Your response to last week's tip on great, underrated golf courses near Major League Baseball stadiums was awesome. It's great to see so many fellow baseball fans comment and email us here at Golf Vacation Insider.
So, if you'll pardon the pun, I decided to make a doubleheader out of the baseball-themed tips and delve into some real baseball nerd territory:
Minor League stadiums...and great nearby golf.
Now, traveling around to see Major League stadiums is one thing - they're likely to be the main attraction on any visit. Minor League teams and stadiums, on the other hand, are probably going to be the secondary concern on a golf-first trip.
Minor league baseball is fun because it's relaxed, inexpensive to watch, and the whole scene tends to be a little kookier, with odd team names and promotions.
So if you're a baseball fan and you find yourself on a golf trip to the following popular destinations, you definitely ought to catch a ballgame...as well as some of these areas' "hidden gem" golf courses.
If you're in... Charleston, S.C.
Catch a ballgame at... Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, home of the Charleston River Dogs, a single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. You might even run into Charleston resident, golf nut and part-owner of the team Bill Murray.
Play golf at... Kiawah Island Resort and Wild Dunes Resort are the famous, more obvious choices. And they're great! But also consider Patriot's Point Golf Links, a hidden gem on the site of a naval and maritime museum, and close to the jumping-off point for Fort Sumter. The Links at Stono Ferry is another hidden gem, with a side of history: it's located on the site where the Revolutionary War Battle of Stono Ferry took place in 1779. The course's awesome torn-flags logo commemorates this.
If you're in... Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Catch a ballgame at... TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, home of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, a Single-A Chicago Cubs affiliate. The ballpark's name is a mouthful but it's actually a restrained, nicely-appointed place to take in a game, as well as tip back a couple at "Thirsty Thursdays" - $1 Budweiser and Bud Light draughts and $2 16-ounce cans - throughout the summer.
Play golf at... some 100 golf courses within a 35 or 40 mile radius. Famous favorites of ours are the Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and True Blue. Less-obvious but still excellent choices include the Avocet Course at Wild Wing Plantation, all three courses at Legends Resort and Prestwick Golf & Country Club. All of these tracks are convenient to the stadium, which is centrally located just a little bit north of the Myrtle Beach airport.
If you're in... Asheville, N.C.
Catch a ballgame at... McCormick field, which dates back to the 1920a, home of the Asheville Tourists, who date back in some form or another to the 1890s. As if that isn't enough history, parts of the film Bull Durham were filmed at the stadium. Now, the Tourists are a Single-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. Asheville is known for a temperate summer climate, great food scene and a great concentration of craft breweries, and the Tourists offer a $2 craft-beer Thirsty Thusday promotion of their own.
Play golf at... Grove Park Inn, a classic Donald Ross layout situated on the property of a grand hotel that dates back to 1913, and is now owned by Omni. Though not as pristine as the Grove Park Inn course, Asheville Municipal Golf Course is another Donald Ross original, and is regarded as one of the better publicly-owned facilities in the South. You certainly can't argue with the green fees, which top out around $40.
If you're in... Montgomery, Ala.
Catch a ballgame at... Riverwalk Stadium, home of the - get ready for this - Montgomery Biscuits, a AA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. The park itself is fairly standard, but the team does run an eclectic list of promotions throughout the season. Upcoming theme "nights" include "Jimmy Buffett Night," "James Bond Night" and "Hank Williams Night."
Play golf at... two of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's best facilities: Capitol Hill in Prattville and Cambrian Ridge in Greenville, just north and south of town, respectively. Capitol Hill has 54 holes in the form of the Judge, Senator and Legislator courses and Cambrian Ridge comes stocked with three "big" nines - the Sherling, Canyon and Loblolly - as well as a nine-hole Short Course.
