25 Best College Golf Courses in the U.S. for Student Golfers

By Todd Mrowice

NCAA logo on golf course

College golf courses reflect the programs that call them home. With the incredible growth that golf has experienced over the past two decades, not to mention equipment advancements, golf courses are now adapting to the collegiate game instead of the other way around. While there are close to 100 must-play college golf courses, these are the top-25 based on the course, practice facilities and student and public access.

25. Forest Akers-West (Michigan State University)

Forest Akers is home to the Michigan State Spartans and boats two championship, 18-hole layouts. The West Course is the most recognized after being redesigned by Michigan State alumnus, and renowned golf course designer, Arthur Hills. The West Course has hosted NCAA regionals, Big Ten Conference Championships, and the Western Junior Championships. The practice facilities, specifically the driving range, are among the best you’ll find in the U.S.

Forest Akers-West Golf Course

Michigan State students can tee it up on the West Course for just $30 (walking) while the general public pays $55 to walk or $75 to ride.

24. University of Michigan Golf Course (University of Michigan)

University of Michigan Golf Course is a great, historical layout that dates to the 1920 and is one of only six courses designed by the same man who shaped Augusta National, Alister MacKenzie. The course has many design traits of Scottish golf due to MacKenzie’s love for the game’s beginnings. The course hosted the NCAA Men's Golf Regional in 2012 in addition to 12 Big Ten Conference Championships.

University of Michigan Golf Course
University of Michigan

University of Michigan students can play the course for $39 any day of the golf season, including weekends and holidays. That's quite the bargain considering unaffiliated guests with don't qualify for M-Club, Faculty/Staff, Alumni, Senior or Youth discounts shell out $160 for a weekend round.

23. Hawk’s Nest Golf Club (Ohio State University ATI)

Easily accessible from Akron or Canton, Hawk’s Nest Golf Club is home to Ohio State University ATI and the course is a championship, 18-hole gem. The program didn’t have its own course until the Hawkins family donated it to the university. The $4.6 million donation is the largest in school history. Ohio State ATI is also known for having one of the best turfgrass management programs in the country, catapulting the careers of many superintendents and greens keepers.

The best part for Ohio State ATI students is they can play the course for less than a buck a hole, just $17.50 for 18 holes (walking), or $10 for a quick nine.

22. Rutgers Golf Course (Rutgers University)

Rutgers University Golf Course was founded in 1894 and was one of the early member courses of the USGA. Designed by Hal Purdy, the course is a challenging tree-lined layout with tricky water hazards and tight landing areas from the tee. Rutgers Golf Course is open to the public with prime weekend tee times running $71 with a cart, but Rutgers students get a considerable break on the cost, paying just $15 to walk a round during the week.

21. Mark Bostick Golf Course (University of Florida)

Home to the Florida Gators men’s and women’s golf teams, Mark Bostick Golf Course is practically on campus and is one of the highest-rated courses around Gainesville. Donald Ross designed the course in 1921 and it was renovated in 2001 by Bobby Weed. The renovation added over 500 yards of length to the heavily bunkered, tree-lined layout that challenges collegiate players as well as the general public.

UF students can access the track for just $25 during the week, and members have 365-day access to the driving range included in their membership cost.

20. University of Maryland Golf Course (University of Maryland)

Designed by George W. Cobb in 1958 and renovated by Bill Lowe in 2008, the University of Maryland Golf Course rewards strategy. Many tee shots look advantageous from the tee box but offer far less room than what meets the eye. Ball position on doglegs is critically important and the two opening holes are a rude awakening as the two hardest-ranked holes on the front nine for men.

University of Maryland Golf Course

University of Maryland students have the option to purchase a heavily discounted semester pass which recently cost as little as $250 for weekdays, and $325 for seven-day access.

19. The Walker Course (Clemson University)

There’s so much great golf in South Carolina, and the Walker Course is deservedly among the best courses you can play in the state. Clemson University calls the course home and there is even a par-3 known as The Tiger Paw because of the green and bunker designs that reflect a tiger’s paw. It is part of a tremendous finishing stretch of holes that are both picturesque and incredibly challenging.

