North Carolina Sports Hall of Famer
Bill Hensley Writes About
"My Golfing Career"

Written by: Bill Hensley  

Bill Hensley with Hound Ears #9 green and clubhouse in the background.

As a veteran writer, promoter and player, I have been involved with the game of golf for sixty-six years, dating to my first round in 1950.  During that time I have played 231 of North Carolina’s nearly 600 hundred courses and an untold amount in other places in the states and abroad.

With that background, it is not surprising that interested people often ask me what my favorite in-state courses are. That’s an easy question.

Over the years, nine courses in particular have become my favorites, meaning  courses that I truly love and would enjoy playing every day for the rest of my life. They are,  in no particular order, Pinehurst No. 2, Charlotte Country Club, Hound Ears Club, Country Club of North Carolina’s Dogwood course, Pine Needles, Mid Pines,  Linville Golf Club, Biltmore Forest Country Club and the Old North State Club.

Six of the courses were designed by the famed Donald Ross, four  are in the Pinehurst area, four are in the mountains and two in the Piedmont area of the state.  I have been playing all the courses but one (Old North State) for forty years or longer.  I first teed it up at Biltmore Forest in 1951 and at Hound Ears in 1965, the year after it opened.

Couldn’t I come up with one more course to make it an even ten favorites?  No.  I looked at several courses that I like a lot but not enough to have them as one of the chosen few.  Those courses are Quail Hollow, Pinehurst Nos. 3 and 4, Cape Fear CC, Asheville CC, Grandfather, Blowing Rock and CCNC-Cardinal, all fine layouts that are must-plays for the avid golfer.

Bill Hensley playing golf with friends at Grandfather Mountain Golf Club in Linville, NC.

Non-North Carolina favorites would include Pebble Beach, Augusta National, Whistling Straits, the Dunes Club, Harbour Town and Sun Valley, while foreign courses would be Royal Dornoch, the Old Course,  Troon and Muirfield in Scotland; Tralee, Ballybunnion ,Doonbeg and Lahinch in Ireland; and Cape Schank in Australia.

My record shows that I have played in 21 states and 16 foreign countries.  A recent Golf Digest magazine article listed its version of the 100 best courses in the world, and I had played 22 of them

Never a low handicap player, I may hold one distinction:  I may be the only golfer to have more holes in one than eagles. I was lucky enough to make five aces, but I have made only four eagles. My lowest score ever was 78, which I have shot on five occasions.

As for a single favorite, that probably would be Charlotte CC, a Ross classic,  where I was a member for forty years and played often.  Hound Ears is a close second. The US Open will never be played at Hound Ears because it is too short and lacks the difficult challenges that an Open course must have. But it’s a fun course and a joy to play.  And isn’t that what the game is all about?