Western North Carolina Offers a Variety of Golf Courses
By Richard & Charlene Mixa
On our recent summer visit to the Asheville area, Charlene and I were fortunate to play fifteen area golf courses. Some were private, semi-private, or resort courses, and all were within reasonable driving distances (for avid golfers!) to Asheville. Below is a course summary for each along with their location and contact information. Hope you enjoy the courses as much as we did. Golf is a great and often humbling game!
Cleghorn Plantation Golf and Sports Club, (Tyron Resort), Rutherfordton, N.C.
A picturesque, newly renovated, mountain-top course, Cleghorn Plantation possesses numerous challenges with its elevation changes. It’s scenic, dramatic holes are exciting to play. Rolling along the top of a mountain, the front nine provides holes that are downhill then uphill, all downhill, or all uphill to elevated greens. A creek winds through the back nine coming into play on the valley holes. While wide fairways help keep the ball in play, be prepared for blind shots, more bunkers and undulating greens that are tricky to read and adjust speed. A well maintained with a warm, friendly and welcoming staff. A little further away from Asheville but well worth the drive. If you are interested in horses, Cleghorn Plantation is part of the Tryon Resort that is linked to the nationally renowned nearby Tryon International Equestrian Center.
The course tips out at 6762 yards with a course rating of 73.3 and slope of 136 with four sets of tees.
Connestee Falls Golf Club, Brevard, N.C.
A full service, well-kept and very attractive country club. Its parkland setting on the front nine snakes among the forest and along hillsides. Panoramic vistas on the back nine are accompanied by impressive elevation on many holes. Here we find testy greens, a beautiful layout, and water coming into play on a few holes. Be on the lookout for unknown but quiet spectators of wildlife, especially deer. This is the only course we play where rain delays us. We recommend both checking the weather and playing early in the day, especially in summer. There is an upscale Pro Shop and restaurant with scenic views of the course. Club members have sponsored flower beds at each tee box, creating a welcoming touch.
From the tips it is 6517 yards with a course rating of 71.4 and slope of 131with five sets of tees.
Country Club of Asheville, (McConnell Golf), Asheville, N.C.
A beautiful Donald Ross golf course located in the suburbs of Asheville. Built in 1894, it was closed recently for a major course renovation. A very hilly course with mature trees, the Country Club of Asheville is in excellent condition and boasts all the accoutrements expected of a true country club. Here we find the large tee boxes, even for women. Starting downhill, the front nine slowly opens to a scenic valley setting. Greens are often large with major undulations making putting a bit touchy. Parallel fairways on the back nine are beautifully manicured and just far enough apart to not create problems with errant shots. Having played another Donald Ross golf course in the area, we admire his ability to carefully craft golf holes on hillsides and in tight spaces, yet still feel open. At the highest point on the back nine, the scenic cityscape of Asheville is definitely a photo opportunity. A most enjoyable course and a first-class experience!
From the tips it is 6648 with a course rating of 72.5 and slope of 134 with six sets of tees.
Etowah Valley Golf & Resort, Located between Hendersonville and Brevard, N.C.
Resort with Stay and Play accommodations 828-891-7022
This 27-hole facility continues to improve each year at this active golf resort. Golf conditions, food, and accommodations get more refined as management continues to upgrade all aspects of this demanding course in its attractive, natural setting. The South Course is through the valley but definitely keeps us on our toes with water being a significant factor on a few holes. Charlene’s hole-in-one on Hole No. 5, a 145 yard par-3, is cause for celebration. Hillside holes are predominant on the West Course which brings a totally different type of golf strategy from the West Course. Etowah is always a pleasure to play and a course we visit anytime we are in the area. Etowah can easily accommodate golf groups and outings.
From the tips it is 6925 with a course rating of 74.1 and slope of 137 with five sets of tees.
Laurel Ridge Country Club, Waynesville, N.C.
Private with new Stay and Play accommodations
This private, long-established country club has been a tradition in the Waynesville area for generations. Its rustic clubhouse has kept up with the times and offers a full array of services. Pickle-ball is the latest addition! “Complex” best describes the holes at Laurel Ridge. Each hole brings a unique and different dimension. While the course sits along a hillside, it still has considerable elevation change, water on a few holes, several holes with blind shots, and even rocks in a fairway. Greens are very touchy! The finishing holes on each nine truly test one’s course management with totally blind shots to narrow fairways and then water to carry to the green. The course is very well maintained with picturesque holes winding through woodlands, hills and well setback homes making for a delightful yet testing day of golf. It is fun to sit in the Clubhouse over lunch and watch groups come in on the ninth and eighteenth holes. The Stay and Play accommodations are new and extremely well-appointed.