The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic
If you're in... Portland, Maine
Catch a ballgame at... TK, home of the Portland Sea Dogs, a Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
Play golf at... a host of courses that make Portland an underrated golf destination. In the immediate vicinity, there are two solid modern layouts at Nonesuch River Golf Club, a sporty and well-maintained Thomas Walker design, and Dunegrass Golf Club, a Dan Maples effort. If you want a taste of traditional New England gentility, stay at the Black Point Inn, which grants access to the otherwise private Prouts Neck Golf Club. Venture about 40 minutes south to Kennebunkport and you can play two wonderful throwback courses, Webhannet Golf Club and Cape Arundel Golf Club. Both courses are barely over 6,000 yards from the tips, but they will give you all you can handle - both in golfing challenge and Old World charm.
If you're at... the New Jersey Shore (near Toms River)
Catch a ballgame at... FirstEnergy Park, home of the Lakewood BlueClaws, a Single-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The food - particularly at the Surf Taco stand inside the park - is known as being some of the best in minor league baseball, and you can sit in lifeguard-style chairs in the outfield.
Play golf at... Eagle Ridge Golf Club, a 27-hole layout just minutes from both the ballpark and the ocean. The course was hewn out of an abandoned sand quarry, so if you're assuming there are a lot of bunkers and waste areas, you're absolutely right. Other area layouts of interest include Hominy Hill Golf Course, the famous Robert Trent Jones-designed muni, about 40 minutes north. If you're a member of a private club, you may be able to have your pro set you up at Pine Barrens Golf Club, an Eric Bergstol design regarded as one of central New Jersey's most interesting courses.
If you're in... Pawtucket (near Providence), R.I.
Catch a ballgame at... McCoy Stadium, home of the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox - just call them the PawSox, like everyone else does. But hurry - the PawSox may soon become the ProvSox, as a new stadium is planned for them close by in the Rhode Island capital.
Play golf at... Triggs Memorial Golf Course, the Providence muni originally designed by Donald Ross. It is a thoroughly blue-collar place - a little rough around the edges but a gem nevertheless. For the best public golf in the state, head out toward Newport and play Newport National Golf Club, an open, breezy Arthur Hills layout with some interesting features, including a green with squared-off edges at the par-5 eighth.
If you're in... Dayton, Ohio
Catch a ballgame at... Fifth Third Field, the home of the Dayton Dragons, a Single-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Despite being a lower-level minor league baseball franchise, the Dragons are a smash success in a city normally associated with basketball. They have sold out every game since 2000, so it may be a challenge to get a ticket, but well worth the trouble for the electric atmosphere inside the 7,000-seat stadium.
Play golf at... The Golf Club at Yankee Trace, for starters. Located just south of Dayton in Centerville, it's a Gene Bates design lauded both for the quality of its design and its value. A first-time visitor would never guess Yankee Trace is a municipal facility. The secondary option is Beavercreek Golf Club, just east of Dayton. Those with private club connections should try to get on NCR Country Club, with two challenging Dick Wilson designs on property.
If you're in... the "Quad Cities" (esp. Davenport, Iowa)
Catch a ballgame at... Modern Woodmen Park, home of the Single-A Quad Cities River Bandits. They're the Houston Astros' affiliate, and they carry on a rich tradition of competitive baseball in the region that dates back to the 1870s.
Play golf at... TPC at Deere Run, home of the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic, over on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. Despite being a TPC course, it is not a wallet-killer, with green fees under $100 throughout most of the year. Another interesting option puts you on an island in the middle of the mighty Mississippi River: Arsenal Island Golf Course, which dates back more than a century. As the name indicates, the island on which the course is located has manufactured weaponry for the U.S. Army for decades, though the course is now open to the public, with green fees under $30.
If you're in... Comstock Park (Grand Rapids), Mich.
Catch a ballgame at... Fifth Third Ballpark (there are a lot of Fifth Third Bank branches in the Midwest), home of the Single-A West Michigan Whitecaps, a Detroit Tigers affiliate and the reigning Midwest League champions.
