Overcoming Hardships and Re-defining Its Identity
By Charlene & Richard Mixa
Golf is a game that echoes the “thrill of victory and agony of defeat.” Watching “The Open Championship” an errant shot, miscalculating a hazard, or a misread of a putt can be the difference between winning or not winning the “Claret Jug”. A golf course’s success can also experience the “thrill of victory and agony of defeat,” yet like the fortitude of any golfer, one still strives to overcome hardships. When Lee Trevino designed the Linville Falls Golf Club, he called it the prettiest property he’s seen for a golf course. Since opening in 1995 as a high-end private club, Linville Falls Golf Club has faced hardships and set backs of multiple owners and a shut down for 2 ½ years due two devastating hurricane-floods in 2004. With fortitude, desire and vision the club’s new owner, Jim Kelechi, former Kiawah Island Head Golf Pro, is making strides in bringing the course up to a new standard. Today Linville Falls Golf Club is now open to the public and is definitely a “hidden gem!”
With an early afternoon tee time, we look forward to golfing Linville Falls Golf Club. We initially played the course in 2011 and played again about five years ago when it was in need of tender loving care. The Clubhouse is brighter and now has the Sand Trap Grill. Jim welcomes us and shares tales of tackling the improvements and the slow process of bringing the course to a better standard. Not an easy undertaking but Jim is making great strides.
The front nine meanders through a hardwood forest with hazards and a rocky creek coming into play on a couple of holes. Don’t be fooled by its initial appearance of flatter terrain as it definitely tests any golfer’s abilities and skills. Glad we have the “Course Guide Book” that prepares us for the unexpected hazards not visible from the tee box or fairway. While starting holes appear tame there is a trickiness to either the approach shot or the putting greens. No. 4 is a par-4 dogleg right with an elevated green hidden with a rock hazard to carry. Placement of the drive is critical for a clear opening to the green. Awesome – Richard birdies it! Then No. 5, a long par-5, is downhill requiring demanding shots with the creek protecting the green. An exciting finishing hole is No. 9, a dogleg left par-4, with the North Fork of the Catawba River to cross on the second shot. Richard is in a zone as he pars the final three holes on the front nine.
Inspiring views of the Linville Mountain Range and Humpback Mountain create scenic backdrops of holes on the back nine. While scenic views are enjoyable, the North Fork of the Catawba River has an even bigger impact. A few holes require a carry over the rock strewn riverbed. Starting with a par-5 on No. 10 is a welcoming wide open fairway and no hazards. Beware, No. 11 a par-4, No. 12 a par-3 and No. 13 a par-4 all have major sections of the North Fork of the Catawba River to carry. Some are a bit narrow and creek-like while others are wider spans of water and rocks adding to the intrigue of the course. With the pin placement on the far left on a sloping green on No. 12 a par-3, I am happy to land on the green and make my par. On my second shot over the hazard and creek to the green at No. 13, I make my par. The intriguing finishing holes of number 17 a par-3 with a green that slopes to the back and then No. 18 a par-4 with downhill then uphill fairway makes a great finale. No birdies on the back nine but some nice pars for each of us senior golfers makes it a fun day.
Linville Falls Golf Club continues to add intrigue and excitement to a round of golf. We wish Jim the best as he continues to bring this course to a new standard. A tale we heard previously was that golf students from nearby Appalachian State University in Boone, say if they can “master” the Linville Falls Course than can handle anything. Linville Falls Golf Club brings a different perspective and intrigue.
If you go: Linville Fall Golf Club sits on the is conveniently only 16 miles from Marion off beautiful Highway 221 and just south of Linville Caverns.
Blue tees 7002 72.0/133, White Tees 6516 69.9/126, Gold Tees Men 5936 67.1/113, Gold Tees Women 5813 71.8/129, Red Tees Men 5094 64.7/107, Red Tees Ladies 5044 69.5/119
Linville Falls Golf Club, 210 Blue Ridge Drive N, Marion, NC 28752