It is no coincidence that many of the best and most attractive golf courses have a creek running through them. Streams can not only provide a lot of strategy, but they are also aesthetically pleasing.
But why stop there? If you love being in nature, why not spend some time fly fishing? Because wherever there is great mountain golf, chances are there are some great trout streams nearby – but the two sports have more in common than geography. Both are individual pursuits that require patience and skill. Even the movements are similar with a smooth return for best results. It is worth noting that some of the greatest golfers in the world are also famous flycatchers.
I know what you’re thinking: Oh great. That’s all I need, another very expensive and time consuming sport. But fly fishing is not that. For example, all you need is one stick, not 14, and fly fishing doesn’t have to take four or five hours to enjoy. You may not catch anything because trout are known to be wary creatures, but that’s what makes them a challenge. Additionally, as Zen as golf can be, fly fishing in a delirious stream is inherently meditative, except when you’re casting back into a tree branch perhaps. (Note: Fishing licenses are usually required but are easy enough to purchase online.)
There is one of the best golf course and trout stream combinations in greenbrier In White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia. Howard’s Creek, which the resort regularly stocks, flows through The Old White Trail. On a recent trip there in September, I caught two good-sized brown trout along the 13th hole a day after playing the historic course, designed by the architectural father of golf in America, CB MacDonald.
Two of the best things about Howard’s Creek fishing is that it is on the property and the fish are not as capricious when seeing people as those in the outback. There is a fishing shop in the main hotel with experienced staff who can tell you what kind of flies or nymphs are biting (dry flies, which float, are better when there are shadows on the water so the fish can see them, compared to nymphs that are drowning). Guests can go on their own or book two-hour guided tours of the property or three-hour excursions outside the property with rod, reel, tackle and wading provided. There’s even a class that combines an introduction to local craft beer, bourbon, or other spirits.
On the West Coast, there are few places better than Sun River Resort Near Bend, Oregon, for golf and fly fishing. Two rivers, the Big Deschutes and the Little Deschutes, flow through the aptly named Crosswater Trail, the scenic and challenging Bob Cupp design. As in golf (as in The Greenbrier, there are three championship courses and a 9-hole par-3), fly fishing may be better.
With prolific insect holes, central Oregon is usually responsible for record amounts of trout and trout. Combing these two Sunriver amusements is so popular that they even have a name for it: “Flippers and Leather.” The resort offers one-and-a-half and three-hour pontoon cruises directly on the property in Deschutes, although you need your own equipment. Guests can also fish on one of the lakes stored in the Caldera Springs residential resort community.
For those new to the sport, it is best to book a ride through Sunriver’s Hook Fly Shop, which can provide all the equipment and instructions you need. Lots of golfers will play in the morning and then spend the afternoon wading in the Vaal, a catch-and-release river just 15 minutes away. Hook Fly Shop also runs four-hour float trips on the Big Deschutes as well as two lakes in the area. “You get more on the river, and in the lake you get better quality because it grows a little faster,” says Josh White, co-owner of Hawk Fly Shop. “A lot of golfers learn about fly fishing when they come here because it’s so convenient, easy and fun.”
If there is one golf resort where golf and fishing are closely related it is Cedar Grand Inn in Ridgell, Missouri. The Ozarks doesn’t have some great fishing, but the resort is owned by Bass Pro Shops owner Johnny Morris. The lodge overlooks the giant Table Rock Lake, which is famous for its great sea bass fishing. Two of the harbors can accommodate any golfers looking to set off on a boat at one of the best fishing spots around. With five courses, golf is good too, including the first public course by Tiger Woods, Payne’s Valley.
With miles of clear streams, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, about a 25-minute drive down a scenic highway, is the place to go fishing. The resort offers guided tours with all the necessary equipment, as well as a short educational program for beginning flycatchers. The four-hour trips are usually in the morning when the park first opens, so fishing and golf on the same day are not recommended. You can also fish on your own in the park and rent and tackle fishing rods at the General Store in Dogwood Canyon.
Given that fly fishing originated across the pond, it is appropriate to include one from the UK but in Gleneagles In central Scotland, you won’t be catching trout by plane, but salmon. During the fully guided adventure on the River Tay just a short drive from the hotel, guests will learn how to read the water, choose the fly based on river conditions and finally how to hook, play, and land the famous Atlantic salmon. The biggest differences in salmon fishing are the use of larger, more colorful flies and longer rods designed to cover the large rivers that Atlantic salmon love to live in.
After a morning on the river, guests can also enjoy a great lunch inside an authentic salmon catch “both” with stunning views of the river. It is possible to practice fishing and golf on the same day, says country sports director Yuri Jansen, but it is best to separate the two. The popular golf resort, which hosted the 2014 Ryder Cup, has three very prestigious courses.