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

Business Traveler (USA) - - CONTENTS - WORDS PETER SWAIN

PINEHURST

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

BALLANT YNE

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.

SPRING­FIELD

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

ROCKY RIVER

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

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