A cold beer on the golf course can be a savior on a hot day, the swing juice one needs after a tough start, or a reward after 18 well-played holes.
Some golf courses are crafting their own beer, but when it comes to getting a few golfers together for a trip, focusing the adventure on towns known for their beer scenes is never a bad idea.
With more craft-brewing areas popping up than ever before—combined with fabulous food, too—here are six great towns for both golf and beer.
Asheville, about two hours from Charlotte, N.C., was first named Beer City USA in 2009—a title it has now won four times. Dozens of craft breweries call Asheville home after the movement really got started in the early 1990s with the introduction of the Highland Brewing Company. Asheville Brewing Company and Green Man Brewery were other early spots that put down roots in the city, and more continue to open with tasting rooms around town, like the Wicked Weed “Funkatorium” or the Beer Parlour at Cellarest Beer Project.
On a day that doesn’t include drinking all the beer the town has to offer, the trip through the surrounding area of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway has been dubbed one of the most scenic drives in the country. That drive will lead you to a drive of another kind, as Asheville’s golf scene is picking up steam.
Just minutes from downtown, Asheville Municipal Golf Course is an 18-hole Donald Ross layout that opened in 1927 and maxes out around 6,400 yards. Ross’s Omni Grove Park Golf Course, host of a PGA Tour event from 1933–51, and Karl Litten’s Broadmoor Golf Links are other popular public options that offer scenic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Nearby Black Mountain Golf Course, another Ross design built in 1929, winds through the town of Black Mountain and is highlighted by the 17th hole, a 747-yard par six that was at one time the longest hole in the world.
Portland has long been known as one of the biggest beer towns in the U.S.—and while some of the originals have come and gone, the “City of Roses” still boasts one of the best scenes for craft beer in the country.
Breakside Brewery (just a few years old when it won the top prize from the Great American Beer Festival for best IPA), Upright Brewing (just celebrated its 10th anniversary and is located in the basement of a building near the Broadway Bridge), and Von Ebert Brewing lead the way.
Golf can be played year-round, for the most part, and Portland has a plethora of fine options to put a tee in the ground. Heron Lakes is minutes north of downtown and offers 36 holes designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Wildwood, on the edge of the Portland Forest Park hills, is considered the “locals’ favorite.” The Peter Jacobsen/Jim Hardy-designed Stone Creek Golf Club is just south of downtown on 165 acres with great views of Mt. Hood. The semi-private The Reserve Vineyards & Golf Club, which hosted Jacobsen’s Fred Meyer Challenge from 1998–2002, has two 18s, the North and South, designed by Bob Cupp and Jim Fought, respectively.
Turns out, the other Portland—on the other coast—is pretty good for both beer and golf, too.
About 20 breweries are pouring a variety of beers in Portland, Maine—ranked, barely, in the top-500 most populous cities in the U.S.—and the can’t-miss spot in town is Industrial Way, where six of them are all in the same area just 20 minutes from downtown.
The better news about Industrial Way? It is just two minutes from Riverside Golf Course, owned by the city and featuring an 18-hole course, 9-hole course, and 3-hole practice layout. The City of South Portland Golf Course is a friendly par-33, 9-hole course perfect for newcomers and casual players. Tom Walker’s Nonesuch River Golf Club, and Nonesuch River Brewing, go hand-in-hand.
In 2014, Chicago was named America’s best beer town by Thrillist magazine. There are more than 160 breweries in the city and there are a ton of great places in lots of different and hip neighborhoods to experiment with all kinds of beer.
And although the land isn’t very dramatic, the city also boasts many excellent golf courses. While Medinah, Olympia Fields, Kemper Lakes, and Chicago Golf Club get all the accolades for being major-championship hosts, the public golf is also special.
The Glen Club is a Tom Fazio design built on a former Naval Air Base minutes from O’Hare Airport. The once-private Ravisloe Country Club is a Ross design with rolling fairways and steep bunkers. The 9-hole Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course is located on the scenic shores of Lake Michigan in the Chicago Park District. And of course, well-known Cog Hill Golf and Country Club (it’s No. 4 “Dubsdread” course a past PGA Tour host) is a four-course offering for public golfers.
San Diego, Calif.
San Diego offers golf-weather 365 days a year, and that spells beer-drinking weather all year long, too. “America’s Finest City” boasts more than 100 breweries, many of which lean into the fresh Californian ingredients available. Green Flash Brewing Company, Ballast Point Brewing Company, and Karl Strauss Brewing Company—the first in the city—are just a few noteworthy craft beer spots.
While no-doubt it’s a beer town, San Diego is also a top golf town with almost as many courses as breweries (about 90). There is a ton of variety, with courses inland, on the sea, or even desert mountain adjacent. U.S. Open host Torrey Pines is the most notable. Just a short drive south of downtown, Coronado Golf Course is one of the nation’s best value courses with epic views of San Diego Harbor. Omni La Costa Resort & Spa (former host of the PGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions and the World Golf Championship’s Accenture Match Play) and Arnold Palmer’s design at Aviara Golf Club (current host of the LPGA’s Kia Classic) are worth a jaunt to Carlsbad—about 40 minutes away.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
The accolades keep rolling in for Grand Rapids, which, like Asheville, was also named as a past winner of Beer City USA. CNN even named it one of the 15 best beer cities in the world (joining Portland, Maine, and Asheville as the only American spots on the list). More than 40 breweries are located in Grand Rapids, led by spots like Founders Brewing Co., Brewery Vivant, and New Holland Brewing.
The attraction of Lake Michigan and the breathtaking Midwest setting also make for great golf in Grand Rapids. Michigan native Mike DeVries’s trio of courses—The Mines (a sandy site, closest to downtown), Pilgrim’s Run (north), and Diamond Springs (south)—represent some of the area’s best. The fine parkland municipal L.E. Kaufman Golf Course at Palmer Park is also located close to downtown. And about an hour north in the Michigan woodlands, but worth the drive, is Tullymore Golf Resort’s 36 holes from Jim Engh (Tullymore) and Jerry Matthews (St. Ives).
What towns do you think should be on this list?