By Charlene & Richard Mixa
North Carolina Mountain Golf Offers Plenty of Excitement!
Cool mountain breezes, fantastic views, and challenging golf courses welcome golfers to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Mountain golf creates the excitement of standing at the tee box looking down to a postage stamp green, staring up a hill to a green high above, shots over gently flowing clear rivers, rolling terrain along the mountainsides or valley holes with majestic mountains surrounding you. Golf for all skill levels and southern hospitality abounds in the western North Carolina Mountains. Are you ready for a mountain golf vacation?
Using Black Mountain, NC (just east of Asheville) as our base, we take on the Blue Ridge Mountains golf courses. Mountain golf is fantastic! Courses varied from the very challenging to the beautiful more relaxed courses. Each course brings its own uniqueness whether it is the elevation changes, side hill fairways, undulating greens, cooler temperatures or the awesome scenery.
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 putt. Playing in early in the morning, we enjoy cooler temperatures and have an exciting game. http://www.groveparkinn.com/legendary-golf
Mount Mitchell Golf Course is ranked ****1/2 in Golf Digest’s Places to Play and a Top Ten Public Course in North Carolina. Located just a few miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway on N.C. Highway 80, the course is along the valley at 3,000 feet elevation with the beautiful views of Black Mountain Range and Mt. Mitchell towering at 6,000 feet. Boasting bentgrass greens, fairways, and tees it always cart path only. The majority of holes are on the flat terrain of the Toe River Valley with no blind shots and few side hill lies. 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, we admire #11 a Par-3 with a most dramatic elevation change. From the tee box, perched high above the postage stamp green, proper club selection is a must. The Toe River winds through the course crossing fairways several times. Pay attention to the score card graphics or get a yardage book to see exactly when the Toe River bisects a fairway. We really love this course with the challenge it offers, the condition of the greens, fairways, and the scenery. Golfers visiting the Asheville area will find Mount Mitchell Golf Course a very good course to play, comparable to a private course. Lodging is also available with golf packages. Note: Use only directions from their website to locate the course, do not use GPS. Mountmitchellgolf.com
Cummings Cove Golf & Country Club features a partnership between Mountain golf and Mother Nature with 50 mile vistas. Weaving and winding through mountains, Cummings Cove keeps us on our toes as we approach each hole. The Par 71 course sports a 6,415 yard layout with each hole distinct in its own right and testing our golf skills. Playing with another couple we find 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. Club selection and careful course management are key in playing Cummings Cove. On the front nine, #5 a par-3 is a tickler of a hole 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. After these scenic par 3s, the course adds some extra demands as it finishes with back-to-back par 5s. Cummings Cove is a course that is best to play a second time to better understand all its nuances. It is located south of Asheville in the Hendersonville area. www.cummingscove.com/
The Cliffs at Walnut Cove Golf Course It’s time to tackle the award-winning Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course at The Cliffs at Walnut Cove. After warming up on their extensive practice area, we stand at the first tee of this par-71 course. As many golfers know, Jack Nicklaus courses historically can be “extremely demanding” for the average golfer. Today we find a course that is both extremely breathtaking and playable. Nicklaus has created a course offering plenty of challenge for the low handicapper with lots of forced carriers yet still enjoyable for the more casual golfer with other options of shots to play. Featuring gentle rolling slopes, challenging greens, bentgrass fairways and strong, strategic bunkering, the course is nestled in a spectacular natural amphitheater bordered to the north by the Blue Ridge Parkway and to the west by the Pisgah National Forest. Impressive! Walnut Cove’s golf course is in championship condition! Members can justly “brag” about this fantastic Signature Golf Course. The front nine is routed through the mountain meadows of what was once rolling farmland, while its back nine threads between oaks and evergreens, and around streams and creeks. Be prepared for a few surprises. Thinking I had made a terrific shot, I arrive to find my ball in the sliver of a creek that cuts across the fairway on No. 10. It is a memorable day of golf at a memorable golf course. A private course but is a great course to play if you have a chance. http://cliffsliving.com/community-page/walnut-cove-golf
Maggie Valley Club begins with a gentle front nine of a flat valley style course with nice wide fairways and a few holes where errant shots find water or out of bounds. The course appears to be short when first looking at the yardage especially on the front. Be prepared, the back nine adds the mountain holes with elevation challenges and playing totally different than the front. The back nine has great holes with uphill, downhill holes, undulating large greens, and the “mountain affect” when putting and trying to figure out which way the ball will actually roll. The #11 hole is a dogleg right with a very elevated green. Poor club selection makes for a challenging second shot to carry it to the green. Landing in the nasty rough on the hillside makes for impossible touch shots to the green. The Par 3 #15 with its elevated tee box is deceptive both from distance (club down) and the green slope. Any ball that lands on the green will probably roll off to the left due to the major leftward slope. Greens are hard to read with the mountain affect, tiers and slopes making for many 3 putt greens. The Pro Shop is first-rate with a wide selection of clothes for men and women. An excellent course to play as it is always in good condition, offers plenty of challenges, and a good location just 30 minutes west of Asheville www.maggievalleyclub.com
Reems Creek Golf Course just outside Asheville is a Scottish Highland style course sporting rolling terrain and deep knolls as it sits atop a mountain with the holes forming a bowl-shape. From the practice putting green and the #16 Hole we see the course spreading out along the mountaintop with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop. The views are awesome! Reems Creek is a formidable course and not for the “weak” golfer. With limited flat lies due to major elevation changes, numerous blind shots, water hazards, crazy hillside lies and unforgiving rough, Reems Creek definitely test our golf skills and patience. A few times we feel like “Billy goats” as hiking to locate our balls. Paying attention to graphics on each hole is a must. Play it as target golf and practice smart course management. Located 30 minutes north of Asheville, Reems Creek is a demanding course that will challenge any golfer. The course is under new ownership. With better upkeep, Reems Creek can be a top notch choice for a fun day of golf just a few miles north of Asheville. www.Reemscreekgolf.com
Mountain golf is a lot of fun and the courses are exciting. In addition to have the challenge for the low handicapper, we were impressed that they were also senior friendly and lady friendly. Be sure to check the yardage and consider your handicap when deciding the tees to play. Plan a trip to the mountains in spring for the beautiful rhododendrons, summer with its wild flowers or the fall foliage. Whatever time you pick the golf is terrific!
Be sure to check out golf courses at www.exploreasheville.com