Tee Off at Golf Courses in Central North CarolinaPine NeedlesPine Needles Lodge & Golf Club has hosted three U.S. Women’s Open Championships The Piedmont region is the center of North Carolina, nestled between its mountains and beaches, and the site of the state’s largest urban areas – which translates into a wealth of golf opportunities amid changing scenery. It’s possible here to play one afternoon among the pines of the Sandhills and the next morning walk a fairway framed by towering hardwoods. Anderson Creek Golf ClubSpring Lake North Carolina native Davis Love III sculpted a player-friendly course that pays homage to the artistry of Donald Ross in nearby Pinehurst, and fully capitalizes on the rolling terrain and lofty pines of the famed Sandhills. Strategy and club selection are important since Love’s design suggests proper lines and offers welcoming landing areas, but sand and water await wayward shots. The Golf Club at BallantyneCharlotte Reflecting its location near a major corporate park, the 4.5-star course at Ballantyne is all business. Gently sloping fairways shadowed by sizable trees keep you focused from the initial tee shot to the final approach to a green close enough to the resort’s hotel for guests to salute your closing efforts. Plus, good swings are built at the on-site and highly regarded Dana Radar Golf School. The Champions Course at Bryan ParkGreensboro This Rees Jones masterpiece features seven holes along scenic Lake Townsend, including a signature par 4 with its water-guarded green tucked at the end of a daunting peninsula. Consistently highly ranked by the major golf publications – including four stars on Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play” list – the Champions Course showed its stuff when it hosted the 2010 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. Duke University Golf ClubDurham The impeccable design of the course at Duke University reflects the belief of its creator, Robert Trent Jones Sr., that the holes were there just waiting to be grassed over and enjoyed since completion in 1957. It’s a classic parkland layout with ambling tree-lined fairways leading to subtle yet challenging greens, all lovingly renovated by Rees Jones to maintain the family tradition of playability. The adjacent Washington Duke Inn, with its Bull Durham Bar, adds to the luster. Grandover ResortMany of the greens complexes at Grandover's East Course were designed to give a stadium effectGrandover ResortGreensboro Whether you take on the East or the West course at Grandover, the overall tone is well-honed hospitality that perfectly reflects the rolling setting and welcomes all players. Always well-groomed, the Grandover courses feature two distinct 18-hole personalities – head out on the East and experience a traditional approach, while the West offers a links-style feel. And the resort’s spa is an ideal place to work out after-round kinks. Lonnie Poole Golf Course at N.C. State UniversityRaleigh In this golf-crazy state, it’s a true distinction when the North Carolina Golf Panel deems you 2010’s best new golf course. Designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer, this layout leans heavily on traditional Scottish elements gracefully blended into the natural terrain of the surrounding campus. It gets right down to business with an opening par 5 that features two bunkers waiting for misaligned tee shots. The closing hole resembles a geometry exam, with a passing grade dependent on a study of the best angles. Pine Needles Lodge & Golf ClubSouthern Pines Pine Needles is a pure Donald Ross classic, sculpted by the master in 1928 and host to three U.S. Women’s Open Championships (1996, 2001, 2007). The centerpiece of a true golf resort, the Ross vision remains clearly evident in the flowing corridors leading to those contoured green complexes with their often perplexing breaks. Female golfers enjoy not only the course but also the unique “Golfaris” fashioned by Peggy Kirk Bell, a charter member of the LPGA. No. 2 at Pinehurst ResortPinehurst Long acknowledged as one of America’s greatest courses, No. 2 was meticulously returned to the 1920s look and feel intended by Donald Ross, who made his home there, by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore. There’s no rough now, but sand, pine needles and native wire grass linger just off the fairways, giving the famous layout a ruggedly beautiful feel. Of course, the diabolical greens demand careful attention – the trained eye of a caddie helps. Tanglewood ParkClemmons The whole family will find fun things to do at Tanglewood Park, from swimming to horseback riding. But golfers must challenge the renowned Championship Course that has rightful claim to its name, having many greats walk its fairways during the years. In fact, it was here in 1974 that Lee Trevino edged Jack Nicklaus by a single shot to win the 56th PGA Championship. This expansive Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout is complemented by the Reynolds Course where narrow fairways demand accuracy. UNC Finley Golf CourseChapel Hill If you’re seeking a higher education, Tom Fazio provides a fitting lesson in creating an enjoyable links layout at UNC Finley, which also is home to the university’s golf teams. The false fronts and forbidding bunkers that characterize a Fazio design are present, but the risk-reward aspects are reasonable in keeping with the designer’s commitment to playability for all players. Five well-situated sets of tees further enhance the course’s flexibility and fun-factor. Gary Carter is an Asheville-based travel writer who covers a range of topics for magazines, online publications and his blog, Eliot’s Tales 4 Gen B.