The Walker Golf Course
Clemson University

The practice facilities include a full-service driving range, putting green, and chipping green/short-game area. Clemson students can walk an 18-hole round for just $30.

18. Duke University Golf Course (Duke University)

When Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and Rees Jones are attached to the design of your college’s golf course, you know it must be a special place. That’s just what Duke University has with its course which opened in 1957 and quickly became the premier collegiate golf course. The course is still viewed today as a challenging, yet classic layout, with contoured fairways and greens tightly tucked against hazards.

The Duke University Golf Course also features a 20+ acre practice facility with a short-game area, practice bunker, driving range and putting green. However, compared to some other college courses on this list, Duke Students don't get off so light on the greens fee, which runs $65 for weekend play and $40-45 during the week. That's still a break on the daily public rate of $100 on weekends.

17. The Rawls Course (Texas Tech University)

The Rawls Course was constructed for Texas Tech by the great architect Tom Doak. What was once a flat cotton field was molded into a layout that has rewarding fairways, but menacing green structures. It has hosted NCAA regional men’s and women’s championships, an NJCAA National Championship, and U.S Amateur and U.S. Open qualifiers. The course stretches over 7,000 yards.

The Rawls Course uses dynamic pricing, so regardless of your affiliation with the University, tee time prices are constantly changing.

16. UNC Finley Golf Course (University of North Carolina)

Finley Golf Course dates back to 1949 and is home to the North Carolina Tar Heels men’s and women’s golf teams. Designed by Tom Fazio, Finley Golf Course was his 11th course in the state of North Carolina. The design challenges golfers on every shot. Every tee shot deserves a second look before firing. Consistently ranked among the best in the state, Finley Golf Course also has the Naismith Grill for a great post-round meal.

UNC Finley Golf Course

UNC students can enjoy the course for $40 during the week or $45 on weekends. Meanwhile, the practice facilities include a driving range with a grass teeing area plus 42 mats, in addition to a short-game area and two practice putting greens.

15. A.L. Gustin Golf Course (University of Missouri)

Named after the Kansas City man who donated the land to the University of Missouri, A.L. Gustin Golf Course is home to the University of Missouri. The course was the first college golf course in the United States certified by Audubon International and in 1997 was recognized as a Cooperative Sanctuary. The natural views Gustin Golf Course are second to none.

A.L. Gustin Golf Course
University of Missouri

The MU fee is just $23 during the week or $28 on weekends, and the golfing public can enjoy Gustin for a reasonable rate as well, just $38 on weekends.

14. The Ohio State University Golf Club-Scarlet (Ohio State University)

One of Ohio State's most famous alumni, Jack Nicklaus, revamped the Scarlet Course in 2006 and with the renovation came high praise as well as the Korn Ferry Tour's Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship. The club is semi-private and exclusively for those with an Ohio State University affiliation. Parents of OSU students can't even play on their own.

The Ohio State University Golf Club

Limited course access keeps the Scarlet course from ranking higher on the list. OSU students are held to a limit of just six rounds per year, and can only bring one guest on weekend mornings.

13. The Course at Sewanee (University of the South)

The University of the South has perhaps one of the finest homes in NCAA Division III golf at the incredible The Course at Sewanee in Sewanee, Tennessee. This tranquil layout is sedentary in nature and has some amazing elevation changes. Gil Hanse renovated the course in 2013, the same architect who designed the Olympic course for the 2016 summer games and renovated the Blue Monster at the TPC in Doral.

Perhaps the most appealing part of the Course at Sewanee for potential college students is the accessibility. For just $1,000, incoming freshmen can get a membership that lasts through graduation. Given the climate, that could be 1,400 days of golf. Even if you step on campus in the fall of your freshman year having never touched a club, you can graduate as a scratch golfer at that rate.

