Even with your broken stroke, these courses—and a camera—guarantee great shots.
Though it was probably a farmer who coined the phrase, “it’s like finding a needle in a haystack,” golfers are certainly a group that can relate. Those of us who extend the golf season well into autumn have all suffered the indignity of a well-struck drive that finds the fairway but comes to rest under a blanket of fallen leaves. The resulting search is often as futile as the farmer’s. According to the USGA, this ball is lost if it cannot be found after a five-minute search—even if you know it’s somewhere in the middle of the fairway. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had the USGA invite me to dinner, drive me to the airport, or feed my dog when I’m on vacation. But my friends have. That’s why friends cut each other some slack and invoke “The Leaf Rule,” an unofficial but undoubtedly welcomed bylaw. Simply stated, if your shot is bounds (and not in a hazard) but hidden by the leaves, you can drop another ball where the first one most likely lay and play on without penalty. This little get-out-of-jail-free card is more than a salve for a frustrating situation. It removes an excuse to shelve the clubs until next season. It allows you to play without fear. Instead of cursing the accumulation of leaves, you’ll delight in nature’s brilliant color scheme. So, get out to these courses where the views are majestic and the golf is grand. Just make sure to bring some friends along. Sky View Golf Club, Sparta, N.J.
Fall Guy: Joe Kelly, general manager/PGA professional
Best Time of Season: “I think the optimal time is the first two weeks of October.”
Best Time of Day: “Early morning or mid to late afternoon. When the sun is lower, it tends to enhance the colors.”
Best Vantage Point: “There are two spots that are particularly good. The ninth and 18th tees are side by side and if you look straight to the north from there you can see through a valley into a mountain range. On a clear day you can see about 30 miles north. The other spot would be from the height of our fourth hole, a par-5 with a big drop to the green.”
Best Views: “From the ninth and 18th, you can see the Hamburg Mountains which are tree-lined and the colors are spectacular. If it’s a clear day, you can see the monument at High Point State Park, which is at the very tip of New Jersey. From the fourth hole, you’re looking south toward the Fox Hollow Lake. It’s off in the distance and heavily tree-lined, but it’s great to see the colors as a backdrop to the lake.”
Best Way to Contact: skyviewgolf.com; 973-726-4653 Bear Brook Golf Club, Newton, N.J.
Fall Guy: Elliott Chick, general manager
Best Time of Season: “We tend to be a week or two behind the New England States but not so far behind like southern New Jersey because we’re in the mountains. The second week in October is the optimal time to come; there’s usually 70 to 80 percent coverage.”
Best Time of Day: “Sunset or sunrise. I’m not a midday person because the angles aren’t there and I think sunset and sunrise are the best times to view any type of scenery.”
Best Vantage Point: “Anywhere on the 12th tee, 15th tee or 16th fairway.”
Best Views: “From these spots you overlook two mountain ranges and down into the Delaware River Valley. You can see bears, deer and plenty of wild turkeys. The bear come out of hibernation in the spring to look for food.”
Best Way to Contact: bearbrookgolf.com; 973-383-2327 Southmoore G.C., Bath, Pa.
Fall Guy: Jim Muschlitz, director of golf
Best Time of Season: “The first week in October to the third week is probably the best time.”
Best Time of Day: “Early morning and late afternoon. The sun reflects off the leaves almost like they’re being lit by a spotlight.”
Best Vantage Point: “The 5th green and 6th tee, are our highest points, so, looking south you get a great view of the course and the trees. Also, if you look north, you see the Blue Mountains. On holes 7 and 16 you hit out of a chute, so you’re surrounded by trees there, too.
Best Views: “Once the leaves start dropping and the trees thin out, you can see Chapman’s quarry on the 4th and 14th tees. It’s a nine-acre quarry that’s only about 100 yards away from the course, but most people don’t know it’s there because the trees usually block it. We’re actually trying to route the golf course to incorporate it into the design.”
Best Way to Contact: southmooregolf.com; (610) 837-7200 Split Rock Golf Club, Lake Harmony, N.J.
Fall Guy (Gal): Shelly Lutz, director of golf
Best Time of Season: “Normally, it’s the last week in September to the first week of October. But, this year has been so dry that I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. There is a little bit of color and a few leaves are on the ground but there is usually a lot more.”
Best Time of Day: “Any time of day is fine, but you want to get out there before 5 p.m.”
Best Vantage Point: “All the holes are great because we’re all trees, but No. 11 is probably the best. There are some houses but mostly the North Course is all trees and there are some beautiful vistas.
