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Most beer league baseball players never get an opportunity to challenge the Green Monster at Fenway. There’s a fat chance weekend hoopsters will ever hop on the hardwood at Madison Square Garden and attempt to rain threes. But golf’s a different animal. Amateurs can actually tee it up on a slew of the top shelf courses they see the pros playing on TV. Here’s how.

RELATED: You don’t need to love golf to love these 7 amazing golf resorts

If you time your vacation just right, either three weeks to a month ahead of a PGA tour stop or right after an event, you can experience a course all dolled up in its tournament finery. The grandstands will be set up framing the green complexes for a full on simulation of the inside-the-ropes experience—the only thing missing will be the galleries of fans whooping it up when you nail that 20-foot birdie.

We’ve rounded up eight courses on the PGA TOUR that are prime prospects for your next golf getaway. Don’t let Justin Thomas, DJ, Spieth, Tiger and crew hog the finest fairways of them all. Let the pros follow you for a change.

Photo courtesy of The Old White TPC | The Old White TPC at Greenbrier Resort

Tournament: The Greenbrier Classic, July 5–8

A golden oldie, Old White opened in White White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia at the base of the Allegheny Mountains back in 1914. That’s when men wore plus-four pants and toted hickory-shafted clubs and ladies golfed in long sleeved blouses and ankle length skirts. Course architect Charles Blair Macdonald’s design takes its cues from European masterworks. The 8th hole was inspired by “Redan” at North Berwick, the 13th by “Alps” at Prestwick and the 15th pays homage to “Eden” at St. Andrews.  Re-enact that time when Robert Streb broke his putter on the Sunday of the Greenbrier Classic and was forced to use his sand wedge on the greens for the remaining nine holes. At the Greenbrier, you can arrange to take in the final round of the tournament and then the next morning tee off with the scoreboards still up and the pins in the exact placement they just were for the pros!

 

Photo courtesy of the DeereRun | TPC Deere Run

Tournament: The John Deere Classic, July 12–15

Deere family descendants once raised Arabian horses on this gorgeous tract of rolling Midwestern farmland in Silvis, Illinois, before donating it to the PGA TOUR. Nestled against the ravines of the Rock River, this is where Jordan Spieth’s legend was born in 2012 when he was still a college student at U of Texas; he returned the following year as a pro and won the big check. With green fees starting at $76, less than half what many other big name championship golf courses of its caliber will run you, Deere Run is a sweet deal. If you score a tee time at this Quad Cities institution ahead of the tourney, the only thing missing will be the smoke wafting by No. 17 on pork chop hill and those cute miniature John Deere tractors they use as tee boxes during the event.

Photo courtesy of Kapalua Plantation Course | The Plantation Course at Kapalua

Tournament: Sentry Tournament of Champions, Jan 3-6, 2019

Pure Aloha golf is on display at Maui‘s immaculately kept 7,411-yard par 73 Coore-Crenshaw design, the home of the PGA’s first tournament of the year. You’ve got the majestic West Maui Mountains and the lapping waves of the Pacific Ocean providing a relaxing soundtrack to every shot you hit. There are a plenty of downhill slopes on the fairways so golfers often need to swing to the high side of ‘em to stay in play.  When you get to No. 12, a 433-yard par 4, unleash your inner Dustin Johnson and attempt to rocket your tee shot all the way to the green. DJ belted one at the 2018 Sentry Tournament of Champions that rolled a foot shy of the cup.  The course will undergo an extensive multi-million dollar enhancement beginning in February of 2019 which calls for the resurfacing all greens, renovating every bunker, and re-grassing fairways and roughs.

