The central region of North Carolina is perhaps most known for its golf courses in the Pinehurst area – including the fabled Pinehurst No. 2 – but that doesn’t mean there’s not great golf to be played elsewhere in this area of our state.
These courses near Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Greensboro and more offer a wealth of interesting and challenging opportunities to test your game in a variety of settings.
1 Duke University Golf Club
1 Duke University Golf ClubDurhamSee on map
Take a magnificent layout created by one of the deans of American course design, Robert Trent Jones, combine it with a loving restoration by son Rees Jones, and you have an outstanding facility known as Duke University Golf Club. Unique elevation changes and mildly rolling terrain amid mature trees provide nuance on every shot. Adding to the property’s ambience is the gracious Washington Duke Inn.
2 Tobacco Road Golf Club
2 Tobacco Road Golf ClubSanfordSee on map
If you’re in need of a golf thrill ride, look no further than Tobacco Road Golf Club, where the late, great Mike Strantz let his imagination run wild. Often named among the toughest courses in the country, most players who’ve braved it will clue you in that it’s intimidating visually but offers a good time and test.
3 The Champions Course at Bryan Park
3 The Champions Course at Bryan ParkGreensboroSee on map
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 US Amateur Public Links Championship.
4 Hillandale Golf Course
4 Hillandale Golf CourseDurhamSee on map
In 1915, Ross designed the original layout at Durham’s Hillandale Golf Course, and subsequent designers included no less than highly respected Perry Maxwell and George Cobb. Hillandale is one of the most popular courses in our state due to its sensible fee structure and variety of holes. Expert advice on equipment can also be found here as its pro shop is routinely ranked one of the best in the United States.
5 Grandover Resort
5 Grandover ResortGreensboroSee on map
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.
6 Lonnie Poole Golf Course at NC State
6 Lonnie Poole Golf Course at NC StateRaleighSee on map
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.
7 Rock Barn Country Club
7 Rock Barn Country ClubConoverSee on map
Challenge holes on a layout styled by the internationally respected Robert Trent Jones Jr. The graceful design of the Jones Course takes full advantage of the rolling terrain with elevation changes, towering trees and abundant water providing plenty of suspense. Since the Jones Course is private, you must book a Stay & Play package to tee off here. Open publicly, however, the Jackson Course presents rolling fairways and changes in elevation throughout the course, appealing to golfers of various skill levels
8 The Championship Course at Tanglewood Park
8 The Championship Course at Tanglewood ParkClemmonsSee on map
This is an early Robert Trent Jones Sr. course that hosted the PGA Championship in 1974, won by Lee Trevino. Set in a magnificent public park among mature oaks, maples and other hardwoods, Tanglewood is generally considered one of the finest courses in the southeastern United States and a personal favorite of the prolific Jones.
9 UNC Finley Golf Course
9 UNC Finley Golf CourseChapel HillSee on map
Note: UNC Finley is undergoing a course renovation and is expected to reopen in late summer 2023.
If you’re seeking a higher education, Tom Fazio provides a fitting lesson in creating an enjoyable links layout at UNC Finley, which is also 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.