Course Reviews – Carolinas
A dreamy experience –
Mt. Mitchell Golf Club
Compiled by Carolina Golf Journal Staff
Just imagine going to your favorite golf course on a cool spring afternoon and stepping onto a beautifully groomed green of bent-grass and playing on that surface all day. Wake up! After the club had you removed, you would still have a pleasant moment in your mind in hopes of finding something close to that dream.
What if that dream came true and you find a golf course that is wall-to-wall bent-grass. This beautiful mountain course sits alongside the pristineSouthToeRiverin a high valley at 3000-feet in the Pisgah National Forest with a backdrop of the highest mountain east of theMississippi River–Mt.Mitchell.
Just a five-minute drive off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Western North Carolina near Burnsvilleis Mt. Mitchell Golf Club.
“We’re at 3,000 feet and the mountain range in front of the golf course rises very dramatically another 3,600 feet in elevation as the crow flies,” said co-owner Jim Floyd. “It makes for a very dramatic scene. The scenery is so good and the contrast with the traps and the green grass is pretty impressive.”
Mt. Mitchell Golf Club is wall-to-wall bent grass, creating a course with a lush look and soft feel most of the golfing season, running from April to mid-November. The Fred Hawtree design course, despite its altitude, will play a bit longer than its 6,495 yards from the tip because of the bent-grass softness.
“It makes for a great fairway surface and most of the time you can play the ball down,” Floyd said. “We think it makes the golf more enjoyable. The golfers know they have good conditions when they come here.
Normal summertime morning temperatures range between 55 and 60 degrees during golf season, with daytime temperatures consistently around 80 degrees. For spring and fall play, the weather requires a sweater till mid-morning. This mild climate produces blooming wild flowers from March to November. It has been said that this is where “springtime spends the summer.”
The front nine was built on an old cow pasture with meandering creeks and open areas. The back nine though wanders along the South Toe River, with occasional crossings at the signature 14th hole and again at the 15th. Trees shade the margins of the fairways, and there’s never a sense of any homes present at all, all being tucked way back in the trees – truly one of the most serene settings in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains.
The feature hole on the front side is #6, a 170-yard par-3 that offers a straight-on view of the towering mountain range as you tee it up. “Even though that hole is flat you really get a feel of being in the mountains,” Floyd said.
The back nine’s best hole is also the most difficult on the course, the 450-yard par-4 14th. Golfers must hit a drive far enough to get around the corner, then face a second shot over the South Toe River to a green guarded by two large bunkers
Waiting to tee off at the par-3 #2 offers an opportunity for many golfers to feed the many trophy-sized rainbow and brown
trout in a deep hole right next to the 2nd tee with packets of food purchased in the pro shop.
Running along 2-miles of the South Toe River, Mt. Mitchell Golf Club and the development added a catch-and-release program for trout fishing five years ago with permits for one day ($25) or three days ($50) sold in the pro shop. Anglers must supply their own fly rods. Trout as large as 28 inches have been caught in the river.
“We’re looking for true sportsmen who like catch-and-release,” said Floyd. “Some guys will golf in the morning and then fish in the afternoon, or vice versa. It has become quite a treat for people to come and do this.”
The beauty factor at Mt. Mitchell Golf Club is elevated up a notch or two from mid-to-late October when the peak fall leaf season hits its stride.
“This is a great spot to be in the summer time because it is cooler than places likeCharlotte,RaleighandAtlanta, but the fall is a special time,” Floyd said. “Its fun for us to see in early October the colors changing up high because it is so visible, and then the colors just work their way down the mountain and eventually get to the golf course. It doesn’t get much better than Mount Mitchell Golf Club for a three-week period in October.”
Mt. Mitchell Golf Club offers two or three day golf packages with on-site lodging in new condos or homes along with discounted rates for golf. Normal weekday rates are $58, while weekend green fees are set at $88.
Mt. Mitchell Golf Club is pleased to welcome back Chef Teo as head chef. In addition to bringing his unique culinary style, he will be expanding dining hours in the Mt. Mitchell View restaurant. You can also enjoy great views of the course and Mt. Mitchell in Hawtree’s Pub where you can relax after a round with your favorite beverage.
An excellent golf course, comfortable lodging, professionally prepared food, a side trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the top of 6,684-foot Mt. Mitchell and a climate billed as “where springtime spends the summer” is not a dream it’s … Mt. Mitchell Golf Club.
For information on your trip to the mountains contact Mt. Mitchell Golf Club at 828-675-5454 or logon at www.mountmitchellgolf.com
National Golf Club – Southern Pines
New Greens and Other Renovations
Draw Rave Reviews
By Sam Smith
After celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2009 the management at the National Golf Club in Southern Pines felt that another renovation was needed to compliment the original design by Jack Nicklaus in 1989. And based on rave reviews from members and guests alike, since the reopening in March of this year, the changes have been well-received.
