Golfing North Carolina’s High Country
North Carolina’s Western area is promoted and known as the High Country.
Story by: Ed Stone
Photos provided by Beech & Sugar Mountain
Beech Mountain's #10 requires a 200 yard drive to reach the landing area.
When golfers tee off with a landing area some 200-plus feet below, you know right away, you are in the High Country. The scenery here is just plain beautiful. The vistas of Grandfather Mountain, Blue Ridge Mountains and other ranges reach over 5,000 feet into the sky. They will take your breath away…and your golf balls that are not hit long and straight.
In the Banner Elk and Beech Mountain areas are two courses I had the privilege of playing recently. They are Sugar Mountain Golf Club and Beech Mountain Club. Both are somewhat of a well kept secret in mountain golf playing circles. There are a dozen or so other courses in this area and I would strongly suggest doing a bit of research to play some of them…many are semi-private. The Sugar Mountain course is open to the public. Beech Mountain Club is a private golf club. However, it is quite easy for visitors to play the course. You need only to stay at qualified lodging on Beech Mountain. About 75% of the properties on Beech Mountain offer golf privileges. To find a place to stay that provides golf access, call the Beech Mountain visitors center at (800) 468-5506.
Beech Mountain Club:
Beech Mountain's #5 hole, par 3, 170 yards
The Town of Beech Mountain is some 5,500 feet above sea level. The beautiful Beech Mountain Club is around 4,500 feet. Here you will discover one beautiful and challenging golf course. The Blue Ridge Mountains serve up some of the High Country’s most spectacular views from the deck of the Clubhouse, main dining room and bar. Whether you are staying at Beech Mountain or just visiting, be sure to plan a dining experience and enjoy some of their traditional mountain cuisine or fresh seasonal selections. There are several other casual lunch outlets including the Fairway Café and Pump House.
For the golfer, this is one more beautiful 18-hole ridge-top layout. The par 72, course stretches over elevations between 4,200 and 4,700 feet providing respite from summer heat with average temperature rarely exceeding 72 degrees. The layout at Beech Mountain Club opened in the late 1960s and underwent a tee renovation and lengthening project in early 2008 by architect Tom Jackson. The course – which now plays to 6,225 yards – is memorable for its ridge-top location with long-range vistas stretching to Tennessee and Virginia. You can even see Kentucky on the clearest days. The new practice facility allows for ample opportunity to improve your game and avail yourself of the professional staff and their teaching expertise.
Of note on this course are holes number 9 and 10. Both have elevated tees with demanding shots to fairly limited landing areas. Nine is a par-3, 170 yards from the whites with a small lake some 50 yards from the front edge of the green. Number 10 is a par-4 and stretches over 400-yards. Your tee shot is a forced carry of some 200 yards to reach the edge of the short grass of the fairway. The rest is up hill. All of the holes on this course are interesting, scenic and most challenging. You’ll love it!
Tennis buffs will thoroughly enjoy the 10 Har-Tru composition clay courts at Beech Mountain Club. Lessons and clinics for all ages are offered with reservations in advance.
If hiking and biking is your bag, then there’s more than 20 miles of hiking trails and some 50 miles of bike routes to be enjoyed.
Fishermen can cast their lines in Buckeye and Coffey Lakes which are annually stocked with trout. The annual Kiddo Fishing Derby is held at Buckeye Lake each June.
Sugar Mountain Golf Club:
Sugar Mountain golf course is one of the most delightful to play in North Carolina's High Country.
Sugar Mountain is a great surprise. This is an 18-hole municipal operation and often referred to as "Everyman's Golf Course" in a region home to some of the world's premiere private country club communities.
Designed by the late Frank Duane, longtime project manager for Robert Trent Jones, Sr., the executive course at Sugar Mountain features 9-par threes, 8 par fours and a single par five. Situated at an elevation of some 4,000 feet, the course features immaculate putting surfaces, hailed by those who play here as second to none. I can attest to the fact that the greens are some of the best I’ve experienced.
This beautiful golf course wanders through a verdant land rich in laurel, rushing streams and exploits every panoramic view the property possesses. Best of all, the course delivers an enjoyable experience for players of all skill levels. I can promise you will use every club in your bag on this affordable course. Rates vary during the season which opens early April and concludes the end of October. Walking specials are available every afternoon, as are twilight rates with cart.
The clubhouse offers a very nice selection of breakfast and luncheon items. I must comment on the friendliness and service of the staff…they are just wonderful and offers one more reason to make a return visit to play the Sugar Mountain Golf Course.
When looking for some scenic and challenging mountain golf, look to the High Country of North Carolina. You will not be disappointed with Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain. And, yes, there’s lots of snow skiing in the winter at both places.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Beech Mountain Golf Club
103 Lakeledge Rd.
Beech Mountain, NC 28604
Sugar Mountain Golf Club
237 Dick Trundy Lane
Sugar Mountain, NC 28604