From the tips it is 6904 with a course rating of 72.2 and slope of 142 with six sets of tees.
Maggie Valley Club & Resort, Maggie Valley, N.C.
This long established 18-hole facility is a true contrast; with 9 holes primarily flat and valley-like followed by 9 holes of beautiful mountain golf. Putting is always trying, especially on the back nine with the impact of the mountains coming into play. Putts we think are on track easily slide off to the side. Reaching the elevated greens on the long uphill fairways also creates a new dimension for us flatland golfers. Well set back home and condominiums continue to be built along this well maintained, fun but intriguing golf course. Restaurant offerings are always good and the staff is efficient and friendly which always makes Maggie Valley a really terrific experience.
From the tips it is 6466 with a course rating of 69.9 and slope of 128 with six sets of tees.
Mimosa Hills Country Club, Morganton, N.C.
Donald Ross was very active in the 1920’s and in 1929 he designed this beauty. This private established club has all the amenities of a well-run country club. Renowned for the fastest and best greens in the area, we played after the greens were aerated. We didn’t face the testy greens, but there plenty of other obstacles. Lucky to play with two seasoned course members, we thoroughly enjoy Mimosa Hills. The front nine begins in the valley and then slowly adds elevation. While the back nine brings a new level to the game as it rises up the mountain. Mimosa Hills demands course management and adjusting to the elevation, distances, and wind. The views are memorable, the conditions excellent, and the staff is very pleasant. Our pre-round lunch was delicious. A fun time!
From the tips it is 6750 with a course rating of 72.8 and slope of 137 with five sets of tees.
Mount Mitchell Golf Club, Burnsville, N.C. (16 miles SE of Burnsville on NC Hwy 80 or 2 miles west of Buck Creek Gap Exit on Blue Ridge Parkway)
A well-manicured bent grass golf course, Mount Mitchell is consistently a delightful golf stop when visiting the area. With its fragile bent grass, it’s always “cart path only.” A favorite North Carolina course, the terrific surroundings make a round of golf here always first-rate. Most of the course is in a high valley along the South Toe River that twists its way through the course. Water comes into play on several holes from a narrow creek or wide river to carry. It’s high valley setting still sneaks in several holes with impressive altitude. Look up and take in the scenic views of the majestic mountains, especially Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi. Just remember to keep your eye one the ball! It may be a little out of the way, but be assured, it’s worth the drive!
From the tips it is 6495 with a course rating of 70.0 and slope of 132 with four sets of tees.
Mountain Air Country Club, Burnsville, N.C.
A private, gated community, located near Burnsville, Mountain Air is the most exclusive and all-encompassing country club we experience. Slickrock Village Green, a complex of buildings, designed around a large putting green offers member a central place to dine, get fit, see a movie, relax in the spa, shop, visit friends, take a hike or play golf. Designed along a mountaintop, holes cut along the hillside and have over 900 feet change in the altitude. Thankfully, the GPS and the tee markers indicate both the actual yardage to the green and the distance it “plays.” The staff is professional and in service to members and guests, the course is challenging and immaculately tended, and Mountain Air is an experience that one will long remember. Mountain Air provides something for every member with facilities and service that surpasses all expectations! Plus it has its own private mountaintop runway. Simply awesome community and facility!
From the tips it is 6025 with a course rating of 69.2 and slope of 136 with eight sets of tees including “combo” tees.
Omni Resorts The Grove Park Inn, Asheville, N.C.
An historic Donald Ross designed course, built in 1926, continues to be a pleasure and challenge each time we play it. We’ve learned to be sure to play the appropriate tees for our handicap. This intricate course offers a few valley holes plus noteworthy uphill and downhill holes making it significantly more complex than it initially appears. Donald Ross carefully tucked parallel fairways in and assured the course had plenty of “fight.” Additionally, the rolling and contour greens take time to adjust to in order to avoid 3-putts or more. The Resorts four-star accommodations include varied restaurants, a world-class spa, as well as, a well-manicured golf course smoothly fitting in with the plush surroundings. The Omni Grove Park Inn is a “must see” when near Asheville and if golf is on your pleasure-list, the Course will be a highlight.