“The bottom line is that everything is similar to what we had, but better,” Course Superintendent Dave Bowbliss said. “Rebuilding the greens has made the course more playable. This is a course that Nicklaus built in 1989. With today’s modern game, it needed an update, and I think we succeeded in that plan.”
The completely new greens are A1/A4 bent grass, a heat-tolerant strand of bent grass that marks a significant upgrade from the Penncross bent used when the course debuted in 1989. The project reclaimed the larger footprints the greens had lost over time from encroaching Bermuda grass. It also opened up areas for pin placements that haven’t been available for years.
Updates to the course also include softening a heavily contoured elevated green on the first hole, the removal of trees surrounding the par-4 11th hole, and reworking the bunker face in front of the green on 16.
The first green has been restored to its original size and the edges and contours have been softened for a better playing surface. The changes have created additional pin placements, some of which will challenge even the best players if their approach is in the wrong place.
You never like to hear of trees being removed, but in the case of the par-4 11th hole at National Golf Club the decision was a good one.
“Without the dense trees surrounding the green, we were able to not only open up the green for more sunshine and better air circulation, but we added two or three new hole locations,” said National’s General Manager Ken Crow.
The short par-4 16th hole also has taken on a different look following the renovation and providing a better line-of-sight approach to the green.
“We reworked the bunker face in front of the green,” Crow said. “Before, you could only see about half of the pin from the fairway. Now you can see almost to the bottom of the flagstick. We also extended the green to bring back some of the architectural structure.”
In assessing the course overall, the front side represents the power game, particularly the first five holes. The theme: Big doglegs, strong slopes, carries over water hazards and shots to steep, elevated greens.
The back nine fits more of the local Sandhills terrain, with large waste bunkers, narrow fairways and subtle turns, and it demands more placement than power.
Nearly all the doglegs slide right and reward a power fade, which was Nicklaus’ signature shot. Most of National’s holes can look scary from the tee box. Some are tougher than others, naturally, but the first five holes are clearly the toughest stretch on this layout. The names say it all: The Knoll, Doon Carry,Narrow Way, Dogwood Bend and Batten’s Wall.
“The first five holes make you feel like, gosh, this is work,” says Tom Parsons, Director of Golf at National. “But it softens up a bit. The difference is that from the different tee boxes, there’s plenty of room, and it’s not too visually intimidating.”
Jack Nicklaus offers an early message, “It’ll hurt if you aren’t ready to play. You better hit a couple practice balls with every club in your bag and focus hard when you step to the tee at National.”
The National plays to a par of 72 and ranges from 5,378 yards to 7,122 yards. The slopes from the whites and tips are 132 and 137, respectively.
For information on National Golf Club “Stay-and-Play packages” visit www.nationalgolfclub.com or call 800-471-4339.
Golf in the Boone “High Country”
Boone Golf Club and
Red Tail Mountain Shine
By Sam Smith
The High Country aroundBoone,NCis blessed with great golf courses, many of which are on the Top 15 list of courses in the state. Names like Elk River, Grandfather, Blowing Rock, Linville, Linville Ridge,BeechMountain, Diamond Creek and Hound Ears. For the general public the problem is that these top ranked courses are all private golf or country clubs.
The Linville Golf Club, a Donald Ross jewel, allows guests of the Eseeola Lodge to play, while the Beech Mountain Club has been entertaining the general public along with their member with a “stay-and-play” arrangement this year. But for the others listed above, you better have a very good friend as a member or know someone with good connection to get a shot at teeing it up there.
More than a hand-full of public golf courses serve the majority of the golfers in the Boone High Country, ranging from family owned tracts to resort and community run facilities. Two of these golf courses have leadership qualities family-style.
One of the “must play” standards is the Boone Golf Club, a 1959 Ellis Maples’ design that has had some revision over the years, but still remains one of the best and maybe the busiest public golf courses inWestern North Carolina. The addition of an expanded practice facility and a fourth set of tees for the senior players has improved the growth of the 60-year old course that now is a comfortable challenge for golfers of all levels.
As you exit Hwy 321 into the driveway of the Boone Golf Club, you will first notice the rolling hills that are a common sight in this mountainous region. However, once you are on the course it is almost surprising that elevation changes are not one of the factors that you have to deal with. Although the Boone Golf Club sits a stone throw away from the Blue Ridge Mountain Region, it is a rolling and relatively flat course.
The most challenging elevation change that you will deal with is choosing a beautiful view to take in when looking from the clubhouse perched high atop the golf course. You can choose from the mountains off in the distance, a beautiful manicured golf course, or the hustle and bustle of a small North Carolina town.
