Golf With Altitude
Linville Golf Club At Eseeola Lodge
If ever a golf scorecard needed to be discarded prior to teeing off on the first hole, it is at the Linville Golf Club in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. How your game holds up against par on this spectacular High Country golf course is borderline irrelevant and missing the point. Architect Donald Ross artfully carved this mountainous golf sanctuary in 1924 using mules and drag pans as labor. He created a nature commune that happens to have 18 holes of golf subtly integrated into thickets of rhododendron and meandering, clear-running mountain brooks. Elevated tee boxes on the back nine provide panoramic views of nearby Grandfather Mountain that would have inspired the photographic eye of Ansel Adams. Errant shots in or near water provide up-close encounters with fattened mountain trout that swim in a protected catch-and-release environment.
Whether you shoot 68 or 108, a round on Linville Golf Club is meant to be savored like a filet mignon served at the club’s accompanying Eseeola Lodge.
Linville Golf Club has been inundated with national and regional awards for its fulfilling experience. Its par-4, 472-yard third hole was voted one of the “100 Greatest Holes in Golf” by Golfweek. The course was ranked in the Top 40 “Courses You Can Play” by Golf Magazine. The North Carolina Golf Panel annually votes Linville Golf Club among the state’s Top 10 courses (public or private).
Taking advantage of the Linville Golf Club comes with two requirements. First, a round must be scheduled between mid-May and mid-October. Its operating season is limited in this elevated region (3,800 feet) due to the early arrival of winter and the belated oncoming of spring. Such limited play normally assures pristine conditions at Linville Golf Club. Second, non-members wanting to access the course must book it as a package with overnight accommodations at the adjacent Eseeola Lodge. The deal is not for the frugal-minded golfer, but it is an experience worth the expense. The Eseeola Lodge, originally erected in 1892 and on the National Register of Historic Places, defines upscale rustic lodging. Its 24 rooms feature Old Hickory Furniture, down bedding, patchwork quilts, cotton robes, flat screen televisions, fresh flowers, turn-down service and even L'Occitane Bath & Skincare Products. The dining at Eseeola Lodge rates as exceptional. Dinner includes a four-course meal with a choice of seven entrees prepared by its executive chef and staff. The menu changes daily during the season, including a noteworthy seafood buffet on Thursday nights.
Along with the golf, Eseeola Lodge provides extensive spa services, fitness center, swimming pool, hiking trails and croquet. Nearby towns such as Linville, Boone and Banner Elk provide an array of shopping and entertainment options.
The Eseeola Lodge originally built several golf holes as a recreational pursuit for its guests as early as 1895, reportedly making it the first-ever golf facility in North Carolina. Additional holes were added at the turn of the century and the Linville Golf Club hosted tournaments as early as 1910. As golf grew in popularity, the renowned Ross was recruited in the 1920s from his home in Pinehurst to create the layout that exists today.
There is no trickery on this Ross’ course, one of approximately 45 the Scottish architect designed in the state, other than dealing with his patented domed putting surfaces that demand deliberate reads and deft touch. The primary challenge at Linville Golf Club is keeping your mind on your game in such an attuned-to-nature location. It is truly a good walk unspoiled.
By Patrick Jones
By Patrick Jones
added: December 19, 2008
updated: January 14, 2009