The Queen City of the Carolinas has some of the best golf in the US on its doorstep
Known for NASCAR and banking, the Queen City also has some of the best golf courses in the US on its doorstep
WHERE 90 miles east of Charlotte.
WHY Although it’s a two-hour drive from Charlotte, Pinehurst is worth the pilgrimage for any keen golfer. This cathedral of golf has nine courses, three hotels and an historic clubhouse, making it the US equivalent of St Andrews.
Designed by Donald Ross in 1907 and restored in 2010, the iconic Pinehurst No 2 hosted the 1951 Ryder Cup, as well as three US Opens in the past 18 years. Snaking through pine trees with ultra-fast saucer greens and acres of hard-pan sand dotted with wiregrass, it’s a fiendishly difficult track. While too demanding for higher handicap golfers to score well on, for anyone with a sense of golfing history, walking the hallowed fairways is a memorable experience. The members’ favorite is the gentler Pinehurst No 8.
PRICE Advance tee times are reserved for members and resort guests. Pinehurst No 2: $270 in Dec-Feb rising to $340 in March and Nov, $360 June and Aug and $450 April-May and Sept-Oct; can be booked 24 hours in advance. Best walked with a caddie. All other courses can be booked five days ahead. Caddies $90, forecaddies (one per foursome) $30 per player. Titleist, Callaway or Taylormade club rentals $80.
HOURS Summer 7:00 AM to dusk, winter 8:00 AM to dusk. FACILITIES No 2 is 7,588 yards par-72, with caddies or forecaddies recommended. There are a further eight 18-hole courses, academies, video swing analysis, driving range, short game area and an 18-hole short course. MAX HANDICAP Handicap certificate not required. FOOD & LEISURE The clubhouse accommodates the Deuce bar and restaurant, the 91st Hole for snacks and coffee, and a well-stocked pro shop. The buffet breakfast at the nearby and rather swank 230-room Carolina Hotel is legendary. Also on the resort are the 82-room Holly Hotel and, next to the Brewery, the 42-room Manor Inn, as well as 42 condos, a spa, pools and tennis courts.
CONTACT 80 Carolina Vista Drive, Pinehurst, NC; 1 855 235 8507; pinehurst.com
WHERE 18 miles from downtown Charlotte. WHY Close to plush office blocks housing the likes of the Wells Fargo Bank HQ, this course is aimed squarely at the business/corporate market, and guests staying at the on-site Ballantyne Hotel. A well-manicured, relatively straightforward track featuring lakes or creeks on ten holes, it’s one of the most popular public courses in the Charlotte area. Most players take a cart, although it’s also an easy walk.
PRICE Mon-Thur $62, Fri-Sun $82 (with cart); Titleist club rentals $60.
HOURS Summer 7:00 AM-7:00 PM, winter 8:00 AM-5:00 PM.
FACILITIES 6,740-yard par-71 with a driving range, indoor and outdoor practice areas, and Dana Rader Golf School with both LPGA and PGA teachers. Wellprovisioned halfway house.
MAX HANDICAP Handicap certificate not required.
FOOD & LEISURE The five-star Ballantyne Hotel has a fine restaurant, a bar featuring nine draft beers and many whiskies, a well-equipped spa, tennis courts, plus indoor and outdoor pools. It’s close to Quail Hollow, which hosts the annual Wells Fargo PGA event, so many tour players stay here.
CONTACT 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway, Charlotte, NC; 1 866 248 4824; golfballantyne.
WHERE 18 miles from downtown Charlotte. WHY Designed by the prolific Clyde Johnston and opened in 2001, this is an undulating course routed through delightful woods, with creeks feeding the nearby Catawba River in play on 13 holes. Fairways are wide open and inviting, and greens that were re-laid in 2010 are fast and true. Off the back tees, it’s long enough for scratch players; from the forward tees it’s still an enjoyable treat for novices. The club has few members so is very welcoming to visitors.
PRICE Weekdays $46 (including cart share), weekends $61; after 3:00 PM, weekdays $39, weekends $52. Over 55s $36 during the week. Weekdays and after 1:00 PM on the weekend, players are permitted to walk. Nike and Titleist rental clubs $40.
HOURS 7:00 AM-7:00 PM summer, 7:30 AM-5:00 PM winter. FACILITIES 6,906-yard par-72. Chipping green with bunker, plus oversized putting green and a driving range to accommodate even the longest hitter, teaching professional. MAX HANDICAP Handicap certificate not required. FOOD & LEISURE A modest bar serves beer, sandwiches and snacks.
CONTACT 639 Hambly House Lane, Fort Mill, SC; 1 803 548 3318; playspringfield.com
WHERE 16 miles from downtown Charlotte.
WHY This course, designed by Dan Maples, is a typical daily-fee, public-access affair with good facilities. Generous fairways run between elevated tees and pristine greens with snarly Bermuda rough and surrounding wetlands best avoided. A giant boulder on the long 5th was too big to blast, so has now become a feature of the round.
PRICE Mon-Thur $49 (including cart share), Fri $59, weekends $69; Dec to mid-March, weekdays $44, weekends $52. Adams and Callaway rental clubs $40.
HOURS Tee times from 8:10 AM to 4:50 PM.
FACILITIES 6,970-yard par-72. Driving range, chipping and putting greens, plus three teaching professionals. Four sets of tees including PGA Junior tees on the front nine.
MAX HANDICAP Handicap certificate not required.
FOOD & LEISURE The clubhouse’s Stonehouse Grille has all the basics plus large TVs on which to watch the ballgame. For NASCAR fans, Charlotte Motor Speedway is just across the road. The club is owned by the neighboring Embassy Suites Hotel, which has attractive stay-and-play packages.
CONTACT 6,900 Bruton Smith Boulevard, Concord, NC; 1 704 455 1200; rockyrivergolf.com
Too big to blast, a boulder has become a feature of the round
LEFT AND FAR LEFT: The iconic Pinehurst No 2 course is fiendishly difficult
CLOCKWISE FROM OPPOSITE PAGE: One of the lakes at Ballantyne; undulating terrain at Springfield; the clubhouse at Rocky River; and the course’s infamous boulder