Golf in North Carolina and the Triangle
When we think of golf in North Carolina, what comes to mind for most of us are the beautiful courses and stunning natural setting of Pinehurst. But even outside this iconic golf destination, our state has some of the most highly rated courses in the country, from the mountains to the Atlantic.
In the first place on most lists of “best of the best” golf courses in our state is, of course, historic Pinehurst, w
ith nine stunning 18-hole courses, one 9-hole course and the family-friendly, fun-for-anyone 18-hole Thistle Dhu putting greens. From the first course constructed at the legendary resort town, No. 1 in 1989, to the most recently designed 9-hole “Cradle” course completed in 2017, each offers its own unique features – rolling hills, towering pines, sand traps and greens following the natural undulations of the land – designed by golf legends Don Ross, Tom Fazio, Gil Hanse and Jack Nicklaus.
The charming village of Pinehurst itself, a playground of unique shopping, recreation, a variety of four-star to casual dining establishments and outstanding accommodations – including the iconic Carolina Hotel and historic Holly Inn – was originally established as a center of recuperation and good health in the late 1800s. The legendary U.S. Open has taken place three times at Pinehurst over the past 25 years; the town and is all set to host the tournament for a fourth time in 2024.
Cashiers & Highlands
Beautiful Cashiers, situated in the southwest regions of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is home to an astounding 60 miles of fairways and several outstanding courses including the Wade Hampton Golf Club and Mountaintop Golf & Lake Club.
Tom Fazio’s 4,000-foot high Mountaintop Golf & Lake Club, considered by some to be the most magnificent golf course designed in modern times, features some of North Carolina’s finest scenery and topography. The par 70 private golf course – open for play to a select 350 members – and Lake Club, at the edge of Lake Glenville, offer an outstanding golf experience and family-friendly activities to select members of this community situated between Cashiers and Highlands.
Cashiers’ award-winning, members-only Wade Hampton Golf Club has
been a top golf course since it debuted in the mid-1980s. The course’s magnificent mountain setting and natural layout along a breathtaking natural valley makes it one of the most beautiful clubs in the U.S. with firm and fast greens, scenic streams, and impressive rock features.
The Diamond Creek Golf Club’s magnificent Blue Ridge mountain views – Sugar Mountain, Beech Mountain, the Four Diamond Ridge – and unique features such as a 100-foot waterfall make it one of the most stunning nationwide golf courses. Tom Fazio, as is his custom, has designed the course with hidden cart paths and an outstanding clubhouse at Diamond Creek, where tournaments such as the Ryder Cup and PGA Tour regularly take place.
At an altitude varying between 3,450 and 4,650 feet, depending on the hole, Banner Elk’s Elk River Club, Jack Nicklaus’ first North Carolina Signature Course, spreads out over 1,200 acres of magnificent mountainside and features views of Grandfather, Sugar and Beech Mountains as well as mature fairways and greens. One of the most beautiful courses in the state, Elk River’s un
ique layout – the first nine holes on a flatter piece of land, while the back nine are situated among the splendid streams and foliage of the Blue Ridge Mountains – offers a challenging variety of play.
Charlotte’s private, 500-acre Verdict Ridge Golf & Country Club, with a wide variety of membership options designed to suit any budget, is a rolling, magnificently designed course with a Par of 72 and features such as meandering creeks, natural wetlands and, toward the end of the course, a series of holes with remarkable changes in elevation. The variety of terrain, an abundance of wildlife and the beauty of the natural surroundings make Verdict Ridge Charlotte’s No. 1 course for many golfers.
Quail Hollow Golf Club, designed half a century ago, has been modified over the past 2-3 decades by golf greats Arnold Palmer and Tom Fazio. One of the most unique features of this outstanding club is an area called Champions Park, honoring golfers who have won tournaments at the golf course with gold plaques and a large outdoor fireplace at its center. In 2022, Quail Hollow will host the Presidents Cup, a unique tournament featuring a U.S. Team and an International Team composed of players from the rest of the world excluding Europe.
Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill
Ranked by many as the best course in Wake County, the Raleigh Country Club is
a Donald Ross-designed masterpiece of a layout with a variety of holes as well as a 15-acre practice facility and multiple chipping greens, putting green and driving range. Redesigned by architect Kyle Franz in 2020, the course has been updated with new tee boxes, a new irrigation system, and re-routed golf paths and the removal of certain trees to allow for a more natural setting and improved air movement.
Durham’s beautiful, private Old Chatham Golf Club, designed 20 years ago by legendary Rees Jones, sits on 400 acres of scenic Piedmont woodland, with a Clubhouse and guest cottage created in classic Carolina style. An extensive (15-acre) practice facility offers two (front and back) tee areas, a practice fairway bunker and pitching and chipping area.
Jack Nicklaus’ private, 27-hole Governor’s Club Signature golf course not only offers an outstanding golf experience but a luxury residential community in some of the loveliest acreage of the
Piedmont region. Three 9-hole courses, each with its own unique personality – Lakes, Foothills and Mountain – offer something for everyone from the most casual player to professionals and other participants in some major annual golf events.
Wilmington’s outstanding Eagle Point Golf Club combines all the elements of iconic coastal living – amazing saltwater views, sabal palms, and an elegant clubhouse that blends seamlessly into the natural setting – on a course designed to highlight the area’s pristine surroundings. Opened in 2000, the challenging Tom Fazio-designed cou
rse has received outstanding reviews every year, receiving its first mention on the Golf Digest’s list of the “Top 100” in 2005.