If you’ve ever seen the marvelous movie, ‘High Fidelity,’ starring John Cusack as a lovesick music buff, you know that guys love to rank things. Top 10 songs. Top 10 movies. Top 10 cheeseburgers.
The Golf Channel has a series of Top 10 shows running this summer and, seemingly every day, somebody has a list about something.
In that spirit, I’ve compiled my 10 favorite courses in North Carolina. It doesn’t mean they’re the best, though most are familiar, just that they’re courses I like to play when I get the chance.
Some familiar ones aren’t included because I’ve never seen or played them. Wade Hampton, the Country Club of North Carolina, Diamond Creek and Eagle Pointe are just a few of those. Everyone who’s been to Wade Hampton raves about it but it’s hard to include it if I’ve never seen it.
My top 10 is:
10. Cedarwood Country Club in Charlotte. OK, it’s my home course so I’m playing favorites here but it’s a terrific members’ course, originally designed by Ellis Maples then retouched a couple of years ago by Kris Spence. The last five holes are one of the best finishing stretches around.
9. Old North State Club in New London: Some lists have this course near the top in the state, though I can’t put it that high. It’s great fun to play, even if the par-4 ninth hole is harder than boot camp. The 16th, 17th and 18th holes play along Baden Lake and are as much fun to play as they are to look at. If anyone ever invites you to Old North State, go.
8. Elk River in Banner Elk: It’s a beautiful Jack Nicklaus design with two distinct nines. One plays through a meadow while the other climbs and twists along a hillside. It would be a great place to spend the summer.
7. Linville Golf Club in Linville: This is a classic, old-style mountain course that you could play every day without tiring of it. The par-4 third hole has been included on many best holes in the world lists and justifiably so. Linville doesn’t beat you up the way some courses can. It caresses you like a cashmere sweater.
6. Pinehurst No. 4: When this course was remade by Tom Fazio a few years ago, it went from good to excellent. It’s not unlike its sister, Pinehurst No. 2, in that it challenges you around the greens with its sweeping run-offs. The putting surfaces aren’t as contoured as No. 2 but reaching the greens asks a lot of players. There’s a reason the U.S. Amateur will use it next August.
5. Pine Needles in Southern Pines: Everything about Pine Needles oozes comfort. The lodge. The staff. The course. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy golf course. Pine Needles, as the Women’s Open showed, is a superb test that continually gives you fun shots to play.
4. Charlotte Country Club: It’s the old classic in Charlotte golf and figures to be even better when the current renovation is complete. With its huge trees and rolling layout, it has the feel of the clubs in the Northeast and it’s as good as anything you’re going to find. It tests every part of your game, charming you in the process.
3. Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte: There’s a reason the best players in the world play the Wachovia Championship every year - and it’s not the money nor the Mercedes they get to drive. It’s the golf course. Look at the list of winners in the five years of the Wachovia - David Toms, Vijay Singh, Joey Sindelar, Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods. It’s major championship worthy.
2. Grandfather Golf and Country Club in Linville: For sheer beauty, nothing matches Grandfather. It’s gorgeous. It’s always wickedly hard. Don’t hit it sideways because you’ll never find your ball in the rhododendrun and mountain laurel. Putting the always-slick greens is serious business, and the only bad thing about the stunning par-4 18th hole is it means the end of your round at Grandfather.
1. Pinehurst No. 2 (shown in photo): It’s golf at its purest. It’s not filled with dramatic beauty. It has just one small pond. But it’s where every great American golfer has played and it’s better now than ever. The genius in Donald Ross’ design is in forcing players to play the correct shots into the greens, which are small works of art. It’s the kind of course where you can hit every club in your bag and the more often you play it, the more you appreciate it.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Posted by Observer Sports at 11:36 AM