12. University of New Mexico Golf Course-Championship (University of New Mexico)

The Championship course at the University of New Mexico is continually recognized as a top golf course in the U.S., and one of, if not the top course, in New Mexico. The course hosted the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships four times (1960, 1976, 1992, 1998) and the NCAA Women's Championship in 1987. The desert sand gives this course incredible character and definition.

UNM students can try their hand at the Championship Course for just $18 walking during the week, or $52 on the weekends.

11. Stanford Golf Course (Stanford University)

Stanford Golf Course was designed and built by George C. Thomas Jr. and William "Billy" Bell, but only after Stanford University students fought to have a course of their own built back in the 1920s. The course has had some talented players come and go throughout the years, but none more so than Tiger Woods (with honorable mention to Tom Watson). Stanford University’s golf course is routinely ranked as one of the NCAA’s best. The course offers challenging holes that rely more on strategy than length, and feature beautiful views the surrounding countryside.

Stanford Golf Course
Stanford University

The Stanford Golf Learning Center and Driving Range are open to the public and include a 50-stall driving range. The course itself is open to Stanford students, faculty & staff, alumni, members and guests, and has hosted U.S. Open qualifying, women's NCAA Championships, men's NCAA Regionals, Pac-12 Championships, and USGA Junior Amateur qualifying.

10. Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex (Purdue University)

As part of the famous Pete Dye Golf Trail, the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex includes a pair of outstanding 18-hole layouts that are home to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. the Kampen Course has hosted the 2008 NCAA Men's Championships and the 2003 NCAA Women's Championships. The Ackerman-Allen Course is an incredibly challenging parkland layout that stretches to nearly 7,500 from the tips.

Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex

Sharpening your game at the Boilermaker Golf Complex is easy. There are heated indoor driving range bays and an 11,400 square-foot training center in addition to a short game practice area with multiple short-game and putting greens. Purdue students shell out just $29 to walk 18 holes during the week, while a weekend public round ranges up to $109 with a cart.

9. Birdwood Golf Course (University of Virginia)

Designed by Davis Love III, Birdwood Golf Course is part of the famous Boar’s Head Resort in Charlottesville and is home to the University of Virginia’s golf teams. Along with a championship 18-hole golf course, Birdwood also has The Nest, which is a six-hole par-3 course. In addition, Ridges is a fantastic 18-hole putting course that sprawls over an acre of land. Birdwood not only serves up a championship layout, but it also has all of the modern amenities and extras to make it a top collegiate facility.

If you want to take advantage of all Birdwood has to offer, it'll cost you. Public rounds are easily north of $100. UVA students get a price break, but can still expect to shell out a pretty penny to play.

8. Warren Golf Course (University of Notre Dame)

The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame tee it up at Warren Golf Course, a beautiful links-style course that is housed on over 250 wooded acres in South Bend, Indiana. The course is certified by Audubon International and is a preserved wildlife habitat. The famous golden dome is a backdrop to a fescue-lined, rolling hill terrain that is a treat to play. The par 3s have considerable length and if the wind is blowing you are in for a true links experience.

Warren Golf Course Notre Dame

Notre Dame students can walk the course for just $28 during the week, while public rates range up to $90 on the weekend with a cart.

7. Pete Dye River Course (Virginia Tech University)

Renovated by Pete Dye just a decade after it opened, The Pete Dye River Course screams Dye design from the bunkering to the angles. The course is set on the New River, and water comes into play in several unwelcomed areas. Tall fescue helps shape the fairways and greens in Dye's signature style. The course is home to not only the Virginia Tech golf teams, but the Radford University golf teams as well.

Virginia Tech, Radford and New River Community College students can make a loop at the Pete Dye River Course for $35 with a cart, while the public weekend rate starts at $59.

6. The Meadows at Grand Valley State (Grand Valley State University)

One of the top collegiate golf facilities in the country belongs to Grand Valley State University, a Division II school located in Michigan. The Meadows has hosted nine NCAA National Championships and has a layout with natural wetlands and plentiful strategic bunkers. Designed by Dr. Michael Hurdzan, The Meadows course is accompanied by an outstanding practice facility that has 110 hitting areas and a 15,000 square-foot putting and chipping complex.

