To many Americans, Independence Day, 2021 will feel especially celebratory. COVID-19 vaccines continue to be administered, lockdowns are dwindling and travel has resumed. Raise your flags and fire up the grill, it is time to celebrate the 4th of July like we're supposed to. Parades, smoked meats, time on the water, and perhaps some golf, too.
This year's Independence Day, from a golf perspective, is also noteworthy. It is the first July 4th that the country's newest patriotic golf course is open and playing here comes with a great purpose. In Michigan, American Dunes reopened this spring with a brand new golf course on the site of the old Grand Haven Golf Club. A project by the Folds of Honor founder Lt. Colonel Dan Rooney, in collaboration with architect Jack Nicklaus, the course pays tribute to our nation's armed forces like nowhere else. In addition to 18 holes of what appears to be a very dunesy and engaging design by Nicklaus, there are also various memorials onsite and plenty of red, white and blue. A 16-room lodge is also planned for 2022 for stay-and-play.
100% of profits at American Dunes benefit Folds of Honor, which provides scholarships to spouses and children of fallen or disabled veterans. At this time, tee times are by request. Civilian rate is $100-150 while active military and veterans are $75-100.
Throughout the country (and even beyond our shores) there are courses with strong American vibes. Here are a few others to celebrate this Independence Day. Do you have a favorite golf course that brings out the American spirit on 4th of July weekend? Let us know in the comments!
The American Club
Quite a chunk of our nation's fixtures can be attributed to the Kohler Co., the American manufacturing company founded in 1873 that remains a staple in our kitchens and bathrooms today. Golfers know about The American Club all too well as the most luxurious stay-and-play in the Midwest. And in 2021? The Ryder Cup matches are set for Whistling Straits this September, where red, white and blue will line the fairways of Pete Dye's Straits Course with the hopes of the cup staying in the U.S.
An icon of the American West
How American does a stay-and-play sound at a historic grand hotel alongside our majestic Rocky Mountains, within view of our prized NORAD defense system, and the Will Rogers Shrine echoing throughout the front range? That's precisely the experience south of Denver in Colorado Springs at The Broadmoor. The 36-hole property features holes designed by Donald Ross and Robert Trent Jones Sr. and was also host of numerous USGA national championships including U.S. Amateurs, the U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Opens. A cruise through the hotel's hallways reveal it's been a favorite stopover for past U.S. Presidents and celebrities. Oh, and Colorado Springs is also the home of Olympic City USA and is the training HQ for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
WATCH: History and the Will Rogers shrine at BroadmoorColorado Trip Dispatch Part I: The Broadmoor
A celebration of military courses
The Department of Defense is one of the largest operators of golf courses in the country, and most of these courses are located on an active military installation, and a large chunk are open to civilians. Many also have patriotic names, from Patriot Golf Course to Medal of Honor Golf Course. All those on base, golfers included, pause in the morning for the daily Reveille and in the late afternoon for Retreat.
Grand History on Mackinac Island
The front porch of one of America's iconic hotels lines adorned with Old Glory for all 660 feet. Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel delivers a taste of the old world on this car-free island. Fort Mackinac was a former military outpost and was the site of two battles in the War of 1812. One of them took place on what is now Wawashkamo Golf Club, a simple but pleasing 9-hole course laid out in 1898.
Land rebirth around New York City
American golf course design has been at its best when developers manage to take used up waste areas and transform them into recreational space. Golf has thrived on top of landfills or brownfields coast-to-coast. It has been done in spectacular fashion outside New York City. Liberty National was created at an unfathomable expense of a reported $400 million, but the end result was a remarkable golf course in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty that hosted the 2017 Presidents Cup and other PGA Tour tournaments.
And perhaps the most famous flag and clubhouse combination in American golf would be found nearby at Bayonne Golf Club, also built on former brownfield.
A visit to Normandy, France
Not all patriotic courses are on U.S. soil. Many veterans and their families flock to the northern part of France to visit the dramatic battle sites and landmarks of World War II. In Normandy, the Omaha Beach Club's seaside course overlooks the English Channel. The opening hole is dedicated to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the sixth green lies near the cliffs of D-Day's Operation Overload on June 6, 1944. A memorial dedicated to the 47 Royal marine Commando and a hidden German bunker can also be explored. | See more on Omaha Beach Golf Club
Heart of America Golf Course
In America's heartland, one of the most all-encompassing and welcoming golf facilities for players of all abilities is Heart of America Golf Course. This Kansas City facility features a 9-hole, par-35 course; a 9-hole par-3 course; a 3-hole beginner course; and even Footgolf and a driving range. Something for every American, indeed.
A trio of Independence Golf Clubs
Three golf clubs celebrate Independence in their names in the U.S. in places from Gonzales, Texas to Independence, Kansas. The most notable however is Independence Golf Club in Midlothian, Virginia. It is home to an 18-hole Tom Fazio design as well as a par-3 course.
A historic military course we hope comes back
As golf booms across the country, a 19th century golf course on a military installation in the middle of the Mississippi River lies in wait. Arsenal Island Golf Course, located on Rock Island near Quad Cities, is one of the oldest courses in the country, dating back to 1897. It went public in 2010 but was closed in 2018 due to budget cuts and failure to find a third-party operator. Local reports, including from the Quad City Times, indicate that search has been renewed. The return of an affordable, military golf course set within America's greatest river would be an American landmark worth celebrating.
Historic escapes near Washington D.C.
Prior to Air Force One, presidential travel was a little more logistical. Grand old resorts within easy distance of the White House would host presidents and other dignitaries. Omni Homestead and Omni Bedford Springs, two resorts with two-century-plus history, were on the rota of presidential visits. Perhaps the most intriguing is The Greenbrier, which had a secret bunker underground to protect presidents from potential nuclear fallout (it was decommissioned in 1995).