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 nine courses near Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro offer a wealth of interesting and challenging opportunities to test your game in a variety of settings.
1 The Golf Club at Ballantyne
1 The Golf Club at BallantyneCharlotteSee on map
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.
2 Grandover Resort
2 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.
3 Lonnie Poole Golf Course at NC State
3 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.
4 Rock Barn Country Club
4 Rock Barn Country ClubConoverSee on map
Challenge the same holes that annually confront a stellar Champions Tour field on a layout styled by the internationally respected Robert Trent Jones Jr. The graceful design takes full advantage of the rolling terrain with elevation changes, towering trees and abundant water providing plenty of suspense.
5 The Championship Course at Tanglewood Park
5 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.
6 The Champions Course at Bryan Park
6 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 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
7 Tobacco Road Golf Club
7 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.
8 UNC Finley Golf Course
8 UNC Finley Golf CourseChapel HillSee on map
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.
9 Hillandale Golf Course
9 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 the 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.