One other factor at Boone Golf Club can also be found in the club house, popular Golf Director Tom Adams. He has completed his 18th year at Boone following 19-years as the head golf professional at the Hound Ears Club.
“I have been fortunate to spend my entire career at home in the mountains,” he said. “I have never wanted to be anyplace else.”
To play Boone Golf Club make your tee times by calling 828-264-8607.
Interesting enough, Tom’s older brother Sam is the Head Professional at the Red Tail Mountain Golf Club just 30 minutes up Hwy 421 north of Boone inMountain City,TN.
A former PGA Tour player, Sam is one of only eight left-handers, and the first in 1973, to ever win a PGA Tour event. Sam has been the Red Tail head pro since the course broke ground on construction in 1979. Play started in 1982.
The Red Tail course was formerly known as Roan Valley Golf Estates before new owners took over in 2004. The burst of the real estate bubble put the Ellis and Dan Maples collaboration back in the hands of the financial institution in 2009.
Golfers expecting the worst for the golf course have been anything but disappointed, as Adams and his staff have kept the course in great shape and the number of golfers has remained steady, but not heavy as it should be based on the layout.
“They’ve given us an ample budget so the course is in good condition and our players appreciate it,” saidAdams. “There’s been plenty of interest and some offers but in this buyers market the offers haven’t been what the sellers are looking for.”
After starting on the first four holes in the Valley below the clubhouse the par-72RedTailMountainoffers a true mountain course experience. An impressive 400 feet of elevation change allows every hole to offer a unique challenge, spectacular mountain vistas and dramatic backdrops.
To get more details on the Red Tail Mountain Golf and tee times call the Red Tail Clubhouse at (423) 727-7931.
So for two excellent places to play golf in the Boone “High Country”, join the Adams family at Boone Golf Club orRedTailMountain. You will not find Lurch, Uncle Fester, Morticia or Thing, but you will find Tom and Sam Adams ready to give you a great day of golf on two public courses that are “standouts” among the peaks of theBlue Ridge Mountains.
Kiawah’s Ocean Course:
A Beauty and a Beast for Golfers
By Bob Spear, Re-printed from The State, Columbia, SC
To be labeled with “potential” is, as Dickens would write, the best of times and the worst of times.
Deliver to expectations produces the obvious reaction. Of course he did; he had such great “potential.”
Fall short and the critics howl and talk about what might have been. Too bad; he had such great “potential.”
Imagine, then, the challenge that faced architect Pete Dye in August 1988. The owner pointed to a piece of land sandwiched between theAtlanticand saltwater marshes, and said he wanted a golf course. The designer loved the property and its great “potential.”
Oh, and by the way, the owner added, the Ryder Cup will be played on that course … in three years. Think about that — the Ryder Cup in three years on a golf course still in the architect’s mind.
Nevertheless, Dye accepted the task, overcame a visit from Hurricane Hugo and delivered to potential — and perhaps beyond — on schedule. The Ocean Course made its debut on the world stage, and one of the most memorable Ryder Cup competitions assured its legacy.
The golf world will drop in for another visit in August 2012 for the PGA Championship. The tournament comes with a couple of guarantees: the wind will blow and the Ocean Course will win again. With help from Mother Nature
Golf Magazine’s biennial rankings of courses, and the Ocean Course occupied its usual prominent place. The firstSouth Carolinalayout on the list, the Ocean Course came in 27th nationally and 45th worldwide. Given the challenges golfers faced in the 1991 Ryder Cup, the Ocean Course’s reputation for difficulty needs no embellishment. One publication ranks it the toughest test in theU.S.
But one of the beauties is the multiple tees make the course playable and enjoyable for golfers of all abilities — if they check their egos with the starter and play the yardage suitable to their skills. A fore-running for the PGA’s campaign to “Play Forward”
The PGA Championship will be set up in the 7,600-yard range, a distance worthy of the world’s best players. Other tees range from 5,327 yards to 7,356.
“Over the years, Pete Dye has refined the course,” Roger Warren, president of Kiawah Island Golf Resort, said, “but the skeleton and heart are still there.”
Notable changes are grassed-in areas and firmer bunkers to prevent plugged lies, and longer tees on the par-3 14th and par-4 18th. A shorter tee on the 12th provides the option for a drivable par-4. Mother Nature has made some changes with the wind continually reshapes dunes and can play havoc with sand.
The wind increases the challenge. Generally, golfers will play nine holes into the wind and nine with the wind. If a weather front comes through, mid-round adjustments will be required.
“What we will face this year is setting up the course for all-day play in the PGA Championship compared to four matches at a time in the 1991 Ryder Cup,” said Kerry Haigh of the PGA. “We will work with the weather team in setting up the course, but on the ocean, there’s always a chance the wind can turn 180 degrees during the day.”
