NFL football and golf: Top courses of the AFC West

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

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 golf as green fees are often reduced in some cities on game day.

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 West and where our readers are recommending that you play.

Denver Broncos

Top rated on Golf Advisor: A great city for public golf, Denver has a variety of terrain and settings from the foothills west of the city to the flatter layouts inside the city. One of the most popular courses in Denver is Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, a Perry Dye design that plays more than 7,000 yards from the tips. Located just south of Denver International Airport, Green Valley Ranch is the perennial site of the Colorado Open. With its nine-hole, par-3 course and excellent practice facilities, it's also the site of The First Tee of Green Valley Ranch.

Over in the Denver suburb of Aurora are several reader favorites. Murphy Creek Golf Course (originally named The Homestead at Murphy Creek) is a Ken Kavanaugh design that stretches to nearly 7,500 yards. Saddle Rock Golf Course is a Dick Phelps prairie links design with plenty of great mountain views. And Arthur Hills designed Heritage Eagle Bend Golf & Country Club. All three are rate better than four stars.

One of the best municipals in the West is located in Golden (of Coors Beer fame). Fossil Trace Golf Club is a Jim Engh design with all kinds of cool features. The site of an old quarry, much of the old mining equipment still dots the landscape, but even more impressive is the fact that dinosaur fossils are still visible near the course and the par-5 12th, where huge boulders are obstacles for golfers trying to make birdie or par.

There are a lot more courses to like in the area: The Heritage Golf Course at Westmoor in Westminster is a terrific Michael Hurdzan-Dana Fry layout with plenty of views, wetlands and natural prairies. Lone Tree Golf Club & Hotel and Arrowhead Golf Club in Littleton are also favorites among Golf Advisor readers. Or venture over to Castle Rock just outside of Denver and play The Ridge at Castle Pines North and Red Hawk Ridge.

Close to Sports Authority Field at Mile High: Just a few miles from where the Broncos play is one of the most historic golf courses in Denver, Overland Park Golf Course, a William H. Tucker design that opened in 1895. Today it had bentgrass greens and fairways and plays around 6,700 yards from the tips. The original Denver Country Club, Overland Park is the oldest course west of the Mississippi River and costs just $39 to play on the weekends. It even has a 50-station lighted range. Overland Park is one of eight courses in the Denver Parks & Recreation System, which also includes Wellshire Golf Course, a 1926 Donald Ross design and local favorite.

Kansas City Chiefs

Top rated on Golf Advisor: As you might expect there's a nice variety of public courses in the Kansas City area, starting with a terrific muni, Shoal Creek Golf Course. Architect Steve Wolfard designed the course with generous fairways, large greens and strategic bunkering. This 6,950-yard, par-71 course has a high-end, daily-fee feel, as does its sister course, Hodge Park Golf Course, which is a very enjoyable test despite measuring just 5,200 yards.

About eight miles east of Arrowhead Stadium in Independence is another local favorite, Drumm Farm Golf Club, a wonderfully conditioned and scenic Michael Hurdzan design that can play more than 7,100 yards.

Close to Arrowhead Stadium: Just three miles from where the Chiefs play in one of the most boisterous stadiums in the country is Royal Meadows Golf Course, which rates around four stars with Golf Advisor reviewers. Opened in 2003, this Charles Stayton par-70 course is around 6,400 yards. Best of all, you can play it for around $35 or less.

Oakland Raiders

Top rated on Golf Advisor: The good thing about playing golf around Oakland is you also have the entire Bay Area as your playground, which opens up all kinds of options and even varied climates.

One reader favorite is Monarch Bay Golf Club, which not only has the 7,015-yard Tony Lema Course along the water in San Leandro, but also the terrific nine-hole Marina Course, which many golfers like just as much or even better. Just north of Oakland in Berkeley is another affordable favorite, Tilden Park Golf Course, a 6,300-yard, par-70 design that opened in 1938 and was designed by William P. Bell. Or you can check out another historic facility, Lake Chabot Municipal, which has two courses -- the William Lock-designed regulation course that opened in 1923 and the popular short course that opened in 2006.

Of course, if you expand your horizons a little more, there are all sorts of good possibilities on the other side of the bay in the San Francisco area like Presidio Golf Course, Harding Park and The Bridges Golf Club in San Ramon.

Close to Coliseum: There are two golf facilities within three miles or so of the Coliseum, and one of them is rated more than four stars with Golf Advisor reviewers. Metropolitan Golf Links, which is also right next to Oakland International Airport (you can see the runways from the course) and Oyster Bay, is a links-like, wide-open Fred Bliss-Johnny Miller 7,000-yard, par-72 course that opened in 2003. There's plenty of undulation, both in the greens and on the fairways, and a nice smattering of bunkers throughout. And you can play this course, even if you're from out of town, for about $50 or so. The other close option, on the other side of the airport, is Chuck Corica Golf Complex, which has two golf courses -- the North and South. William F. Bell had a hand in designing both courses. Located in Alameda, this parkland facility also has a par-3 course as well as a lighted range with green fees topping out at $42 on the regulation length courses.

San Diego Chargers

Top rated on Golf Advisor: Of all the NFL cities, San Diego arguably has the best golf weather and might have the best collection of public and resort courses as well. You could start with Maderas Golf Club in Poway. Maderas, which was designed by Robert Muir Graves and Johnny Miller, averaged nearly a perfect five stars with Golf Advisor reviewers due to scenery, course conditions and layout. Steele Canyon Golf & Country Club, which has nearly 300 reviews, also ranked near five stars. Designed by Gary Player, this 27-hole facility located in the suburb of Jamul also has a few elevated tees and outstanding course conditions.

Of course if you're visiting and you really want a special experience, head over to San Diego municipal Torrey Pines North and Torrey Pines South courses. You'll probably want to stay at the Lodge to guarantee a tee time, and by the time you add everything up, you could easily approach $1,000 for golf and lodging. But hey, you'll get to play a U.S. Open course as well as the host of the PGA Tour's Farmers Insurance Open. (If you're local, you can play for far less than the visitors' rate of $300-plus.) A little more affordable municipal choice would be Balboa Park, which has an 18-hole championship course and a nine-hole course that both garner four stars on average.

There are many resort choices in the San Diego area, and they all have premium price tags. Aviara Golf Club, for example, is the highly rated Arnold Palmer course at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad. Just down the highway from Aviara is another highly lauded resort, the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, which has two recently renovated golf courses -- the Champions and Legends -- which have hosted PGA Tour and LPGA Tour events. And one my personal favorites, the Fairmont Grand Del Mar and its Tom Fazio-designed Grand Golf Club, would certainly be a great luxury base for a weekend golf/football trip to watch the Chargers play.

Other reader favorites in the San Diego area include the 27-hole Oaks North Golf Course, Oak Glen at Sycuan Resort in El Cajon, Mt. Woodson Golf Club and San Vicente Resort in Ramona, Salt Creek Golf Club in Chula Vista and Sail Ho Golf Course and the short course Colina Park in San Diego.

Close to Qualcomm Stadium: Riverwalk Golf Club is just four miles from where the Chargers play. With 27 holes designed by Ted Robinson Sr., the course is generally in excellent condition with nearly 100 white sand bunkers and an array of picturesque water features -- including four lakes and the San Diego River -- as well as mature stands of palm, oak and eucalyptus trees that frame undulating fairways and excellent greens. Green fees top out at around $80 on the weekend but are considerably cheaper during the week and off hours.

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 West