Gazing and Golfing at
Grandfather Mountain in Linville, NC

Introduction by: Ed Stone
Story content provided by Grandfather Mountain Staff

Harris Prevost (right) knows the Grandfather golf course like the back of his hand...a single digit handicap player.
Families looking for a great vacation spot with some golf sprinkled in should look seriously at North Carolina’s High Country. Grandfather Mountain is one of the area’s most popular attractions along with some of the Southeastern United States most beautiful scenery.

Golfers will find plenty of beautiful courses to play nearby such as Mountain Glen in Newland, the Boone Golf Club in Boone and a fine executive 18-hole course, Sugar Mountain, about four miles away. Beech Mountain Club is private, but if you stay in one of their rental homes of club members, you can play the course. Recently the course was rated the second best in North Carolina by the NC Golf Panel, an organization that ranks the state's top 100 courses each year. Grandfather trails only the famed Pinehurst No. 2 course, which is quite an honor.

Recently, I had the opportunity to play the Grandfather Golf Course with a long-time friend, Harris Prevost. Harris is a single digit handicap player. He consistently hits the ball long and accurate. He chips and putts just as well as he hits his long game. Harris is also vice president at Grandfather Mountain, the attraction.


Having made my career in the resort and attractions business, Harris and I have pretty much grown up in this business together. At several meetings of tourism associations, we’ve played golf together and come to respect each other’s occupation. But when it comes to playing golf, Harris Prevost is at least 18 to 20 strokes better.

On a perfect summer’s morning, we gathered at the Grandfather Golf Club and began to play for the second time in my life this magnificent golf layout. From the first tee box to the 18th green, he would hit some of the most accurate shots you would dream about. I struggled to keep in the same league as he, but he was most gracious in suggesting where to place a tee shot or a lay-up shot and especially helpful on reading the greens. Without those helpful hints and recommendations, my score would have been at least 10 more than what appeared on my scorecard. All in all, it was a most relaxing and enjoyable game played on one of my favorite golf courses with one of my favorite golfing buddies.

Ellis Maples built the Grandfather course in 1967. He and his father, Frank Maples had worked as construction superintendent for Donald Ross back in the early 1900’s.

Ellis Maples built the Grandfather course in 1967. He and his father, Frank Maples had worked as construction superintendent for Donald Ross back in the early 1900’s. Ellis also was architect for the Dogwood Course at the Country Club of North Carolina and the No. 5 at Pinehurst Country Club, both at the Pinehurst Golf Resort. Plus, he designed many more golf courses in and around the North Carolina area.

After our round of golf, Harris afforded us lunch and a tour of the beautiful Grandfather Mountain attraction. At lunch we had the opportunity to meet the new Executive Director of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, Penn Dameron, a most affable gentleman. He loves the area and obvious he has a passion for his job. Penn was a lawyer and a circuit judge; prior to taking over his current position, her was Executive Director of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. He is also an accomplished musician in his own right.

The Grandfather Mountain attraction goes back 1.1 billion years ago. “Today the mountain you see is the end product of two things, the mountain building that culminated 300 million years ago and the erosion that has been ongoing for over 100 million years and continues today,” stated Dameron.

“The original Cherokee name for the mountain was "Tanawha," meaning "a fabulous hawk or eagle." It was named "Grandfather" by pioneers who recognized the face of an old man in one of the cliffs. Many vantage points reveal different faces, so there is no one official profile of the mountain, but the most popular can be seen from the community of Foscoe, seven miles north of Linville and 10 miles south of Boone on NC 105.”

ABOVE: The natural setting at Grandfather Mountain is most inspiring.
BELOW: The 228-foot suspension bridge spans an 80-foot chasm at more than one mile in elevation. Surveys show that the journey to the other side is always considered the highlight of a trip to Grandfather Mountain.

In the 1760’s, Daniel Boone was known to hunt in this area and French botanist Andre Michaux climbed Grandfather Mountain in August of 1794. He wrote in his journal: "Reached the summit of the highest mountain in all of North America, and with my companion and guide, sang the Marseillaise and shouted 'Long live America and the Republic of France, long live liberty!'"

The Calloway Peak on Grandfather reaches some 5,946 feet above sea level. Michaux did not know at that time Mount Mitchell (elv. 6,684 feet), located 40 miles south in the Black Mountain range, is the highest point in Eastern America. And, Roan Mountain (elv. 6,285 feet), located 20 miles to the west, is the highest peak in the Unaka Mountains.