The wind turned in the Ryder Cup, presenting a different course from what players had faced in practice. The golfers struggled and the Ocean Course’s reputation grew.
The par-3 17th hole, playing in the 195-yard range, became the focal point of the Ryder Cup and almost certainly will be for the PGA. The area surrounding the hole has become spectator friendly andWarrenexpects up to 10,000 fans to congregate there each day.
“We believe the hole will be a place-to-be, like the 16th atPhoenix, the 17th at Sawgrass,” said Brett Sterba, championship director of the 2012 PGA.
From an elevated tee, No. 17 plays across a lake to a narrow green. Divers once recovered 42,000 balls from the lake, a believable number considering the difficulty the pros experienced on the hole in both the Ryder Cup and 2007 Senior PGA.
But the Ocean Course is more than the 17th. The balance, Dye said, “makes the golf course.”
“Golfers have to shape the ball both ways,”Warrensaid. “You can’t get in a groove by just hitting a draw or a fade on every hole. You have to work the ball, and the course give you options.”
Haigh liked the “exciting green complex” on No. 11, which has been altered over the years and now has a large swale 6-8 feet below the putting surface. “That creates choices of how to play the shot and also increases the challenge,” he said.
The sand base is a plus that architects seldom have the opportunity to work with, Dye said, noting the ball reacts differently and greens can be firmed up without using artificial methods.
“One thing different is the paspalum grass on the greens,”Warrensaid. “It doesn’t have any grain and it’s more difficult to read.”
And there is the ambience on every hole. Thanks to his wife’s suggestion, Dye raised all the fairways to provide ocean views — which created picture-perfect scenes and, as an unintended byproduct, increased the course’s challenge by bringing the wind even more into play.
“I have always said that you have three backgrounds — the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Ocean and theAtlantic Ocean– that can make a golf course great,” Dye said, “and at the Ocean course we have one of those three. You have those views everywhere, not just one a few holes.”
The PGA’s stroke play format will be different compared to the match play of the Ryder Cup, and that likely will mean less heroic shots. But if the wind blows — and the wind always blows at Kiawah — the layout will live up to its potential and the Ocean Course will handle the challenge well.
Restoring the Standards
of a Donald Ross Course
Grove Park Inn Getting Rave Reviews
By Sam Smith
Playing golf in the mountains of North Carolina has become a very special time for golfers of all levels. Many older mountains courses have revamped their
original designs to accommodate the low-handicap players by adding length, but maintaining their playability by adding more forward tees for the average
One mountain course, in particular, has made many changes. However, their goal was to rekindle the spirit of its original designers and to give golfers a relaxing, but challenging Blue Ridge Mountain experience.
The golf course at the Grove Park Inn Resort in Asheville, NC opened for play in 1899 as the Asheville Country Club. Several designers were involved in the first course layout including Willie Park, Jr., Herbert Baker and Russell Breeden.
But not until 1924 when Donald Ross added his magical touch to this land beneath the crest of Sunset Mountain did the course, by now owned by the Grove Park Inn, catch the eye of golf travelers and personalities that helped spread the word about the mountain course “you have to play”.
Over the years the Ross design was watered down a bit with changes in the “tortoise back” greens, moving or eliminating bunkers and making tee-box modifications.
But in 2001, the Grove Park ownership made the commitment to a $2.5-million “retro-design” of the old course by Kris Spence of Greensboro, returning it to the original Donald Ross plans of the late 1920’s.
Considered one of the better courses in North Carolina before the restoration, afterwards the Grove Park Golf Course began a string of rave reviews, not only in the Carolinas but nationally as well.
Golfweek proclaimed the course as the “Best Restoration” designation in 2002. Golf Digest listed the course as “One of the ten best courses in the United States that is 100 years old or more” in 2004. In 2005, the North Carolina golf magazine vaulted the Grove Park course thirty seven spots from the previous year, to #32 in the “N.C. Top 100”
Also in 2005, Golfweek magazine included The Golf Course in its 2005 “America’s Best” listings. Currently the Golf Course is rated in the “Top 10” North Carolina Mountain courses, and this year Condé Nast Traveler Magazine included the Grove Park Inn in its “Top 20 Southern U.S. Golf Resorts”.
The 6,720-yard, par 70 layout is a shot maker’s challenge with emphasis on accuracy rather than power.
The players’ ascent from the somewhat flat, yet undulating front nine to the
gentle slopes and sometimes steep inclines and descents of the back nine
playing closer to the Grove Park Inn, all offer spectacular views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.
By today’s standards, the Grove Park Golf Course is on a very small piece of land, only 80-acres, with the holes running parallel to each other. But, the layout doesn’t seem tight or suffocating, with tree lined fairways, golf holes separated by elevation changes, natural areas filled with tall fescue grass roughs or meandering streams that will dissect a fairway bringing water into play on six holes.
