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Fall in love with these golf destinations and resorts at this colorful time of year

Jason Scott DeeganBy Jason Scott Deegan,
Senior Staff Writer
Gary Player Course - Geneva National G.C. - hole 16
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Fall colors help the Gary Player Course at Geneva National look even more scenic. (Jason Scott Deegan/TravelGolf)

Fall provides the last chance to have a last dance with the best courses of the Midwest, East Coast and Canada for the golf season.

Fall is a great time to tee it up at these places, if you can avoid frost delays in the morning, aerated greens and fallen leaves in the fairways. The shoulder season prices are cheaper, the courses are less crowded and the colors of the leaves can leave a striking impression.

The trick is to hit the courses during their peak colors before the leaves start dropping. For many courses, that time will be happening very soon, if not right now.

I'm sure there are dozens of northern resorts worth visiting this time of year -- I hear fall in Vermont and Maine is spectacular -- but I can only vouch for courses and resorts that I've recently seen.

So call in sick and enjoy this Indian summer on the golf course while it lasts. There are some great fall color tours by golf cart. Be sure to catch them before they close for a long winter slumber.

Northern Michigan golf

Nobody does fall golf better than northern Michigan. There are so many resorts to choose from. You can't go wrong with any courses of the Gaylord Golf Mecca, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

The Cedar River and Legend golf courses at Shanty Creek Resorts are premier venues for showcasing the fall colors, along with the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, Crystal Mountain Resort, The Homestead, Tullymore Golf Resort and Boyne USA Resort's three properties.

Muskoka, Ontario golf

The Canadian golf scene slips away quickly in the fall, two hours north of Toronto, but locals swear this can be the best time of year to play. The bugs are gone, and so are the tourists.

Danny Jackson, the director of golf at Deerhurst Resort, said the hillsides around the Lakeside and Highlands golf courses "light on fire" this time of year.

The options on where to play are endless: The Rock Golf Club, Deerhurst, Muskoka Bay Club, Oak Bay Golf & Country Club and Taboo Resort Golf & Spa. Make sure to take advantage of the accessibility of Bigwin Island Golf Club, a private course that only allows public play in the spring and fall.

Golf in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania

This destination takes its colors so seriously the local convention and visitors bureau provides updates of its three color zones with a Fall Foliage hotline (570-421-5565) and live cameras.

The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort on the shores of the Delaware River sits in lowland surrounded by the forest and hills of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Twenty-four of the resort's 27 classic holes reside on a picturesque island in the middle of the river. It's a beautiful place any time of year, but the fall can be especially exhilarating.

Brainerd, Minnesota golf

Like Muskoka, Brainerd is a summer lakeside escape for city folks. I might be biased -- because I was born in St. Paul and still have family in the Twin Cities -- but this is one of the best destinations nobody outside of the Midwest and Texas has discovered. Texans invade the region to escape the heat of the summer.

In fall, courses like The Classic at Madden's, Deacon's Lodge -- the best of the three courses owned by the Grand View Lodge -- and the two Legacy courses at Cragun's Resort and Hotel on Gull Lake light up like Christmas trees.

Crystal Springs Golf Resort in New Jersey

New Yorkers stranded in the cement jungle of Manhattan can jump in their rental cars and find bliss in the New Jersey countryside at the Crystal Springs Golf Resort, home to seven courses and three fine resorts.

The linksy Ballyowen Golf Club might be the resort's best course, but with so few trees, the best bet in fall is to tee it up at the Wild Turkey Golf Club or Great Gorge Country Club.

Golf in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Sensing a theme here? Lake Geneva is yet another lakeside retreat just outside of a major city. It's just a few long par 5s from Chicago, but with its cornfields and small towns scattered on Lake Delavan, Lake Como and Lake Geneva, it feels miles away.

Visitors can stay in luxury at the Grand Geneva Resort, home to The Brute and The Highlands courses, or can crash at Lake Lawn Resort on the shores of Lake Delavan. Geneva National Golf Club is stocked with 54 holes of golf. Don't overlook the Abbey Springs Golf Course, a former private club with narrow fairways.

Turning Stone Resort in Verona, N.Y.

Turning Stone Resort will keep you busy by day at its three excellent courses and by night at its casino and fantastic restaurants. All three of its courses -- designed by Tom Fazio, Rick Smith and Robert Trent Jones Jr. -- offer a different experience. Smith's Shenendoah Golf Club might be the most fun. Fazio's Atunyote Golf Club, a former PGA Tour venue, delivers the "wow" factor with the best conditioning inside the gates of an ultra-private setting. RTJ Jr.'s Kaluhyat Golf Club plays the toughest. It's one of the most difficult courses anywhere.

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Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 600 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

 
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