Management programs in the country. If you’re hiring for a golf course or an LCO, a Clemson grad is usually a good bet.

9. The Course At Yale


In 1924, Yale’s golf course was designed by Charles Blair Macdonald. In 2014, it still stands as one of the top golf courses in the country (not just for colleges). The course is also noted for its difficulty, designed with narrow fairways and deeply bunkered greens. Of course, it’s expertly maintained and landscaped, and as a result, it’s a charm to play a round on the Yale Golf Course.

8. Pennsylvania State University


Penn State has two beautiful 18-hole golf courses, named after their school colors (blue and white). The course started in 1921 when two professors, Bob Rutherford and R.D. Pryde, laid out a 9-hole course. The sport caught on quickly on campus, and 9 more holes were added the next year, with the work being completed in 1926. Today, the course is one of the greatest in the country, thanks in part to the amazing Turfgrass Management program at Penn State.

7. Birdwood Golf Course (University of Virginia)


In 1739, the land that would later make up the Birdwood Golf Course was part of an “upland wilderness” land patent. In 1974, University of Virginia acquired the land, and in 1984 Lindsay Ervin designed the space into Birdwood, the award-winning golf course we know it as today. Birdwood Golf Course is also part of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program, and focuses on “best management practices in environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, chemical-use reduction and safety, water conservation and outreach and education.”

6. Pete Dye River Course at Virginia Tech


While I’m aware this will probably anger UVA alumni who hate losing anything to Virginia Tech, the Pete Dye River Course earns this victory. Though the course was built in 1998, it was in 2006 that Pete Dye transformed it to the world class course that it is today. With the river running up and down the whole length of the course, great landscaping maintenance complements this area’s natural elements to land the course a #6 spot.

5. University Ridge at University of Wisconsin


Madison, WI was recently ranked by Liveability as the #1 Best Place To Live, and with a golf course like University Ridge, it isn’t hard to imagine why. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and finished in 1991, the course is consistently ranked among the country’s best. In 2012, it underwent a “20-year Tune Up” project, that renewed and further improved all 18 holes of the course. This expert maintenance and care puts Wisconsin at the list at #5.

4. Stanford University


Stanford University is a breeding ground for excellence, golf course included. The renowned Stanford University Golf Course was designed in 1930 by architects William Bell and George C. Thomas. The course is challenging yet fair, with fast greens and a scenic location (where on a clear day, you can see the San Francisco skyline from the 18th hole). For its beautiful and difficult design, as well as its expert maintenance, Stanford deserves its #4 spot on this list.

3. Duke University Golf Club


Duke University in Durham is a school that prides itself on its ornate landscaping, from its beautiful campus to its world famous Sarah P. Duke Gardens. The Duke University Golf Course is further testament to this attitude. Designed by renowned course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr, the course opened to the public in 1957 to great popularity. Later, the course was renewed by like-minded architect, and the eldest son of Robert Trent Jones Sr., Rees Jones, to the state that it is in today. Like all that encompasses Duke University, the course embodies excellence in its design, maintenance, and  playability, and for that reason, we put it at #3.

2. Rawls Golf Course (Texas Tech)

562 yd par 5

Discreetly located on a short-grass prairie in the West Texas panhandle, The Rawls Golf Course at Texas Tech has established itself as a major force in college golf. The course, a large majority of which was funded by Jerry S. Rawls, was completed in September 2003. Once released to the public, the course quickly garnered national awards for its innovative design and affordability. This course is truly beautiful and is thus deserving of our 2nd place vote.

1. University of Georgia Golf Course

Special The 13th Hole at the University of Georgia Golf Course .

The University of Georgia Golf Course has it all – an impeccable year round climate, a challenging and unique design, and consistent landscaping and maintenance. Developed in 1968 and renovated in 2006, the  course is consistently ranked among our nation’s top golf courses. University of Georgia is also home to one our nation’s top Turfgrass Management programs and produces top-notch Turfgrass professionals.


Alex Birkett

Alex Birkett is marketer and writer. Aside from mowing lawns, he loves snowboarding, eating sushi, and lifting heavy weights. He moved to Austin, TX after graduating from the University of Wisconsin.