The famed rounded greens of Donald Ross are bentgrass now and a little larger and flatter than in the past, but with some of the original contour restored, the approach shots and putts can be just as tricky as the original ones.
Club selection is at a premium due to the famous “false” fronts, making
greens look a little closer than they really are, along with the hidden fairway
and green-side bunkers that are a staple of a Donald Ross design.
No trip to the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa would be complete without an after-golf evening at the Sunset Terrace Restaurant in the main building of the Resort. Watching the sunset, enjoying good company and food may just make you forget about that bunker you tangled with on #16 earlier in the day.
You can pamper yourself and your family with a trip to the famous Grove Park Spa before or after your round of golf. Located below the Grove Park’s stately façade and massive lobby fireplaces, this underground facility covers more than 43,000 square feet of treatment rooms, mineral and lap pools, waterfalls, saunas, steam rooms and men’s and women’s relaxation lounges overlooking the resort’s grounds and golf course.
Located just 2 ½ hours from Charlotte the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa Golf Course is waiting for you to enjoy the changes and the atmosphere. For information, reservations or tee-times call: 800-438-5800 or visit www.groveparkinn.com
Outer Banks Golf
By Bill F. Hensley
North Carolina’s famed Outer Banks has long been one of the nation’s favorite—and most unique—travel destinations. The reasons are simple: rare beauty, a historic past, barrier islands, fishing, swimming, boating, hunting,
sightseeing, hang gliding, bird watching and dozens of other assets. It’s a
“don’t miss” kind of place.
In recent years, another amenity has added to the OBX’s tremendous popularity and has played a key role in attracting visitors. It’s a simple four-letter word: GOLF.
In the past decade a number of fine golf courses have been developed in the area much to the delight of the homefolks as well as the traveling public.
“Golf has become a major part of the Outer Banks mystique,” said golf pro Bryan Sullivan, who grew in the area and played at UNC-Chapel Hill, “and it gives visitors another outdoor activity in this enchanting and exciting destination.”
Currently, there are eight courses in the area centering around Nags Head that offer a variety of seacoast terrain and challenging holes. On occasions, a stiff ocean breeze can make play more demanding over the sand dunes, wetlands, sea grass, and maritime forests.
The courses (and designers) are:
Nags Head in Nags Head (Bob
Moore); Sea Scape, Kitty Hawk (Art
Wall); Duck Woods, Kitty Hawk (Ellis Maples); Goose Creek, Grandy (Jerry
Turner); Currituck Club, Corolla (Rees Jones); Kilmarlic, Powell’s Point (Tom
Steele); The Pointe, Poplar Branch
(Russell Breeden); and the Carolina Club, Grandy (Russell Breeden).
All are open to the public and are open throughout the year.
“The Outer Banks is becoming well-known for its good golf,” offered Kevin Brafford of Greensboro, director of the North Carolina golf panel. “Players of all skill levels can find excitement and challenges on the courses there and enough scenic beauty to last a lifetime.
Believe me, it’s an enjoyable and memorable experience.”
A number of top tournaments have been played on the Banks in recent years, including the North Carolina Open which was played at Kilmarlic in 2004
In addition to golf and a wide assortment of seafood restaurants, the Outer Banks offers a variety of accommodations, including local and chain motels, country inns, B&Bs, cottages and small family establishments. Many are located on the beach and offer spectacular ocean views.
A special favorite is the stately Sanderling Resort and Spa in Duck, a 13-acre beachfront property that is highly regarded for its excellent rooms, cuisine and service. There are 88 spacious and well-appointed guest rooms and suites and five rental homes with sweeping vistas. The resort has two fine restaurants and a full-service spa. Several golf courses are nearby.
For more information on golf, accommodations and things to see on the Outer Banks, contact the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau at 1-877-629-4386 or log on to www.outerbanks.org.
Special golf package information is available by calling 1-800-916-6244 or logging on to www.PlayOBXGolf.com.
Primland Resort Steals
The Hearts of Carolina Golfers
By Sam Smith
From your first shot of the day, to the spectacular final approach high above Meadows of Dan,Virginia, your scorecard will take a back seat to the splendor of the golf experience of the Primland Resort.
Located in the mountains of southern Virginia just across the state line from Mount Airy, N.C., Primland’s Highland Golf Course captures your attention with its thrilling golf and stunning views as you play across mountain ridge tops and over valleys forged by the Dan River.
Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame inductee, journalist Howard Ward of Fayetteville echoed the thoughts of all of those who have played at Primland in one of his recent columns.
“Primland is a real treat for golfers. Architect Donald Steel created a sweeping ridge-top golf experience that is a ‘must-see’ in my book.”
