By Charlene & Richard Mixa
From the Mountain Top to the Valley, It’s Challenging Golf for Everyone!
Dramatic scenic landscapes, dynamic elevation changes, thick lush grasses, and serene valley holes add to the thrill of mountain golf. It’s over “hill and dale” golfing the North Carolina High Country courses. Where shots fly farther and flat lies are few. Where the terrain tests a golfer’s ability to adjust to uphill, downhill, and side hill holes each bringing a new dimension to the game. All among wonderful views of verdant forested mountains, winding creeks and picturesque mountain vistas. Remarkable and varied golf awaits golfers of all skill levels in the North Carolina High Country.
High Country Golf is on the top of our list of activities for our visit to the Boone/Blowing Rock, North Carolina area. Stopping at the Blowing Rock Visitor Center, the staff provides us with a handy listing of the area golf courses including Public, Semi-Private and Private Courses. The list provides good basic information, phone, website, and estimated traveling time to each course. Initially, it seems there is an over abundance of Private Clubs, but don’t despair using the Center’s Golf Course list, we quickly locate several excellent golf courses available to the public. Playing five golf courses, we find each brings its own unique challenges and demands. Read on to learn more about these courses and our experience of golf in the North Carolina High Country.
Boone Golf Club, Boone, NC
Featuring gently rolling fairways, large undulating greens, and lush greenery this 18 hole course adds the extra benefit of crisp mountain air and breath-taking views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. On the outskirts of Boone, NC on US Highway 321 South, it is the most convenient of the public courses in the Boone/Blowing Rock area. Nestled in the Watauga Valley, the course’s front nine holes are primarily valley holes with a creek meandering through it. Ugh, the thick club grabbing grass of the rough along the fairways is wicked. Greens are demanding and require a soft touch. The back nine has several hillside holes with steep sloping fairways, where a flat lie cannot be found. After a few holes the course winds it way back to the valley for the finishing holes ending with No. 18’s huge, demanding, contoured green. The course is in very good shape and offers a variety of terrain from valley holes, some water hazards, hillside holes and demanding greens. Golfers, regardless of their skill level, will enjoy the course and its many challenges. Even better, it is convenient to Boone and Blowing Rock.
Linville Falls Mountain Preserve and Golf Club, Marion, NC
Designed by Lee Trevino and Bruce Devlin, the Linville Falls Mountain course brings a totally different perspective of golf in the mountains. Actually situated in a gorge near Linville Caverns, it’s about 45 minutes from Boone, NC. This par 71 course has narrow fairways, a creek that brings numerous challenges to several holes and a demanding layout. Having withstood several trials of nature since opening, the course is back on track and management is in the process of getting it to a better condition. Don’t be fooled by it’s flatter terrain as it definitely tests the any golfer’s abilities and skills. With limited yardage markers and no graphics, it is necessary to stay alert to the many nuances of the course. Several dogleg holes lead to unexpected hazards not visible from the tee box or fairway. Making the turn, the back nine is more dramatic as the creek comes into play on several holes and even widens to a rock strewn riverbed on a few holes. The Pro shares that the 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 on mountain golf.
Mountain Aire Golf Course, West Jefferson, NC
Spectacular mountain views and fantastic mountain holes are the scene at Mountain Aire Golf Course. The newly remodeled 18-hole championship golf course features a challenging round of golf for every skill level. Each hole presents its own unique personality with its own beauty. Located about 40 minutes from Boone near West Jefferson, the course is a true mountain course. Situated on the massive bowl shaped area atop the mountain, the course layout is easily visible. Major terrain changes are found on the front nine with some exciting contour greens. Formidable elevation changes impact the need to adjust club selection. A dynamic hole is No. 6 with gorgeous panoramic view of the entire course and a dramatic elevation drop of two hundred feet from tee to green on this extraordinary par-4. The back nine continues with more exhilarating mountain holes and a creek meandering through a few fairways. Some holes appear to be short by yardage standards, but these have deceptive, uphill slopes, thus playing much longer. Even with golf carts, there is still quiet a bit of walking to get to greens and fairways. Mountain Aire is definitely, “A challenging round of golf…a scenic course…a friendly atmosphere…all at a price that you can afford.”
Mountain Glen Golf Club, Newland, NC
A valley course Mountain Glen presents exciting holes winding through a beautiful valley just outside Newland, NC, about 40 minutes from Boone, NC. This predominantly parkland course is in great shape with wide open fairways and a creek running along several holes before crossing a few fairways. To make up for being a valley course, Mountain Glen has bunkers on every single hole. Intriguing dogleg fairways keep players attentive as do large grassy ditches to carry and several water hazards. All golfers will enjoy a round of golf here. The graphics on the markers and score card are very helpful for showing the hole layout and how to best play each hole. The back nine of Mountain Glen is much more difficult than the front. As the course wraps around the side of the mountain and the foothills, it adds the complexity of elevation and terrain changes to several holes. No. 15 is a diabolical par-3 with a long carry over a lake to a well bunkered green. Both, No. 9 and No. 18 holes are exciting finishing holes with major doglegs and a wide ditch to carry with uphill fairways to sloping greens. Mountain Glen Golf is in great shape and though it is more a valley course, golfers must be alert to its many nuances.
Red Tail Mountain Golf Club, Mountain City, TN
Breathtaking views and vistas of the stunning mountains of Tennessee around a verdant valley form the layout for Red Tail Mountain. With an impressive 400 feet of elevation change, it is true mountain golf. The spectacular mountain views and dramatic backdrops create a special day of golf and an appreciation for the natural setting. Located just 30 minutes from Boone, NC, every hole presents a unique and different challenge. While the first few holes on the front nine are in the valley they have water hazards along the fairway and strategically in front of the greens. Next the course winds up the mountain with many holes set in the forest also sporting significant elevation changes and extreme dogleg fairways. A whole new perspective of mountain golf is found on the back nine with many fantastic holes both from major elevation changes, to hidden greens, to nasty high grassy rough. An exciting hole is No. 12 a par-5 with a downhill, sloping dogleg right fairway to a hidden green that is literally carved out of the side of a mountain. A huge boulder protects the right front of the green. Red Tail Mountain is a fantastic mountain golf course. It is in great condition and offers all the thrills of mountain golf. All golfers will find it a dramatic and exhilarating course.
Mountain golf in the North Carolina High Country definitely exceeded our expectations. The five courses we played each added its own drama to these scenic mountains. When visiting the area, golfers will be pleasantly surprised and impressed on the variety of golf courses available to the public within the Boone/Blowing Rock area.
If you go:
Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority, 7738 Valley Boulevard, Blowing Rock, NC 28605; 877.750.4636 or 838.295.4636; www.visitblowingrock.com
Boone Golf Club, 433 Fairway Drive, Boone, NC; 866.532.4653 or 828.264.8760:
Boone & Watauga County Tourism: www.exploreboonearea.com
Linville Falls Mountain Preserve & Club, 210 Blue Ridge Drive North, Marion, NC 28752; 828.756.4653;
Mountain Aire Golf Club, 1104 Golf Course Road, West Jefferson, NC 28694; 336.877.4716; www.mountainaire.com
Mountain Glen Golf Club, 1 Club House Drive, Newland, NC 28657; 828.733.5804; www.mountainglengolfclub.com
Red Tail Mountain Golf Club, 300 Clubhouse Lane, Mountain City, TN 37683; 423.727.793; www.redtailmountain.com