Resorts & Spas
The Badin Inn Golf Resort & Club
Visitors to the quaint hamlet of Badin, located 45 minutes northeast of Charlotte, are oftentimes struck by the seemingly out-of-place prominence of French Colonial houses and fleur-de-lis symbols, but it is not happenstance. A French company, L'Aluminium Français, can be traced back to the founding of this rural town with a modern-day population of less than 2,000 residents.
This Gallic influence remains on the local Badin Inn Golf Resort & Club after almost a century. The resort’s original 23-room clubhouse was erected by L'Aluminium Français for its employees in 1913. After recent renovations, it now serves as the principal overnight lodging at this getaway destination just outside of Albemarle. The prime accommodation at the Inn is the Adrien Badin Suite, named after the French company’s turn-of the-20th-century president and the town’s namesake. It is a two-room suite featuring a king-sized four-poster bed in a private bedroom and a pull-out queen-sized sleeper sofa in the living room. There is a private bathroom and the suite is decorated with a mix of period furnishings.
Another likely influence on the Badin Inn and development of its grounds was an already successful resort located a short trip away in the scrubby pines of Moore County. Many have accurately dubbed the Badin Inn Golf Resort & Club as a “mini-Pinehurst.” The look and feel of the Badin Inn and its surrounding property do share a strong resemblance – on a compact scale. That Pinehurst is less than 60 miles away suggests that more was at play than sheer coincidence in the architectural and landscaping similarities.
The Badin Inn features stately front columns supporting a covered, sprawling wraparound porch. Potted ferns and plentiful rocking chairs provide a prime location to soak in the surroundings, read a book or do just about nothing if that is the top priority. A trio of bay windows on the second floor accentuates the main entrance to the cozy Inn. The interior features gleaming hardwood floors and a stacked stone fireplace as a central meeting place in the first-floor lobby.
The Inn offers meeting and banquet rooms that regularly host weddings, receptions and other social and business gatherings. The resort offers a variety of overnight accommodations. They range from suites in the Inn to town homes and condos.
The town of Badin has evolved from its industrial past. L'Aluminium Français came to simultaneously build a smelting plant and construct a dam on the nearby Yadkin River. American-based aluminum manufacturing giant ALCOA purchased the French company’s assets at the start of World War I. However, the sprawling plant across Highway 740 remains but has been mostly silent in recent years. Nowadays, the town and the Badin Inn Golf Resort & Club thrive as a bucolic escape for couples and families seeking to temporarily flee nearby cities to a more relaxed pace.
Golf and the other golfing Palmer
Golf has long been a primary pursuit at the Badin Inn and it offers a colorful history. Johnny Palmer – no relation to Arnold – learned the game as a child on the course that originally opened in 1924. Palmer went on to win eight professional golf events, played in The Masters 13 times and was a member of the winning U.S. side in the 1949 Ryder Cup. Palmer’s sons are current members of the club and gladly regale visitors with stories of their father’s exploits over a beer in the Johnny Palmer Pub & Grille. Golfers including Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan have reportedly stayed and played the Badin Inn golf course over the years. While we’re name-dropping, iconic Hollywood celebrities Mae West and W.C. Fields both stayed at the Badin Inn while performing in their heydays at the Badin Opera House.
Debate continues on whether golf course architect Donald Ross (based in Pinehurst) had a hand in designing the Badin Inn golf course, but his influence was surely felt. One of Ross’s Pinehurst design associates, V.C. Edminster, routed the Badin layout, which, at the time, represented just the 19th course ever built in North Carolina. Ellis Maples redesigned the course in 1960. New management at the club has committed to ongoing restoration projects on the historic layout.
Golf is the main diversion, but there are a host of other activities to partake of both at the Badin Inn Golf Resort & Club and in surrounding Stanly County. The club features four Har-Tru tennis courts, a fitness center, golf driving range, a putting green and a large pool.
Badin, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is wedged between Badin Lake and Morrow Mountain State Park in the heart of the Uwharrie Mountains. Geologists claim the Uwharrie chain was once the tallest in the Western Hemisphere – towering well above the more recently formed Rocky Mountains – but eons of time and erosion have radically lowered their prominence. The range’s highest point now tops out at less than 1,000 feet.
Morrow Mountain State Park offers significant hiking opportunities as well as boating, kayaking, horseback riding, camping and fishing. There is also still gold in these hills. North Carolina led the nation in gold production prior to finds in California in 1849. The Reed Gold Mine in nearby Midland is the site of the first documented gold discovery in the country. Visitors can tour the underground tunnels and pan for their own golden nuggets. Tours are also available at mines just down the road in New London. Several wineries in Stanly County offer tours and wine tasting, including Uwharrie Vineyards, Dennis Vineyards and Stony Mountain Vineyards & Winery.
Other family entertainment options include taking in a movie at the historic Badin Road Drive-In Theater, touring local museums and art galleries, and antique shopping in Badin, Albemarle and other surrounding towns.
Horse lovers should consider a visit to The Fork Stables in Norwood, which offers clinics, coaching and seasonal world-class equestrian events. And lovers of horsepower cannot miss what is called the Oakboro Cruise-In. Held every fourth Friday of the month, an average of 5,000 classic car owners motor in to Oakboro to cruise the town and show off their vintage vehicles.
By Patrick Jones
By Patrick Jones
added: December 20, 2008
updated: January 14, 2009