Primland, owned by the Primat family ofSwitzerland, opened the highly acclaimed Highland Course in 2006. Scotsman Donald Steel was one of four architects considered for the job of designing the course, but was the only one that recognized the beautiful mountain-top landscape as the site to build the owner’s “dream” golf course.
The sheer magnitude of the land used for the course is staggering, as almost every hole runs along the natural contour of its own ridge top with only four holes running side-by-side each other on the entire golf course with no houses or obstructions to block the scenery.
“Primland sits on top of the world, enjoying scenic views that stretch the vocabulary and with a design that is very different,” said Steel of his creation. “There is a sense of remoteness about Primland, a sense of escape that is special. Golf courses have been built in every landscape imaginable, but rarely on mountain peaks.”
Primland golf, directed by Head Golf Professional Brian Alley, will certainly test middle and high handicappers, but the holes usually feature enough leeway to allow players to hit driver without holding their breath, though it is imperative to drive the ball well. The natural terrain off the fairways and greens are punctuated by the use of tall fescue grass that will gobble up any errant shots that can usually only be found by stepping on the ball.
Regardless, even less accomplished players will enjoy the scenery, playing on turf “maintained in pristine condition”, hitting from atop the golf course’s numerous elevated tees, and the secluded holes that provide, “a sense of solitary communion with nature”.
The 12,000-acre property atop Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains offers an array of outdoor and indoor activities in addition to golf including hunting, fishing, sporting clays, tennis, ATV, horseback riding, mountain biking and nature trails to a health spa, fitness and entertainment center, dining options and, of course, the ultimate star-gazing opportunity.
The stunning 72,000-square-foot luxury lodge puts this property firmly into the class of top-level golf and sporting destinations. The lodge features 26 guest rooms that offer nine different floor plans – all with exceptional views from the mountaintop retreat. There’s also an observatory for viewing the stars that are usually shining brilliantly in the crystal-clear night skies over the mountains.
The resort’s various accommodations, from the lodge to cottages throughout the property, and its range of activities present nice options for couples, families, buddy trips and even small corporate groups.
The players that have all shared their experiences at Primland with their friends, family and fellow golfers, will never stop talking about the memories that will last a lifetime at a place that seems to be on “top of the world”.
Open to the public – Contact Primland: 866-960-7746 or visit www.primland.com
At Attention and Ready –
By Martin Armes
As proud home of the 82nd Airborne, Fayetteville, NC is America’s first name in defense.
This is truly a city that knows what it means to be ready at a moment’s notice. Lending their support, many of Fayetteville’s finest area golf courses and best hotels have enlisted this fall by offering some of the fastest tee times, best deals and easiest accommodations along I-95 and the East Coast.
Davis Love III, Dan Maples, Ellis Maples, Stewart Gooden and Willard Byrd — some of golf’s top commanding officers — have left their legacy in Fayetteville with a variety of challenging and unique Fayetteville golf course designs that offer every golfer a chance to earn their stripes.
Previously rated the No. 3 hidden gem in the Sandhills by the North Carolina Golf Panel, Anderson Creek is Davis Love III’s first signature course in his native North Carolina. This traditional layout reflects all that is great about golf in the renowned Sandhills – rolling emerald fairways lined with longleaf pines, natural areas highlighted with love grass and perfectly manicured course conditions. The greens feature large roll-off areas and significant undulations that offer a glimpse into the classic Donald Ross architecture seen throughout the region.
A Golf World Readers’ Choice award winner, Bayonet Golf Club at Puppy Creek is a Willard Byrd design sculpted through the rolling hills surrounding Puppy Creek. With five sets of tees, this championship course has been created for golfers of all skill levels. Bayonet also offers the region’s largest and best conditioned practice area, including a 20-acre golf practice facility featuring 10 target greens and a short-game area.
As an original home to the Floyds (Raymond and Marlene) and located just off I-95 exit 41, Cypress Lakes challenges and delights the most avid golfers with championship-caliber greens and prime playing conditions nurtured over the past decade. Stretching from 5,800 to 7,000 yards, Cypress Lakes is an extremely fair course to play with no blind shots to the greens.
The Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau has partnered with GolfSwitch to help plan golf missions to the Fayetteville area, witha custom golf reservation and package builder found on-line at GolfOnTheReady.com
or by calling 800-805-5031. Assisting in the decision-making process, this
cutting-edge Web site includes videos of the participating courses.
Rumbling Bald Resort
on Lake Lure
By Sam Smith
Looking for an all-encompassing golf resort in the Carolinas is not difficult to find. However, finding one with beautiful scenery, comfortable lodging, excellent amenities and two highly-rated golf courses on property is a different story.
