Setting the Standard for a Premier Country Club
By Charlene &Richard Mixa
Boasting a heritage that spans generations, the Country Club of Asheville is the oldest private club in Asheville and among the first hundred private clubs founded in America. Initially established in 1894 as Swannanoa Country Club today the Country Club of Asheville continues to set the standard as a premier country club. Perched on the lush green feet of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the outskirts of Asheville, members breathe in the stunning natural beauty while golfing, swimming, playing tennis or dining. The camaraderie of families, friends, and hospitality are the primary focus of the Club.
Our golf story at the Country Club of Asheville begins on an early Sunday afternoon. Arriving at their newly renovated clubhouse we find the dining room filled with members seeking a special Sunday lunch, morning and afternoon tee times booked, and staff busy checking in golfers. Friendliness and hospitality are apparent from the young man at the Bag Drop to the staff in the Pro Shop. Their well-stocked Pro Shop offers a variety of golf equipment, accessories, and the latest in men’s and ladies golf fashions.
Whether one is seeking to hone their golf skills or warm up before a round of golf, the practice facilities feature both putting and chipping greens as well as a 25- tee driving range. After warming up on the driving range we attempt to figure out the nuances at the putting green. Richard drops 3 balls to practice putting. “Where’d they go?” The balls just roll off the green. Looks like our putting skills will be tested today.
Now to experience golf the way it was meant to be played on this championship Donald Ross golf course. The course underwent a top-to-bottom renovation in 2016 both restoring it to its original Ross design and adding necessary modern adaptation. With six sets of tees, we have options for yardage and difficulty that best meet our golfing skills. From the Black tees it is 6648 yards (72.5/134) to the forward -Red Tees of 5016 yards (69.0/122). Teeing off on No. 1 a par-4, from the top of the hill it’s a blind shot to the green at the bottom. Second shots are from downhill fairways to a large undulating green. From the first green we find putting a challenge. Typical of other Donald Ross golf courses, the greens have plenty of undulation and are fast. After the downhill first hole, we find holes more in the valley with wide open fairways and many large greens. Be prepared as a creek crosses No. 4 which also features an elevated green. Valley fairways are also found where the ball will roll down to the center of the fairway. Due to recent rains it is cart path only today, so it’s a lot of walking up and down hillsides, carrying multiple clubs and keeping track of where the golf cart is. As the front nine winds back to the top of the hill storm clouds gather. With pars on No. 9 a par-4, we stop at the Grill on No. 10, just as the “lightning siren” blows and it starts to rain. Perfect timing as we have a snack while we wait for the “all clear” siren.
With our trusty rain gear, we tee off on No. 10 to find it necessary for the right club selection to carry the creek on a drive. Despite the rainfall the greens are draining well as are the fairways. The back nine twists its way up and down a hillside. A downhill hole is followed by an uphill hole. Fairways are nice and wide so straight hitters will stay in the fairway. The wet grass in the rough and around the greens make it difficult to extricate the ball with any touch. No. 15 a par-4 takes us to the highest elevation on the course with an all uphill fairway to a huge green. Here we find a stunning and spectacular view of downtown Asheville. No. 16 a long par-5 for all golfers has several challenges to an elevated green. No. 17a par-3 is scenic with roses blooming at the tee box. As we approach No. 18 it is blue skies and sunshine. The grand finale of No. 18 has a valley to cross to a dogleg left fairway. Ugh! We are all on the left making it a long walk from the cart path to the ball and back. Despite the weather, we had an exciting and challenging afternoon of golf at this classy and classic golf course.
On our visit, golf was a primary focus. The Country Club of Asheville offers its members a full scale premier facility where members can “Recharge, Rejuvenate and Relax Amenities include an Olympic-size swimming pool, a brand-new fitness center, indoor and outdoor tennis facilities, and their championship golf course. Their culinary team offers dining in both a casual dining set and upscale dining venue. Additionally, the Country Club of Asheville is part of McConnell Golf, the largest owner of private clubs in the region. McConnell Golf’s stable of premier private clubs is comprised of eleven18 hole, private golf courses plus one nine-hole course in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.