Photo courtesy of Mike Dojc | TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course

Tournament: The Waste Management Open, Jan 31– Feb 3, 2019

Designed by Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf, the Scottsdale Princess Resort’s beguiling neighbor unfolds over primo Sonoran Desert real estate at the base of the McDowell Mountain range. Tell a buddy to crank up their wireless speaker when you get to the par-3 16th, the loudest hole in golf. It takes crews two months to set up the triple decker grandstand that holds 20,000 raucous golf fans that whoop it up all tourney long—forget polite golf claps and ‘atta boy fist pumps: In this dialed up golf thunder dome, fans are encouraged to scream, howl, shout and even boo to their hearts delight (even during backswings). Rehash your round’s highlights at the rum bar at Toro in the clubhouse. They carry the largest collection of the spirit in the valley with over a hundred varieties to sip. If the selection proves daunting, the establishment’s Rum Princesa can hook you up with a tasting flight. The restaurant’s swanky patio also offers views of the action on the 18th green.

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Photo courtesy of Pebble Beach Company | Pebble Beach

Tournament: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Feb 7–10; and the U.S. Open, June 13–16,

This is hallowed golf ground, a slice of California heaven whose manicured green carpets have been walked by not just the game legends, but also every Hollywood star with a handicap. The green fee at Pebble will set you back $525, but the sticker shock doesn’t stop the crowds of golfers who dream of playing this storied course at least once before they hit that 19th hole in the sky. Pebble Beach has hosted a PGA Championship, five U.S. Amateurs, and five U.S. Opens with number six coming in 2019. There’s seven seaside holes including No. 7, one of the most quintessential short par 3’s in golf, playing a mere 106 yard. The ole “everything breaks to the ocean” rule of thumb is hard to apply on this famous green where crashing waves are all around you.

Photo courtesy of Mike Dojc | Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass

Tournament: Players Championship, March 14–17, 2019

Golfers of all stripes brace with trepidation when they settle into the tee box on No. 17 at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass near Jacksonville, Florida. This is it, the island green that routinely thrashes leaderboard topping dreams—at this past year’s tourney, 53 balls sunk into the surrounding waters. It’s the Freddy Krueger of golf holes where double bogeys are easy to honestly come by. From the moment you tee off your round, the countdown begins and the dastardly island looms as large as the inevitable twist in an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Pro golfer Mark Calcavecchia once compared the Players Championship’s serial round killer to an afternoon appointment for a root canal.

Photo courtesy of Mike Dojc | Copperhead at Innisbrook

Tournament: Valspar Championship, March 21–24, 2019

A staple of the TOUR’s Florida Swing, you really need to uncoil off the tee to score well on this pine-framed beauty near Tampa. A giant copper colored snake rattles golfers nerves as they approach the course’s famous trio of finishing holes, “The Moccasin,” “The Rattler,” and the namesake “Copperhead.” Your scorecard may need a shot of anti-venom after braving this coldblooded stretch that even plays havoc with the pros’ games. No. 16 is particularly terror inducing.  The 475-yard par 4 is often shortlisted as one of the PGA Tour’s most dastardly holes. From the tee box you shoot towards a tight fairway that curls around a lake to the right with trees on the left. It then constricts and gains elevation toward the green. Long hitters can carry the water, but the rest of us will have to muster a controlled fade to keep the ball on the turf.

Photo courtesy of ATT Oaks Course | AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio

Tournament: Valero Texas Open, April 4–7, 2019

Everything’s bigger in Texas including their championship golf courses. This buckaroo’s generous fairways, cavernous bunkers and fast rolling greens, some with condo sized square footage, sprawl over 7,522-yards of San Antonio Hill Country splendor. The Greg Norman design with Sergio Garcia chipping in as a consultant is pretty swale heavy with artful depressions lurking around many of the green complexes leading to plenty of thought-provoking approach shots. No. 16 gives you something you don’t see every round—there’s a bunker smack dab in the middle of the green forcing golfers to aim at a specific section depending on the flag placement.

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Mike Dojc

Mike Dojc

Professional golf pundit and globetrotter Mike Dojc has slung copy for Nike, AAA, Geico, Maxim, Esquire.com, Atlanta Magazine, Score Golf, Golf Canada, ClublLink Life, Inside Fitness, Fatherly, Toronto Star, Globe & Mail and many other outlets. His YouTube comedy channel Slinging Birdies will leave you in stitches.

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