Play golf at... The Mines Golf Course, a fascinating course designed by one of our favorite architects, Mike DeVries. It's a minimalistic, fun muni whose model we'd love to see used elsewhere. A little farther north, Pilgrim's Run Golf Club is ranked among Michigan's best and enjoys a quiet dense-forest setting. It is another excellent Mike DeVries design, and something of an oddity, sporting a par of 73.
The West and Southwest
If you're in... Salt Lake City, Utah
Catch a ballgame at... Smith's Ballpark, home of the Salt Lake Bees, a Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. The stadium is thought to offer the most scenic view in professional baseball, with the snow-draped Wasatch Mountains prominently visible in the distance beyond the outfield fence.
Play golf at... the Johnny Miller-designed Stonebridge Golf Club, which has 27 holes. It plays partly through a corporate park, but the distraction posed by office buildings is offset by views of the aforementioned Wasatch Mountains. Just south of the Salt Lake City metro area is the town of Lehi, home to Thanksgiving Point, another Miller design, which has hosted the Web.com Tour and which measures longer than 7,700 yards from the tips. Yes, it's at elevation, but still...
If you're in... Las Vegas, Nev.
Catch a ballgame at... Cashman Field, the home ballpark for the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s, a New York Mets affiliate. The team name is a nod to the top-secret government site "Area 51," said to be the home of salvaged UFOs and aliens. The logo on the team's baseball caps? A grey, big-eyed alien. A trip to a 51s game makes for a nice break between casino sessions.
Play golf at... Shadow Creek, if money's little or no object and you want to check it off your bucket list (and you're staying at the right hotels on the Strip). On the more sensible (at least by Vegas standards) end of the spectrum, we really like both courses at Lake Las Vegas: SouthShore Golf Club and the newly-reopened Reflection Bay. If you really want to go all-out and have some connections, play Southern Highlands, an immaculate and stunning late Robert Trent Jones, Sr. design.
If you're in... Colorado Springs, Colo.
Catch a ballgame at... Security Service Field, home of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. As Triple-A stadiums go, it's one of the smallest, offering an intimate atmosphere in a hip town. It is also the highest ballpark in baseball, at more than 6,500 feet above sea level, so expect to see some home runs when you go.
Play golf at... The Broadmoor, the West's stately grande dame resort, with three golf courses and a host of other activities. It is one of our favorite spots to spend time west of the Mississippi, and we're hard-pressed to say definitively whether we prefer the East, West or Mountain Course. Elsewhere (and downmarket) in the Colorado Springs area, Pine Creek Golf Club gets high marks. Creeks come into play on all but three holes, though, so play prudently and bring a couple extra golf balls, just in case.
If you're in... El Paso, Texas
Catch a ballgame at... the $72 million, two-year-old Southwest University Park, home of the Triple-A San Diego Padres affiliate, the El Paso Chihuahuas. Come on - you know you want a hat with that logo on it.
Play golf at... Butterfield Trail Golf Club, which is owned by the city of El Paso but is run like a high-end public course, and delivers on that promise. The Tom Fazio design is one of the best in the state of Texas, and it rivals some of his very best ultra-private layouts. This more than makes up for the fact that it's pretty much the only worthwhile course in town (though we here the Ascarate Park muni, which borders Mexico, is alright). That's not a bad thing, though - if you're in El Paso for any length of time, you'll want to play Butterfield Trail each day.
If you're in... Albuquerque, N.M.
Catch a ballgame at... Isotopes Park, home of the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Triple-A Colorado Rockies affiliate. The funky team name fits the offbeat stadium in a city with plenty of its own eccentricities. Pitchers are not huge fans of the park, as the city's elevation ensures that home runs fly over the fences with regularity. But for spectators, this makes it one of America's most exciting places to watch baseball.
Play golf at... Sandia Resort & Casino, whose golf course tops the list of area options. The Championship Golf Course on University of New Mexico campus is worth seeking out as well, as are the twin-billing of Twin Warriors Golf Club and Santa Ana Golf Club north of the city.
Minor League baseball is an interesting animal - we probably left off your favorite team, so please give them a shout-out (along with your favorite golf courses nearby) below!