NFL football and golf: Top courses of the AFC East

NFL football and golf: A look at the courses of the AFC East

Fall, of course, is for football. But it's also terrific for golf: The leaves start to change, the weather cools and the courses generally often look their best. Of course, if you're not a big football fan, game time is often the best time to play.

But if you are a fan -- and your team is playing the early game on Sunday -- schedule an early round, and follow the round with a couple of cold ones in the clubhouse, and watch the game.

Of course, the ultimate would be following your favorite team to away markets and taking your golf clubs. So with that in mind, we've broken down the NFL by divisions. Here's a look at the AFC East and where our readers are recommending that you play.

Buffalo Bills

Top rated on Golf Advisor: The Bills play in Orchard Park, N.Y., just east of Buffalo, which means there's ample golf in the area, including across the border in Canada. Among the favorite daily fees in the area is Elma Meadows Golf Club, a 1959 municipal that plays around 6,300 yards to a par 70.

At $20 during the week and $24 over the weekend, it's very affordable. Also rated highly by our readers is the Fort Erie (Ontatio, Canada) Golf Club, a par-57 executive course just across the border. And Cazenovia Golf Course is another short but popular course in the Buffalo area. Opened in 1920, this south Buffalo course is a nine-hole par 36 that measures 3,130 yards and is less than seven miles from Orchard Park.

Close to Ralph Wilson Stadium: Harvest Hill Golf Center is just a couple miles east of the stadium. This public course features an affordable, 18-hole, championship layout that can play 7,200 yards, as well as a three-hole family course. Also in Orchard Park is Bob-O-Link Golf Club, an 18-hole, par-54 course great for beginners and less-skilled players.

Miami Dolphins

Top rated on Golf Advisor: Not surprisingly, among the highest rated courses in the Miami area (the Dolphins play in Miami Gardens, just north of Miami) are the courses at Trump National Doral Miami, which is close to Miami International Airport. The collection of courses at this high-end destination resort include the famed Blue Monster, which was redone by Gil Hanse recently. Owner Donald Trump hopes to someday host a U.S. Open there.

Also scoring high marks by our readers are: Miami Beach Golf Club, a premium daily-fee course originally opened in 1923 and renovated with paspalum in 2002 by Arthur Hills and Steve Forrest; The Biltmore in Coral Cables, a 1925 Donald Ross design restored beautifully by Brian Silva in 2007; Melreese Golf Course at International Links in Miami (readers say Melreese makes great burgers); the Mark McCumber-designed, par-62 Seven Bridges at Springtree Golf Club in Sunrise; and a little farther up the coast, but well worth the drive, the Palm Beach Par 3, another all-paspalum course, renovated by Raymond Floyd.

Close to Sun Life Stadium: Appropriately, the Senator Course at Don Shula's Hotel & Golf Club is less than six miles from the stadium. Located in Miami Lakes, southwest of Miami Gardens, the recently renovated and popular Senator Course also averaged better than four stars from Golf Advisor readers (there's also a highly rated executive course at Shula's).

Other courses close by include the 36 holes at the now municipal Country Club of Miami, which has two courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and used to play host to a PGA Tour event.

New England Patriots

Top rated on Golf Advisor: The 2015 Super Bowl champs play their home games in Foxboro, Mass., which is about 30 miles southwest of Boston, halfway to Providence, R.I. That opens up a lot of good public golf from Rhode Island to the Cape. Fairly close to Gillette Stadium is Wentworth Hills Golf & Country Club, a 6,200-yard par 71 that's about 10 miles away. It garnered an average of just more than four stars from our readers.

Best of all, green fees are just $45 on weekends, and you can play nine holes for $30. One of the coolest venues you can play, though, is Granite Links Golf Club in Quincy, Mass. on the way back up to Boston. Also, rated over four stars, it's 27 holes that John Sanford crafted out of an old quarry and landfill. Conditions are immaculate, views are spectacular and the public has limited access to this semiprivate club.

Also closer to Boston, you might want to check out the highly rated Braintree Municipal, which opened in 1945. Or, for a really nice nine-hole experience, Weathervane Golf Club in Weymouth, Mass. or Sassamon Trace Golf Course in Natick, Mass. are both excellent choices.

Closest to Gillette Stadium: Just a couple of miles from where the Patriots play their home games is Foxborough Country Club, a semiprivate Geoffrey Cornish design that opened in 1960. Playing 6,849 yards from the tips, this all bentgrass course is open to the public as well as members.

New York Jets

Top rated on Golf Advisor: The Jets don't actually play in New York City but on the other side of the Hudson River in East Rutherford, N.J. And while there is plenty of top-notch old private clubs in the New York area, there are some good public and resort courses not too far away as well.

Some of the highest-rated golf by Golf Advisor readers include the six courses at Crystal Springs Resort, which is in Hamburg, N.J., about 42 miles northwest of the stadium. The resort features courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., George Fazio, Robert von Hagge and Roger Rulewich, who designed Ballyowen Golf Club, which rates well above four stars. A little closer to the stadium are a few shorter courses that rate four stars or better -- Pinch Brook Golf Club in Florham Park, N.J.; Kissena Park Golf Course, a 1934 John Van Kleek design; and the new nine-hole Skyway Course at Lincoln Park West in Jersey City.

Close to MetLife Stadium: Hendricks Field Golf Course in Belleville, N.J. is just seven miles from the stadium and rated four stars by Golf Advisor readers. This 6,200-yard, par-70 course is a 1929 Tom Bendelow design with wide fairways and good conditioning, and it's part of the Essex County Parks Department, which has two other tracks nearby -- Francis Byrne Golf Course in West Orange, N.J. and Weequahic Park Golf Course in Newark, N.J.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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NFL football and golf: A look at the courses of the AFC East