Less than two hours west of Charlotte you will find the Rumbling Bald Resort on Lake Lure, with all of the requirements for a family-fun vacation or weekend getaway there for the taking. This timeless 3600-acre resort sits at the base of the towering cliffs of Rumbling Bald, a mountain with its sheer granite face keeping a watchful eye on the happenings below.
Golf Digest readers gave Rumbling Bald Resort’s two beautiful mountain golf courses a 4-star rating in 2010. With Lake Lure’s perfect natural setting for golf, combined with its exceptional climate year-round, you have something truly special.
Bald Mountain is the Resort’s first course, originally built in 1968. The course has four sets of tees for golfers of all levels, and plays at 6,283 yards from the back tees. Natural beauty tree-lined fairways makes this layout the tightest of the two courses, but not uncomfortable. Elevation changes from tees-to-greens add to the appeal of the course, punctuated with streams and ponds. Both resort courses feature bent grass greens and Bermuda fairways. The Course Rating is 70.9 and the Slope Rating is 128.
On the back nine you will find where a scene from the 1987 movie “Dirty Dancing” was filmed at the par-3 16th hole, and a copy of the movie is found in most of the resort lodging, condos and homes.
The Dan Maples designed Apple Valley course has been called one of the most beautiful mountain courses around by Golf Digest’s “places to play.” Opened in 1986,Apple Valley is slightly longer thanBaldMountain, stretching 6,756 yards from the longest of the four tees. However, the mostly tree-lined fairways are more forgiving letting you “grip-it-and-rip” it a little more often. Well positioned re-defined bunkers guard the large undulating greens that will test your “merit” in reading the breaks. The Course Rating is 73.2 and the Slope Rating is 140.
Art Colasanti took over as Director of Golf at Rumbling Bald Resort in 2004 after seven years at Raintree Country Club in Charlotte. An opportunity to be a part of the multi-million dollar renovation at the resort, and share that with golfers from around the world was too much to pass up.
“Seeing golfers and their families enjoying the beauty and the facilities at Rumbling Bald makes my day,” said Colasanti. “We have worked hard to improve the two golf courses by widening fairways, lowering the rough and correcting drainage problems in the traps. Superintendant Matt Lavell and his assistant Brent Ward have done a great job in preparing A he courses for a busy golf season.”
Rumbling Bald Resort is located on the north shore of crystal clear Lake Lure, called by National Geographic “one of the most beautiful man-made lakes in the world” with its 27 miles of shoreline. The ‘Maltese cross’ shaped lake is home to a bevy of water sports – fishing, canoeing, kayaking and leisure boating. The resort has a 120 slip marina, various boats and gear for rent, and a large private beach area is located just below the resort’s main building.
The other outdoor activities at the resort include four swimming pools, miniature golf, basketball, tennis and pickleball (a paddle game played with a waffle ball over a regular tennis net).
The Wellness Center features the Spa & Salon, Fitness Room for individual workouts or daily fitness classes, saunas, steam room and weight room with a large selection of workout equipment, Indoor pool with water aerobic classes and Business Center.
A wedding is a special weekend to cherish forever with family and friends. Whether you are planning an intimate wedding or a grand reception for several hundred guests, Rumbling Bald Resort will manage everything to make this a memorable day for you, your family, and your friends with a perfect setting onLakeLure.
Two side trips within a short driving distance of the resort are:
Chimney Rock is a mere 20 minute drive and offers the most spectacular high altitude view of Hickory Nut Gorge and miles of hiking trails. Cool off in the mist of the Hickory Nut Falls.
The Biltmore Estate, America’s Largest Home, is a short drive away in Asheville, or take the Biltmore Estate Shuttle, which leaves every Tuesday and Thursday morning, returning that afternoon after your tour.
The resort features three excellent restaurants to ensure you don’t have to leave the property to enjoy a great meal.
Legends Bar & Grill at the Bald Mountain clubhouse has seating inside as well as outside overlooking the 9th and 18th greens offers delicious sandwiches and salads along with a full service bar. If you are staying on property, they have pizza delivery service throughout the resort.
The Lakeside Restaurant, overlooking Lake Lure has a delicious menu featuring the freshest seafood, steaks and pasta for lunch and dinner.
Luna del Sol Restaurant at the Apple Valley Golf Course clubhouse is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner serving excellent Italian favorites. Located within the restaurant is the quaint and funky Bedrock Lounge, a “one-of-a-kind” place to visit and enjoy your favorite drink and live entertainment.
Both Lakeside and Luna del Sol restaurants offer theme nights, including a Prime Rib Buffet at Lakeside every Wednesday during the high season.
And if you want something really special for your family or group of golfers, enjoy a three course meal aboard the Lake Lure Dinner Cruise. This leisurely two-hour early evening experience will not only finish your day, but the history of the lake and of Rumbling Bald told by your skipper will plant a lasting vision in your mind of one of the most beautiful spots in all of North Carolina.