The best part about the Meadows for GVSU students is it only costs $20 for an 18-hole round during the week.

5. Jimmie Austin Golf Club (University of Oklahoma)

The University of Oklahoma golf teams sharpen their skills at Jimmie Austin Golf Club which is filled with risk vs. reward shots and clever hole names such as Punch Bowl and Chute to Illusion. Bishop Creek runs right through the course, which features topography shaped by the South Canadian River, rolling hills, and native grasses. In addition to the 7,455-yard championship tees with a 77.9 course rating, the course also has seven other sets of tees to accommodate all players including family outings.

Given the course's semi-private status, students get a break on greens fees, but at $50, a round of golf is still an investment on a student budget. The public rate is $109 on weekends and $89 during the week.

4. Yale Golf Course (Yale University)

Yale Golf Course is annually ranked among the best courses in the world, let alone Connecticut. This Ivy League course has a rich history dating back to 1923 when USGA co-founder Charles Blair Macdonald carved into the swampy, wooded area and along with Seth Raynor and made a course to stand the test of time. Its large greens are punished by deep bunkers, and the fairways by heavily tree-lined edges.

Course access for students is equally as prestigious as the course itself. Sure, $75 for a tee time before 3 p.m. is enough to make any student roll their eyes, but students play free after 3 p.m. That's right, free golf on one of the best courses in the world for Yale students (in residence). If only it were a little easier to get accepted.

3. The Pfau Course (Indiana University)

The Pfau Course opened to great hype in 2020 and quickly met and exceeded the expectations. Home to the Indiana Hoosiers, the course was designed by Steve Smyers and two-time major winner and Hoosier native Fuzzy Zoeller. The course touches on all of the golf senses from tall fescue that you’d see on links courses to holes that highlight the midwestern tree-lines, and open areas. The Pfau Course is certainly one of the best collegiate courses, but also an overall top course in the state of Indiana.

The Pfau Course at Indiana University
Indiana University

The practice facility includes a 25-station driving range, 10,332 square-foot putting green, two chipping greens and two practice bunkers. On the downside, IU students still need to come up with $55 to play a weekday round, or $25 to walk any day after 4 p.m.

2. University Ridge (University of Wisconsin)

University Ridge is home to the Wisconsin Badgers and is a Robert Trent Jones masterpiece. Stretching out to 7,286 yards, the course is highlighted by holes such as No. 4, named Morse Pond due to the pond that guards the right side of this long par-4. To go along with the course, the 33-acre practice facility is pristine and has everything you need for your game. Built in 1991, University Ridge is one of the best courses in the entire state of Wisconsin.

University Ridge golf course

Wisconsin students can play University Ridge for as little as $29, while the general public pays $95 for a weekend round with a cart. The great news is you can enjoy the golf course year-round, just not always for golf. University Ridge offers cross-country skiing over the winter.

1. UGA Golf Course (University of Georgia)

The University of Georgia’s golf facilities makes a couple of things crystal clear. The practice facilities and amenities show why it would be difficult to ever want to leave the grounds. The golf course shows why UGA players are always well prepared and nationally recognized. The Robert Trent Jones layout was renovated in 2006 by Love Golf Design and now offers the finest collegiate golf experience in the U.S. while also being available to the public. The course has hosted the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic, multiple men’s and women’s Southeastern Conference Championships, and three NCAA Women’s Championships.

University of Georgia Golf Course

Not only does the UGA Golf Course offer a premium golf and practice experience, but the course caters to students, who can walk 18 holes for less than $20 during the week, with student green fees checking in at a low $19.50.

About the Author

Todd Mrowice is a Staff Writer for GolfLink. He has been writing about golf for over 10 years including a long tenure at GOLFChicago Magazine. Todd has covered all aspects of the game including travel, products, business, and professional tours.