Golf With Altitude
Buddies, Birdies and Brews in Asheville
While still known as the eclectic “Paris of the South,” quite a few locals and visitors now prefer Asheville’s anointed status as “BeerCity USA,” with the city beating out perennial powers in the voting for the second straight year. Which means you can plan a golf outing here that efficiently combines buddies, birdies and brew. And, yep, you can toss in some gambling and cigars, if desired.
Steering west out of Asheville will take you to one of the state’s newest and most-discussed courses, Sequoyah National in Cherokee. You’ll definitely enjoy dramatic views, but this Robert Trent Jones, Jr. creation is a 6,700-yard roller-coaster thrill ride not for the faint of heart. And if your group’s five-buck Nassau doesn’t satisfy your gaming instincts, you can make a pit stop just down the road at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel.
After a hard day on the links (and maybe in the casino), Asheville offers plenty of places to wet your whistle with over 50 hometown beers crafted by nine local breweries, with many within easy walking distance (a good thing) of downtown lodging. You can go to the source at Lexington Avenue Brewery (known affectionately as The Lab), Asheville Brewing Company, Craggie Brewing Company and Wedge Brewing. Or pull up a stool at places where 20, 30 or more taps flow freely, such as Barley’s Taproom, Jack of the Wood, Thirsty Monk, the Bier Garden and numerous others. Or put the boys on the bus for a Brews Cruise that takes you for a three-hour behind-the-curtain peek at the alchemy of craft brewing, not to mention plenty of free samples. If you seek brew nirvana, venture only as far as Asheville’s renowned Bruisin’ Ales where over 900 beers await in a shop whose passionate staff practices “beerlanthropy.”
At some point, food naturally becomes an issue, and Asheville is foodie heaven with virtually every type of cuisine imaginable, from good down-home cooking to tidbits from Tibet. A strong commitment to local products underlies culinary creativity that ensures your taste-buds a rousing good time (and, by the way, many chefs now pair local brews with dishes).
So, for an all-around good time in a beautiful setting, gather the buddies and promise birdies and brews in BeerCity USA. Bet they’ll sign up.
Despite its mountain setting, Asheville enjoys a temperate climate with four distinct seasons, which means you generally can play golf roughly nine months of the year, maybe more if you’re willing to bundle up. During warmer months, remember to be prepared for afternoon showers that can pop up quickly.
Plenty of Courses to Choose From
Once based in town, you’ll find a number of excellent courses within easy driving distance and ready to welcome groups. These range from private clubs that offer limited outside play to a 2,573-yard, par 3 course that will test your short game talents. To research your options, check out the Explore Asheville visitor guide and website.
Lodging and Walking
One of Asheville’s charms is its walkability, which can be important if you’re planning serious sampling of the city’s craft brews. For upscale accommodations, there’s the Haywood Park Hotel, while Hotel Indigo is a snazzy new boutique hotel. The Renaissance Asheville offers complete services in a close-in setting, while the Four Pointes Sheraton provides a convenient location at reasonable prices. Numerous other lodging choices are situated along Tunnel Road, just minutes from downtown.
If you need some tunes to wind down after a tough day on the links, Asheville’s clubs and bars can fill the bill with just about any kind of music you desire, from old-time bluegrass jams to big names at the beloved Orange Peel. The best way to scope out the scene is by picking up copies of Mountain Xpress or Take 5, which publish detailed weekly calendars and also post them on their websites. Or just stroll around and check out the sounds wafting out the doors.
Puff on a Stogie
If a good cigar is an integral part of your golf experience, drop in Carolina Cigar Company (across from the always popular Mellow Mushroom) where you’ll find a broad selection and knowledgeable staff ready to light you up.
Buy Local, Eat Local
Asheville’s culinary scene is strong and creative, with something for every taste, preference and wallet. There’s a strong commitment around town to local products and farm-to-table freshness. And in a community that takes pride in its food, there just aren’t bad choices because this selective market doesn’t bear it. Ask around, or take a walk and check out menus. A few to consider are Table and Market Place for nouveau flair, Cuccina 24 and Vincenzo’s for Italian, Bouchon for French and Mela for Indian, Wasabi for sushi, Zambras and Cúrate for tapas, Tupelo Honey and Early Girl Eatery for southern-based fare, and Over Easy for a healthy breakfast. If that hot dog you had at the turn is barking at you, do something good for yourself at Laughing Seed Café, which bills itself as “a global fusion vegetarian restaurant.” But here’s the kicker: After indulging in healthy food choices, you can go straight down the stairs into Jack of the Wood for a pint of locally brewed Green Man Ale.
Cocktails and Wine
After sampling the local ales, the occasion might call for a cocktail. Visit Carmel’s, Sazerac, Posana, Storm Rhum Bar or Solace (also one of the town’s best people-watching spots) where bartenders know their mixology and like to experiment. Wines are the primary focus at 5 Walnut, Santé, Vinsite and Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, with all offering numerous options by the glass. The latter also has thousands of used books for browsing and purchase (including some golf volumes).
A Little Something for Home
Sometimes it’s a good idea to return from an extended golf outing with some little trinket or souvenir for the ones left behind. Asheville has plenty of shops and boutiques filled with local arts and crafts--such as Woolworth Walk with works from numerous artists and artisans—as well as funky fashions reflective of the town’s bohemian outlook. If truly desperate measures are called for, the gents at Roberto Coin Boutique can fix you up with a worthy bauble.
By Gary Carter
By Gary Carter
added: September 14, 2011
updated: August 6, 2012