Take a look out your office window — it’s November in the South. The leaves are changing and the temperatures in Atlanta and surrounding areas are in the mid-60s most days.
There is no better time to don a long sleeve shirt or a sweater for a relaxing 18 holes at the end of a road trip with friends. You can take in the fall colors while getting there and while you’re playing. Howard Neufeld, a professor of biology at Appalachian State University and a fall color expert, said the colors are just about at their peak.
“The warm weather has really delayed colors this year by about a week or so. But when they do arrive, they appear to be quite good,” he said.
Fill up your tank and check out these great spots a few hours or less from Atlanta.
Barnsley Gardens in Adairsville
Atlantans know Barnsley Gardens as the former sprawling plantation called Woodlands in Adairsville. It’s less than an hour north of Atlanta on I-75 and a good bargain when it comes to golf and overnight packages.
Fall rounds of golf on the Jim Fazio-designed championship course start at $60 for nine holes during the week and go up to $100 for 18 holes on the weekends.
Visitors also can drive through the resort to look at the fall colors or use the 12 miles of hiking trails that make for a brisk workout. A current Internet special will give you a $100 credit for dinner during your stay.
Adairsville is at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, so bring your camera, Neufeld said.
“By the end of the first week in November, and into the second week, colors there should begin to show up. Very spectacular scenery and fall colors,” he said.
597 Barnsley Gardens Road, Adairsville, GA 30103. 770-773-7480, www.barnsleyresort.com.
Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa
There is golf and plenty more to do at this swanky resort folded into the Blue Ridge Mountains in the shadow of Brasstown Bald, the highest peak in Georgia.
Golfers won’t be disappointed with a course ranked as one of the state’s best. The scenic golf course makes its way through trout streams, ponds and wildlife preserves. Designed to accommodate the duffer as well as the pro, Brasstown Valley Golf Course offers five sets of tees, full practice facilities, a pro shop, and lessons and golf clinics from a PGA pro.
Equestrians will find beautifully appointed stables and five miles of trails that take them through the rolling hills of the resort. Brasstown Valley offers custom excursions as well as catered rides and hayrides. Younger children can enjoy the horses with gentle hand-held tours.
Just golf is $49 any day of the week, which includes cart fee. That drops to $39 in December. Guests who overnight can select from accommodations in the lodge plus private cottages and an exclusive spa suite decked out with a large jetted tub and a fireplace.
FarmLinks Golf Club at Pursell Farms in Sylacauga, Ala.
One of the most beautiful golf courses in the South is in rural Alabama, about two hours from Atlanta. FarmLinks is a research and demonstration golf course, meaning many of the grasses and dirts are tried there before they end up at your club or public course.
This course belongs to the Pursell family, but they will treat your party like VIP guests. The property is loaded with trees and scenic views from mountain tops and tee boxes. The 5th hole features a stunning 130-foot drop as you hit into and over trees that are now basking in their fall glory.
FarmLinks also features cabins and cottages right on the course where you can stay and enjoy farm-to-fork dining options and front porch views of the changing leaves.
FarmLinks’ fall rate is $125, all inclusive (all-you-can-play golf, lunch, unlimited snacks, cart, practice range access) and $75 for 18 holes only. Military, seniors and women can play for $59.
2200 FarmLinks Blvd., Sylacauga, AL 35152. 877-292-FARM, www.farmlinks.org.
Dancing Rabbit Golf Club in Philadelphia, Miss.
A trip to one of the South’s premiere golfing and vacation destinations allows you to ride through Alabama and Mississippi to check out the autumn foliage. One tank will get you to this resort for golf, gambling and grand fall colors that are peaking in the next week or so.
PGA pro Mark Powell, the club’s director of golf operations, said the fall months are the perfect time to play Dancing Rabbit’s two courses: the Azaleas and the Oaks. The rates are affordable at $75 to $90 per round and there are stay-and-play specials where you can overnight at the adjacent Silver Star Hotel.
“It’s something you wouldn’t expect to see here in Mississippi,” Powell said. “Both courses are great to play this season, and you can enjoy the Choctaw landscape of ancient pines and hardwoods.”
13541 Mississippi 16, Philadelphia, MS 39350. 601-663-0011, www.dancingrabbitgolf.com.
Timber Creek Golf Club in Spanish Fort, Ala.
The leaves will be slower to change this far south, but through November and into December you will be able to enjoy the slow migration to fall on the Gulf of Mexico. Fall colors among the palm trees is uniquely Gulf Shores.
In fact, November may be the best time of the year to golf in Lower Alabama. There are plenty of courses to pick from, but Timber Creek — with fairways lined by loblolly pines, dogwoods and magnolias — will not only be in great shape for 18, but also for showing the wonders of fall colors you don’t see in Atlanta.
After you play Timber Creek, there are eight other courses within a 45-minute drive. Go to www.golf.gulfshores.com and look for fall specials that include condo stays for as low as $82 per person per night.
9650 Timbercreek Blvd., Spanish Fort, AL 36527. 251-621-9900, www.golftimbercreek.com.
Old South Golf Links in Bluffton, S.C.
With a wet summer and a dry fall, South Carolina is experiencing its most intense fall colors in almost a decade. A quick jaunt out of Atlanta on I-16 will take you to the Lowcountry and the Old South Golf Links in Bluffton.
Enjoy the towering oaks and rolling terrain that back up to the intracoastal marsh. Old South offers a fair challenge for golfers of every skill level and spectacular views of what fall in South Carolina looks like.
Fall greens fees range from $55 to $70, or play all day for $99. For a golfer who likes to be challenged, Old South has three island greens.
Fall deals to stay on Hilton Head or in Bluffton are at www.hiltonheadgolfisland.com.
50 Buckingham Plantation Drive, Bluffton, SC 29910. 843-785-5353, www.oldsouthgolf.com.
Fast facts about the fall colors and golf
- FarmLinks is a research and demonstration golf course in Sylacauga, Ala.
- In addition to 18 holes of golf, Barnsley Gardens offers 12 miles of hiking trails.
- “Some places are reporting that the colors seem ‘different’ this year — deeper purple on the dogwoods, for example,” said fall color expert Howard Neufeld.
- Dancing Rabbit’s Azaleas course was called “the Augusta you can play” by Golf Magazine, and is rated one of the nation’s top 100 public golf courses.
- Many courses this fall are offering a discount for members or retirees from branches of the armed forces.