Best Views: “From the eleventh, the view is pretty much all trees. There are a few buildings in the distance, but you’re mostly seeing the mountains and the trees. You can also see bear, deer, skunks and fox that tend to come out this time of year.”
Best Way to Contact: splitrockresort.com; 570-722-9111 Center Valley Club, Center Valley, Pa.
Fall Guy: Larry Wise, president/general manager/PGA professional
Best Time of Season: “What affects the timing most is the frost. If you have an early frost the trees respond by going into dormancy. And that’s usually within a three-week window. We peak out around the same time as the Poconos; they’re maybe a week or two earlier than us. But my best guess would be the third week of October.”
Best Time of Day: “Personally, if the weather is good. I like to see it in the morning when the sun is coming up; you can see the sun and the shadows. Conversely, when the sun is setting you can really see the shadows and the colors. Early morning and late day is ideal.”
Best Vantage Point: “Well, our front nine doesn’t have trees because it’s Scottish links style. All of our foliage is on the back nine. But, you can see the entire south side of South Mountain from the front nine and from the ninth green, 10th tee and 18th green; they open up to the mountainside and you can see west and north.
Best Views: “The view of the surrounding area are more eye catching than the course itself; the views of South Mountain, which runs east and west just south of Allentown and Bethlehem. The golfers don’t normally see them, but we have a lot of deer out here. We have a lot of geese, a white swan, blue herons and a lot of little critters like raccoons and such.”
Best Way to Contact:
610-791-5580 Whitetail Golf Club, Bath, Pa.
Fall Guy: Chad Kulp, general manager
Best Time of Season: “It depends on the year we’re having, if we’re having a wet or dry year. We didn’t have a super wet season, so I would anticipate the leaves changing a little earlier this year. We’ll start to see it in the first and second week of October.”
Best Time of Day: “Any time of day is great, but of course, mornings and afternoons are very nice when the sun is at a lower angle—especially in the morning if you have a little bit of glistening dew.”
Best Vantage Point: “One of the best is the driving range. From there, you look over the entire Blue Mountain range. The other one would be the 17th tee, looking down across the back nine and the heart of the Lehigh Valley.”
Best Views: “Behind our front nine is the entire Blue Mountain which is amazing to see a good 12 miles away. From 17 on a clear day, you can see across the South Mountain to the Lehigh observatory.
Best Way to Contact: whitetailgolfclub.com; 610-837-9626 Which makes leaves green, masks their presence. When the days become shorter and sunlight is less abundant in autumn, the chlorophyll breaks down and allows the other colors to appear. At the same time, a layer of cells develops where the leaf stem attaches to the tree and gradually severs the tissues that support the leaf. When the tree seals the cut, the leaf is blown off by the wind or falls off under its own weight. When the days of fall are warm, cloudy and rainy, there tends to be less red in the leaves. Trees that are protected by shade tend to be yellow, while those exposed to sun are more reddish in color. Below are a list of colors and the trees that generally produce them. Another good resource is the U.S. Forest Service’s fall color Web site: www.fs.fed.us/r9/conditions/fall_color, and toll-free hotline: 800-354-4595. Yellow:
Aspens; green, white and black ashes; basswood; beeches; birches; butternut; elm, box elder, mountain, silver, striped and sugar maples; mountain ash; poplar; serviceberry; willow; witch hazel; tulip poplars; yellow popular; redbud; hickory Red and Scarlet:
Hornbeam; red, mountain, silver, and sugar maples; black, red, scarlet, and white oaks; sumac; tupelo; dogwood; sweet gum; black gum; sourwood; sassafras Brown and Yellow:
Black and white oak, Purple:
White ash and witch hazel.
Hot Shots: Shutterbug tips Basics
to prevent foiling foliage
Use 200-speed color film if shooting in bright conditions or the more versatile 400-speed. Shoot early and late: the best light occurs an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset. Subject
Early in the season, the scenery will include greenery and you may be able to capture single trees or even leaves undergoing their transformation. In prime season, the brilliant colors make it hard to take a bad shot. In late season, the falling leaves can suggest the approaching winter and may create stark contrasts with trees that have not yet shed theirs. Perspective
Though straight on, eye-level shots may yield great results, experiment with perspective ranging from the worm to the birds-eye view. Lie on your back, your stomach or shoot from behind a tree. Stand on a golf cart to add a few more feet of height (but not when the ranger is around). Composition
Here’s where you can really get creative. A “natural” landscape would frame the elements as they appear in reality—trees at the edges and a level horizon. But you could also shift and tilt the viewfinder to bisect, isolate or unbalance subjects to create a different mood.