Although golf has always been a nineteen-hole game, the beverage of choice has been subject to change. These days beer-loving foursomes are more likely to skip Miller and Bud and choose instead from an assortment of small-batch craft brews. Of the $97 billion that was spent on beer in America last year, microbrews accounted for $5 billion—an 11 percent increase over 2006. How much of this consumption took place at golf courses is anyone’s guess. But if you’re looking to sample some of the most inspired microbrews from across the country, October brings beer festivals by the barrel—many of them near heady courses. And if you don’t like to mix drinking with driving a golf ball, remember the words of Harry Vardon: “Moderation is essential in all things, but never in my life have I failed to beat a teetotaler.”
Great American Beer Festival
Just weeks after hosting the Democratic National Convention, the Mile High City will witness another coronation when judges at America’s largest beer fest (beertown.org) award prizes in seventy-five categories. For “hopheads,” the tasting options are endless, with a total of about 1,800 brews from more than four hundred U.S. producers.
Fossil Trace Golf Club
This Jim Engh course in nearby Golden, Colorado, weaves around sixty-four-million-year-old sandstone outcroppings. $53–$58; 303-277-8750, fossiltrace.com
Golf Club at Bear Dance
Dense pines and elevation shifts define this sporty layout in Larkspur, forty-five minutes south of Denver. It’s home to the historical center of the Colorado PGA. $79; 303-681-4653, beardancegolf.com
Murphy Creek Golf Course
The USGA thought enough of this prairie links in Aurora that it chose it to host this year’s U.S. Amateur Public Links. $35–$42; 303-361-7300, golfaurora.com
Consistently named one of Denver’s finest lodgings, this boutique hotel sits within walking distance of the festival. From $269 per night; 888-727-1200, hotelteatro.com
This year-old high-rise hotel has the largest rooms in the city, and the festival is a short walk away. From $209 per night; 303-312-3800, ritzcarlton.com
Breckenridge Brewery & Pub
With the possible exception of Portland, Oregon, Denver is the brewpub capital of America, and this one, on Blake Street next to Coors Field, may be the city’s best. breckenridgebrewery.com
Stick around to watch the team battle Jacksonville on October 12. Broncos home games routinely sell out, and as of press time tickets were going fast. Try stubhub.com.
Knoxville Brewers’ Jam
Over fifty leading craft brewers—including a handful from Britain, the Czech Republic and Belgium—will participate in the twelfth edition of this annual rite of fall (knoxvillebrewersjam.com). Thousands of beer lovers are expected to turn out at World’s Fair Park to sample the ales, lagers, pilsners and stouts and to listen to the music of four local bands.
Landmark Golf Club at Avalon
A graceful Joe Lee design a half hour southwest of Knoxville, Landmark rolls through the Smoky Mountain foothills. $38–$58; 865-986-4653, avalongolf.com
River Islands Golf Club
This lengthy and dramatic Arthur Hills routing meanders among tall trees along the French Broad River, twenty minutes east of the city. $56–$60; 865-933-0100, riverislandsgolf.com
Stonehenge Golf Club
It’s worth the hour-plus drive to play this course, nestled amid the rocks and bosky denseness of Cumberland Plateau. $69; 931-484-3731, stonehengegolf.com
Hilton Knoxville Newly renovated and conveniently located, the Hilton is offering two-person festival packages for $200. 865-523-2300, hilton.com
Hotel St. Oliver
Stay here in the heart of Market Square to get a sense of nineteenth-century Tennessee elegance. From $75 per night; 865-521-0050, hotelstolivertn.com
Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria
Knoxville’s pedestrian-friendly Market Square and Old City neighborhoods are the perfect places to continue the good times into the evening. This festive establishment, located in a converted nineteenth-century hardware and feed store, has dozens of beers on tap, live music, billiards, darts and a patio with sunset views of downtown. barleystaproom.com
Great American Eastern Invitational Microbrewery Festival
Since 1991, Stoudt’s has welcomed hundreds of brewers to its German-style beer halls and courtyards for festivals of various sorts. This year’s Microfest (stoudtsbeer.com) is actually two events, the first held in August and the second on this autumn Saturday, when wurst and schnitzel will accompany the suds.
The Golf Course at Glen Mills
Bobby Weed built great variety into this charming layout in the pastoral Brandywine Valley. The course, an hour southeast of the festival, also serves as a laboratory for the reforming youths at the Glen Mills Schools. $79–$95; 610-558-2142, glenmillsgolf.com
Hershey Country Club, West Course
The best of Hershey’s three eighteens, the hilly West Course brims with history: Byron Nelson won the 1940 PGA Championship here, and Ben Hogan served as the head pro from 1941 to 1951. It’s an hour west of Adamstown. $120–$140; 717-533-2464, hersheygolfcollection.com
The only way to get on Hershey Country Club is to book a room either at this large family-oriented lodge (from $179 per night; 717-533-3311, hersheylodge.com) or at the stately Hotel Hershey (from $269 per night; 717-533-2171, thehotelhershey.com). Both offer fine accommodations, gourmet restaurants and access to the Chocolate Spa.
Antiques Capital USA
Adamstown has given itself this not-so-humble nickname, and even if your inclination is to avoid antiques shops, you’re likely to find something of interest among the pieces of vintage furniture and countless artifacts and curiosities of Americana in the town’s many barnlike markets and auction houses. antiquescapital.com
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