From the tips it is 6055 with a course rating of 69.5 and slope of 125 with five sets of tees.
Reems Creek Golf Club, Weaverville, N.C.
Managed by: Warrior Custom Golf
This is one of the most accessible golf courses to Asheville and one of the potentially more breathtaking courses in the area. The course tests your course management, your golf skills and your physical fitness with its sloping fairways, elevated greens, and more. With new ownership, we hope that tighter management and capital expenditures will someday have Reems Creek reach its full potential. Scenic views abound, challenging holes are numerous, proximity is ideal, and time will tell if this “gem” will be polished and given its opportunity to be a truly terrific golf experience.
From the tips it is 6492 with a course rating of 69.8 with a slope of 132 with four sets of tees.
Rock Barn Country Club & Spa, Conover, N.C.
Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Conover, NC, Rock Barn Country Club & Spa features 36 holes of award-winning golf (18 Robert Trent Jones II, members only) and (18 hole Tom Jackson, public). Rock Barn is truly first class with all the necessary upscale amenities. The Robert Trent Jones, II course with its Golf Digest 5-Star Rating is ranked 25th in the state by North Carolina Magazine. Playing the pristine Jones course we find it takes full advantage of the terrain and Lyle Creek. Meandering through the course, Lyle Creek adds extra dimension to the course, its nuances and its beauty. Holes on the Jones course are aptly named Double Cross, Scenic View, and Last Resort! Dining after our round in comfortable yet plush surroundings befits the fine resort Rock Barn is. This extremely well managed and appealing facility is a memorable golf experience for any golfer or guest of Rock Barn.
From the tips (The Tournament tees) on the Robert Trent Jones II Course is 7169 with a course rating of 73.8 and slope of 145. The Jackson Course is course rating is 75.2 and slope of 146 with six sets of tees.
Sequoyah National Golf Course, Cherokee, N.C.
Owned and operated by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, this Robert Trent Jones, II course is one of the most breathtaking mountain golf courses at its finest and best. Championship golf, with spectacular panoramic mountain vistas, on well-maintained fairways and greens, make for a great day! Sequoyah National is literally perched on a mountain top creating a golf course were almost every hole is all uphill or downhill. Paying attention to the GPS on the golf cart is necessary to understand best strategies for playing each hole and any “hidden” hazards. Take time to appreciate miles of mountains views. If more adventure still exists, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort is but a few miles away. No better way to spend a day than at Sequoyah National and Harrah’s Casino.
From the tips it is 6517 with a course rating of 72.0 and slope of 142 with five sets of tees.
Silver Creek Plantation, Morganton, N.C.
Located near the friendly and restaurant laden town of Morganton lays this Tom Jackson beauty. As is true of all area courses, the views are memorable, the grass is green and lush, the hospitality is welcoming and the golf is challenging. Our first course to play, with its uphill and downhill fairways began our re-education on playing in the mountains. Numerous dogleg fairways add to the excitement of the course so paying attention to the graphics on the Scorecard is important. Judging proper club selection is necessary on some of the steep downhill par-3’s. Bunkers are a challenge, as their design create major problems after the frequent Carolina rains. Bunker work is being undertaken. Not far from Asheville, this course is a fun experience and another great day in the Carolina Mountains.
From the tips it is 6723 with a course rating of 73.1 and slope of 144 with five sets of tees.
Wolf Laurel Country Club, Mars Hill, N.C.
This private, gated community is built around a spectacular 1965 W.B. Lewis designed 18 hole championship mountain golf course. Outstanding mountain views with 1,200 foot elevation changes are not uncommon on this Blue Ridge Mountain golfing experience. Tee to green elevations change by more than 300 feet! Be sure to pay attention to the Wolf Laurel Country Club Local Rules & Golf Pro Tips. In this area of the Blue Ridge, the mountains are closer together creating skinny valleys resulting in tight fairways that are straight downhill to a green or straight uphill to the green. Bring a light jacket along when you play Wolf Laurel, as mountain temperatures are cooler on this wonderfully gorgeous course. The pro staff and hospitality servicers are extremely friendly and welcoming. Wolf Laurel is truly memorable!
From the tips it is 6214 with a course rating of 70.2 and slope of 132 with five sets of tees.