A Wide Range of Golf Courses Beckon
By: Charlene S. Mixa & Richard Mixa
Cool mountain breezes, fantastic views, and challenging golf courses beckon golfers to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Mountain golf is inspiring! The perspectives are varied from standing at a tee glaring down to a postage stamp green, staring up a hill to a green high above, making shots over gently flowing rivers, side hill stances on the rolling terrain of a foothills or winding valley holes among majestic mountains. Our western North Carolina Mountain golf vacation has us playing a wide range of courses. From Sequoyah National Golf Club with its major elevation changes to the Etowah Valley Country Club’s more gentle terrain to Mount Mitchell Golf Club in the valley along the Toe River each bring its on uniqueness, excitement and demands.
Black Mountain Golf Course, home of the 747 Par 6, is our first stop for mountain golf. A well maintained enjoyable municipal course that is a good value for the money. The 18-hole par 72 course winds along the foothills and valley of the Black Mountain Range. Beautiful mountain views surround the course. Fairways have side hill, uphill, and downhill lies with some blind shots adding to the enjoyment and challenge in playing the course. The Par 6 signature hole (747 from the tips) is exhilarating. A dogleg right fairway bordered on one side by a creek follows the side hill terrain of the mountain to an elevated green perched on a ridge. Congrats! Richard gets a par! I’m pleased with a bogey. The course offers a plenty of challenge. The Pro Shop features 747 caps for playing this one of a kind hole. www.blackmountaingolf.org
Connestee Falls Golf Club offers a delightful golf experience with features of testy greens, beautiful layout and scenic views. Friends in Florida recommend this semi-private, dynamic Par 72 course that stretches 6,517 yards from the tips. Connestee Falls front nine is a parkland setting winding among the forest and along the hillsides while the back nine brings significant elevation changes and panoramic vistas. On this early June morning beautiful Mountain Laurel is in full bloom adding to the beauty. Adjusting to hillside lies and paying attention to the nuance of each hole definitely keeps alert. Richard is on track with a par on the first hole. Finally we are both in rhythm with each getting pars on No. 5 a par-3. Fantastic views and a picturesque overlook with benches, compliments of the members, are a distraction on No. 14. A fun photo op! Club members have sponsored flower beds at each tee box adding to mountain beauty. The course is in very good condition and has a good pace of play. We thoroughly enjoyed golfing Connestee Falls and highly recommend it to golfers visiting the area. It is located only minutes from downtown Brevard, NC. www.connesteefallsgolf.com
Cummings Cove Golf & Country Club boasts a partnership between Mountain golf and Mother Nature with 50 mile vistas. Weaving through mountains, Cummings Cove a Par 71 course sports a 6,415 yard layout with each hole distinct in its own right. The course brings forth plenty of mountain golf challenges of elevated tees, fairways winding through trees, streams to cross, even waterfalls, and miles of panoramic mountain views. A course that has us feeling like a Billy Goat on some holes while others bring a welcoming calm. On the front nine, No. 5 a par-3 is a stickler with an elevated green above a craggy slope with water to carry and hillside behind it. Missing the green whether short, long, right or left results in a lost ball or unplayable lie. On the back nine we find three premier par 3 holes that have miles of views and still test our skills. It is located south of Asheville in the Hendersonville area. www.cummingscove.com
Etowah Valley Golf Club & Lodge offers 27 holes with their 3 nines of South, West and North. We play the South, a valley course, and the West with fairways along rolling hills. The South course rolls through flat terrain amid tree-lined lush fairways with a few water hazards. Especially challenging is No. 4, a par-4 with water hazard running across the fairway, so club selection is critical to avoid water on the drive that enables a good shot into the green. The West Course starts out in the valley and then slowly climbs along the edge of the foothills with several holes having downhill or uphill fairways. Putting is demanding on the manicured bent grass greens with some as large as 9,000 square feet. The courses are both in very good condition since coming under new management. A full service, semi-private club with lodging on site it is being completely updated under the new ownership, creating a great golf getaway. Etowah Valley is located outside of Hendersonville, NC. www.EtowahValley.com
Grove Park Inn Golf Course Fore! With grand views of the glorious stone structure of the Grove Park Inn, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the city-scape of Asheville, we tee it up on the resort’s historic 18-hole Donald Ross golf course. Considered among the top golf experiences in North Carolina, it celebrates the spirit of mountain golf. Donald Ross stated, “A course that continually offers problems – one with fight in it, if you please –is the one that keeps the player keen for the game.” Among the top ten courses 100 years or older according to Golf Digest, it was masterfully restored in 2001and still reflects the glory and spirit of Donald Ross’ original design. The course has “fight” with its elevation changes, frustration with its bedeviling contour greens and is a great test of golfing skills. Tackling the course does keep us “keen on the game.” The 6,720-yard, par-70 course is contoured out of the rolling landscape with tree-lined fairways, challenging bunkers and receptive bent greens. And, its elevated tee boxes give amazing views. Each hole brings its own challenge between valley holes, uphill and downhill fairways, and nasty rough. Greens are huge, undulating and extremely difficult to putt. www.groveparkinn.com/legendary-golf
Mount Mitchell Golf Course is a Top Ten Public Course in North Carolina. Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway on N.C. Highway 80, the course sits in a valley at 3,000 ft. elevation with the beautiful views of Black Mountain Range and Mt. Mitchell towering at 6,000 feet. Its bentgrass greens, fairways, and tees means it is always cart path only. The majority of holes are on the flat terrain of the Toe River Valley. The front nine finishes with a dramatic dogleg right that requires a shot through a small opening in a stand of trees and over the creek in front of the undulating green. On the back nine, No.11 a Par-3 the tee box is perched high above the postage stamp green, proper club selection is a must. Pay attention to the score card graphics or get a yardage book to see exactly when the Toe River bisects a fairway. Golfers visiting the Asheville area will find Mount Mitchell Golf Course a very good course to play, comparable to a private course. Note: Use only directions from their website to locate the course, do not use GPS. www.Mountmitchellgolf.com
Sequoyah National Golf Club is an invigorating mountain course and I mean mountain course. The majority of tees (even ladies) sit high above the fairway below. Actually, the course sits on the top of the mountain and playing it is a blast. Today it’s cart path only and we truly feel like Billy goats. Richard must have some mountain heritage as he pars the first three holes. Attempting to guestimate distances (thanks for the GPS systems) and adapting to side hill, uphill, downhill, and elevation changes really keeps us focused on our game. The views are awesome! We start under clear blue skies, then gray skies with rain in the distant mountains has us scampering to play some holes. While other golfers quit, we hang in there and unbelievably the storm abates as the sun emerges. Hurrah, we each par the final hole and cheer that we actually completed the round. Sequoyah National is under new management and they are working diligently on getting it in great condition. Amazing the strides they have made since taking over the course. Golfers visiting the Cherokee area or need to escape Harrah’s Cherokee Casino will be thrilled with a round on Sequoyah National. The favorite of the courses we play on this visit. It is located in Whittier, NC just a few miles from Cherokee, NC. www.sequoyahnational.com
Mountain golf is invigorating! Plan a trip to the mountains in spring for the beautiful rhododendrons, summer with its wild flowers or in the fall for the scenic fall foliage. Whatever time you pick the golf is superb! Be sure to check out golf courses at www.exploreasheville.com.