So as you can see, playing golf at Rumbling Bald Resort is just part of the trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains at Lake Lure. For more information call 877-868-9940 or visit at www.rumblingbald.com
Blue Ridge Mountain Golf –
By Bill F. Hensley
About twenty years ago, a visiting golf writer wrote an interesting article about golf in Avery County. He began by saying that the county had only two stoplights but four of the best golf courses in the state.
The golf courses he was referring to were Grandfather (#2), Elk River (#7), Linville (#13) and Linville Ridge (#42), all ranked highly in North Carolina as well as nationally. (North Carolina rankings in parentheses)
But things have changed in two decades. There has been steady growth, and the county now has nine golf courses, five of which are nationally prominent. Current tally: golf courses 9, stoplights 7.
In a state with approximately six hundred courses, it is unusual that five of the best are within a ten-mile radius in sparsely-populated Avery County, which is also a hub in the North Carolina Christmas tree industry.
“It just shows that we have our priorities straight,” smiled Mrs. Deka Tate, the former mayor of Banner Elk. “We have become a leading vacation home area.” And that’s not hard to understand considering the county’s immense beauty amid the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, its cool summer breezes, its friendly people, and its elegant but casual lifestyle.
History indicates that the High Country area became popular after visits by Hernando DeSoto in the 1500s, the Moravians in the 1750s, and Cherokee Indians seeking to escape the heat of the lowlands. After the Civil War, troops from both the North and the South returned to the area they discovered and liked during the conflict.
Avery does indeed rule supreme when it comes to golf. Linville, Grandfather, Elk River, Linville Ridge and Diamond Creek rank among the nation’s elite as clubs and as golf courses, playing second fiddle to none. All are private clubs although Linville is open to guests at the Eseeola Lodge.
The county also has a private course at Linville Land Harbor and an executive course—called Mountain Springs—at Grandfather. There are two fine public layouts, Mountain Glen and Sugar Mountain that are challenging, scenic and fun to play. Both are popular with visitors throughout the season.
The Linville Golf Club is the state’s oldest course having been started in 1895. By the turn of the century the club had 14 holes, a full-time golf professional and was hosting tournaments. The old course was replaced in 1926 with a classic design by the famed Donald Ross.
This traditional Ross course is located in a valley beneath Grandfather Mountain and features many changes in elevation. The fairways are severely sloping, and the small greens are fast and slightly undulating. A creek meanders through the course and must be crossed at least 14 times.
“GOLF Magazine” ranked Linville GC 25th in the category of the “Top 100 Courses You Can Play in the U.S.”, and “GOLFWEEK” named it 88th among “America’s 100 Best Classical Courses”.
After Linville’s success more top designers were drawn to the Blue Ridge Mountains to build award-winning courses; Grandfather Golf and Country Club (Ellis Maples) in 1967, Linville Ridge (George Cobb) in 1982, Elk River (Jack Nicklaus) in 1984, and Diamond Creek (Tom Fazio) in 2003.
Nicklaus’ Elk River design deliberately integrates with the natural topography and beauty characteristic of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The meticulously maintained mountain course winds around the Elk River, shimmering lakes and tree-lined fairways.
“This unique property has allowed us to create a truly dynamic golf course with varying golf strategies that are enjoyable for members yet challenging enough for world-class tournament play,” said Nicklaus. “I am pleased that Elk River has been ranked
among North Carolina’s finest and has played host to the North Carolina Open, as well as a number of charity events.”
The Avery county clubs boast a number of distinguished members from all walks of life including corporate CEOs, politicians, athletes, celebrities and business leaders.
That makes golf a huge economic factor with several thousand members and homeowners at the county’s golf course communities. Property within the communities, represent almost sixty per cent of the total tax base. These communities also provide over ten per cent of jobs within the county.
In the small mountain towns of Banner Elk, Linville, Newland and others, visitors and club members find a variety of things to see and do, enjoying a number of fine restaurants, interesting shops, galleries and attractions.
In addition there are outstanding outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, cycling, hunting, fishing, rafting and canoeing, all in the shadow of historic Grandfather Mountain.
North Carolina’s two largest ski areas—Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain—are near by and provide winter sports activities. Cultural activities are numerous at Lees-McRae College and nearby Appalachian State University, and there are festivals, theater and musical entertainment galore throughout the year.
“We couldn’t survive economically without our fine club members,” said Tate. “They play key roles in our total existence, and they have helped us grow and prosper. Throughout our history, people from other areas have invested in our natural resources, creating success for us and for them.”
And it all started in 1895 when golf was new and horses and buggies didn’t need stoplights.