John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, visited Grandfather in September 1898. Muir had been ill with a bronchial cough for many months, but after climbing Grandfather he wrote to his wife, "the air has healed me. I think I could walk ten miles and not be tired." According to an article in American Museum Journal, he fell into poetic raptures over the view from the top, saying "I couldn't hold in, and began to jump about and sing and glory in it all."

Samuel T. Kelsey, who founded the resort town of Highlands to the south, approached Donald MacRae of Wilmington, N.C., in 1885 about developing a town in the Linville River Valley. Kelsey had bought options on 16,000 acres that included Grandfather, Sugar and Flattop Mountains (now Linville Ridge).

The MacRae family eventually acquired controlling interest in the project and Donald's son Hugh was elected to head the Linville Improvement Company. He built the Yonahlossee Road from Blowing Rock to Linville in 1892 (now US 221) and developed North Carolina's first mountain golf resort at Linville.

In early times a horseback trail wound its way up the slope of Grandfather to an overlook at "Cliffside." In the early 1900s, the trail was widened to a one-lane road that could be traveled by automobiles. A wooden platform was constructed and a nominal toll was charged to those who wished to drive up and see the view.

After the dissolution of the Linville Company in 1952, Hugh MacRae Morton became the sole owner of Grandfather Mountain. He immediately widened the road to two lanes and extended it to the summit where he built the Mile High Swinging Bridge.

In 1968, Morton purchased one male and one female black bear with the intention of letting them loose into the wild.

In 1968, Morton purchased one male and one female black bear with the intention of letting them loose into the wild. The female bear, named Mildred, refused to revert to the wild and Grandfather Mountain was required to recapture her and keep her enclosed for her own safety. At first, Mildred met the public at a roadside amphitheater four times every day. Then, in 1973, a beautiful Environmental Habitat was built for Mildred and her family. The habitats have since been expanded to include river otters, deer, cougars, bald eagles and golden eagles.

In 1989, Grandfather Mountain began working with the North Carolina chapter of the Nature Conservancy to preserve 1,460 acres of the mountain's wilderness backcountry. In 1992, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization selected Grandfather for recognition as a member of the international network of Biosphere Reserves.

When Hugh Morton died in June 2006, his heirs vowed to continue his mission to preserve and protect Grandfather Mountain in its natural state. In September 2008 they announced a plan to sell the undeveloped "backcountry" of Grandfather to the state of North Carolina for a state park. In the summer of 2009, the Morton family began the process of transferring the operations of the travel attraction to the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. The new non-profit organization will continue to make the property accessible to the public and will devote all resources to preservation, conservation, education and recreation.

Grandfather Mountain is:
* Elevation 5,946 ft above sea level
* a scenic travel attraction
* a globally recognized nature preserve

“The original Cherokee name for the mountain was "Tanawha," meaning "a fabulous hawk or eagle." It was named "Grandfather" by pioneers who recognized the face of an old man in one of the cliffs.
"the air has healed me. I think I could walk ten miles and not be tired." John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club.

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is:
* a not-for-profit corporation established to
o preserve Grandfather Mountain
o operate the nature park in the public interest
o participate in educational and research activities

One ticket price includes everything:
Guests purchase tickets (one ticket per person) and drive their own vehicles through the park, stopping along the way to enjoy a variety of activities. All proceeds from sales of tickets and souvenirs go toward caring for and presenting Grandfather Mountain in a manner that inspires good stewardship in others.

Main Attractions:
* Beautiful mountain scenery
* Mile High Swinging Bridge
* Environmental Habitats for native wildlife
  + Black Bears, River Otters, Cougars, Eagles and Deer
* Nature Museum
  + excellent exhibits about the natural history of the region
  + theater that shows nature movies made on the Mountain
  + restaurant and gift shop
* South's best alpine hiking trails
  + More than 12 miles of regularly maintained trails ranging in difficulty from easy nature walks to strenuous backcountry challenges.
* Picnicking
  + Over 100 picnic tables and grills are scattered throughout the park. The picnic area located on the right about 1/3 mile up the summit road is equipped with a water fountain and restrooms.
  + Guests are welcome to bring their own picnic. Those who have not planned ahead can purchase fried chicken or sandwiches to go from the Museum restaurant.
* Naturalist Programs
  + Special activities and programs with the Mountain's naturalists are presented daily during the summer months and are included in the price of admission.
  + Guided tours and guided hikes with the Mountain's naturalists are available for an additional fee. Phone 828-733-4326 for reservations.

Grandfather Mountain
P. O. Box 129
2050 Blowing Rock Highway
Linville, NC 28646
Phone: 828-733-2013
General E-mail:
Hiking E-mail:
Animal Habitats E-mail:
Naturalist E-mail: