Another kind of drive: Golf's roads best traveled

Even if you can't play, it sure is nice to look at golf courses. Here are a few places to do just that.
17-Mile Drive is one of America's most beautiful stretches of pavement. Gawking golfers are especially fond of it.

The drives that fascinate golfers are not only the ones from the tee box, but to it as well. Even if I'm not able to play, merely glimpsing a course from the road gives me a brief hit of that warm feeling golf has stirred as long as I can remember.

Growing up in the suburbs of Hartford, Connecticut, one of the main local roads sliced through the Golf Club of Avon, affording a two-direction look at several of the course's 27 holes. I used to pester my parents to drive down it on the way to errands in town, just to get a visual fix for the game if I couldn't actually play that day.

I still have this habit. On my current travels, I tend to avoid freeways when possible in favor of more local roads, especially ones that afford a glimpse of some course I won't have time or access to play.

Case in point: my May 2019 trip to the Philadelphia area, where I deliberately went out of my way to drive down one particular suburban thoroughfare: Ardmore Avenue. I slowed to a crawl as traffic allowed in order to drink in a bit of the East Course at Merion Golf Club as work on its year-plus renovation project wound down.

The profusion of old private clubs in the Philadelphia area affords drivers several of these opportunities. Good chunks of Philadelphia Cricket Club (W Valley Green Rd), LuLu Country Club (Limekiln Pike, Twining Rd.), Whitemarsh Valley Country Club (Thomas Rd.) and Llanerch Country Club (Steel Rd.) are all visible by car. Just try not to hold up traffic for too long.

If you like driving by golf courses - en route to playing them or not - here are some other roads best traveled.

  1. 17 Mile Drive - Pebble Beach, Calif.
    17-Mile Drive winds its way along the Pacific Ocean, even affording passersby a few stolen glances at the uber-private Cypress Point Club.

    Imagine a local road so enticing to golf fans that there's a fee for merely driving down it. By all accounts, the trip down 17 Mile Drive is well worth the $10.50 toll, which can be applied toward the purchase of food and beverage above $35 (not hard to do) at most Pebble Beach Company restaurants.

    Parlayed with an introductory circumnavigation of Pacific Grove Golf Links' seaside back nine on Ocean View Boulevard and working southward alond 17 Mile, golfers can see parts of (in order:) the Links at Spanish Bay, Monterey Peninsula Country Club's Dunes Course, its Shore Course, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, Cypress Point Club and, of course, Pebble Beach Golf Links. Given all that eye-candy, plus the famous Lone Cypress, it's a great value.

  2. A917, Fife, Scotland
    The A917 runs by the Castle Course at St. Andrews.

    Part of the enduring charm of golf in the United Kingdom is the way in which courses are integrated into the life of so many towns, especially in Scotland. This being the case, several roads afford long looks at golf courses there, particularly in and around St. Andrews.

    If you're heading up to Fife from Edinburgh, you would be foolish not to peel off the A915 after passing both Leven Links and Lundin Golf Club and making the scenic counterclockwise loop up past a rogues' gallery of great links en route to the Auld Grey Toon. You'll get glimpses - either directly or via brief detours - of The Golf House Club, Elie, the nine-hole Anstruther Golf Club, the Balcomie and Craighead courses at Crail Golfing Society, Kingsbarns Golf Links, both courses at The Fairmont Saint Andrews and the Links Trust's Castle Course before arriving in town, where you'll crawl past the University of St. Andrews and the Royal & Ancient clubhouse looking over the Old Course.

  3. State Route 27 Long Island, New York
    Tuckahoe Road, which connects to Long Island's Route 27, is a public road that cuts straight through Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.

    Beginning in Brooklyn and darting almost due east for more than 120 miles, few roads provide easier access to more great golf. Though the road doesn't bring many courses directly into view, it's just a turn or two from several private and public layouts for most of its length.

    Once it darts between the Great Peconic Bay and Shinnecock Bay, however, it skirts both Shinnecock Hills and Southampton Golf Club, though a well-timed turn onto Tuckahoe Road and another onto Shrubland Road afford significant looks at not just Southampton and Shinnecock Hills, but the famed National Golf Links of America as well.

    Venture yet farther east on Rt. 27, past where it narrows down to two lanes, and you'll pass beloved local short Poxabogue Golf Center. And if you go all the way out, you'll be tantalizingly close to Jones family-designed muni Montauk Downs State Park before you reach land's end.

  4. US 31, Michigan
    Grand Traverse Resort & Spa offers three golf courses and provides a shuttle to a nearby casino.

    The western coast of Michigan is home to some of the best summer golf in North America. U.S. 31 begins in the town of Holland and meanders north for 280 miles, joining with Interstate-75 just south of the Mackinaw Bridge. Along the way, it runs through and near several of the state's golf hotbeds, from Grand Haven (the forthcoming American Dunes Golf Club) to Traverse City (The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort, The Club at LochenHeath) and north past A-Ga-Ming Resort to Charlevoix (Belvedere Golf Club, Charlevoix Golf Course, Charlevoix Golf & Country Club) to Petoskey (Bay Harbor Golf Club, Petoskey Bay View Country Club).

  5. Kings River Road - Pawleys Island, S.C.
    Caledonia Golf & Fish Club -- a Mike Strantz masterpiece -- is another stunning display of golf course artistry and a 100-percent must if you are heading to the Myrtle Beach, S.C. area.

    Golf courses dot the Grand Strand, a roughly 60-mile stretch from Pawleys Island, South Carolina, to roughly Shallotte, North Carolina. The main artery here is U.S. 17. Direct looks at golf holes from this road are relatively sparse, but you'll see several entrance signs. Down in Pawleys Island, a detour onto Kings River Road will catch you glimpses of the Founders Club of Pawleys Island, Heritage Club, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, True Blue Golf Club, River Club, Tradition Golf Club and Willbrook Plantation Golf Club.

  6. Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Cruising the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia.

    Nova Scotia's northern island of Cape Breton is rugged and sparsely populated, a perfect recipe for scenic drives. It's also heavily Scottish-influenced and there is a tidy sampling of golf courses. The Cabot Trail is a 185-mile scenic road with a particularly notable section for golfers in the north. From the northeasternmost point in Ingonish, you can admire Stanley Thompson's Cape Breton Highlands Golf Course in the Highlands National Park. From here, the drive takes you inland through gorgeous green mountain ranges of the park until you ultimately arrive on the coastline and head south. You'll pass Cheticamp, where an unsung golf course, Le Portage, hides behind an unassuming industrial park and sits beneath a mountain backdrop. But the main attraction is in Inverness, where Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs have elevated Canadian destination golf with their spectacular layouts along the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    The par-5 7th is a double-dogleg, uphill hole named "Killiecrankie."

  7. Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada
    The Icefields Parkway supplies overwhelming alpine scenery between the golf hotbeds of Banff and Jasper, Alberta.

    This is less a drive past various golf courses than a drive between them. At the southern end is Banff, with its famous Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course and a handful of other layouts in and around town. Then, it's about four hours of some of the most beautiful moutain scenery in the world until you arrive in the mountain town of Jasper, home to yet another classic Stanley Thompson design at the Jasper Park Lodge.

  8. A198 - East Lothian, Scotland
    The A198 in Scotland (middle-right edge of photo) runs through Gullane Golf Club and straight through the town before continuing past Muirfield and on to North Berwick.

    The A198 rivals the A917 for rapid-fire golf-course drivebys in Scotland. It starts with Longniddry, first teasing both that eponymous course and the modern Craigielaw Golf Links. Heading through the town of Aberlady, it makes a right elbow-turn at the entrance to charming Kilspindie Golf Club before a short jaunt along the Firth of Forth's southern shore, eventually emerging out of a wood and onto a breathtaking expanse of links: Gullane Hill. The first course you drive through is the very under-the-radar Luffness New Golf Club, and then parts of all three Gullane Golf Club courses. You won't see much of the courses at Muirfield, Renaissance Club or Archerfield Links, but you will see their entrance ways. North Berwick is the next town heading east, and while the West Links requires a tiny detour, the A198 will take you by a couple holes of the town's East Links: Glen Golf Club.

    What are your favorite golf roads? Share your nominations in the comments below.

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
6 Comments
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How can you not include the drive to Waterville in Ireland around the Ring of Kerry? The course is one of the most remote, beautiful and demanding links in the world. The cliffs, waterfalls and Atlantic ocean always visible make it truly memorable. Clearly superior too many on your list.

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Seeing as we're talking about roads, I'll nominate "Tobacco Road Golf Club"

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Drive down Round Swamp Rd. In Bethpage, LI, NY. and you will drive right through Bethpage State Park, You will drive right past the 2nd and 18th hole of the Green course and then The first hole of the Black Course. A little further up the road and you will pass the difficult 15th hole. I grew up caddying at Bethpage State Park and still 65 years later remember every hole on the historic Black Course. Of course the trees a lot

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Start out in grand junction ,colo. and play Redlands mesa, head south to Devils Thumb, then over to Monticello, Utah , tee it up at Hideout Golf club then head southeast to Farmington, New Mexico and play Pinion Hills. Took my time and enjoyed the views and played some spectacular golf courses.well worth it.
Can’t go wrong with the Big Island (Hawaii). Start Kona Country Club, head North to Big Island Country Club, then a few miles further ,grab your clubs and play Waimea Country Club, then travel South and play next to an active volcano,Volcano Country Club then head to the airport and play Mauna Kea or Mauna Lani before you head home.Great golf destination all on one island

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Route 220 North in Virginia - between Covington and Hot Springs is a beautiful drive regardless of golf - but as your near the Homestead - the Upper Cascades Course is in clear view on both sides of the road - one of the best courses in the world

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Ken, having gone to college not far from there and having made that drive to go to the Homestead a couple times, I agree! Good choice.

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Another kind of drive: Golf's roads best traveled