Enjoy Golf, Dining and Entertainment in the Mountains

Vann HelmsEnjoy Golf, Dining and Entertainment in the Mountains

Apple Valley Golf Course, designed by Dan Maples, is one of two 18-hole courses at Rumbling Bald Resort

General opinion says there’s something for everyone in Asheville, whether you prefer the town romantically known as the “Paris of the South,” or the one that held the title “Beer City USA” for four straight years, or the place voted “coolest town in the country.” Or maybe it’s the natural splendor and peaceful serenity of the mountains that attract you. The bottom line is Asheville is the ideal launching pad for a good-time, golf-oriented outing with the boys, the girls or combination thereof.

3-Day Itinerary

Day 1: Get in a round at the Grove Park Inn and take a stroll in downtown Asheville.

Day 2: Hit the road to a selected course, check out local arts and crafts, and explore the local craft breweries.

Day 3: Pick your links challenges, take your chances at the casino and then unwind to live music.

Day 1: Walk the Course, Stroll the Streets

To pack in as much fun and excitement as possible on your first day, stay close to town with a round at the tidy Donald Ross course tucked beneath the Omni Grove Park Inn. It’s an ideal walking track and, when you hoof it here, you’re following the footsteps of Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus. Sore muscles and kinks can be worked out at the inn’s massive spa, while food and beverage options abound – the evening views are spectacular from the Sunset Terrace.

Reserve the evening for a stroll along Asheville’s streets where you can always expect the unexpected, from street musicians on every corner to eclectic boutiques. Your exploration will provide numerous opportunities to sample the local cuisine that’s made the town a foodie heaven. Ask around, or take a walk and check out menus. A few to consider are Table and Rhubarb for nouveau farm-to-table flair; Cuccina 24 for Italian with a twist; Bouchon for French; Mela for Indian; or Wasabi for sushi.

While the brew scene is robust, the craft cocktail movement is potent as well. For a classy nightcap, belly up to the bar at Imperial Life, Social Lounge or Sovereign Remedies.

Day 2: Appeal to All of Your Senses

This is the day for a short road trip, both to enjoy the natural beauty and test yourself on a quality golf course. Run the world-famous Blue Ridge Parkway up to the highest peak east of the Mississippi and tee it up at Mount Mitchell Golf Club – where the backdrop is always gorgeous and you can even try to land a trout from the stream that runs through the course. You’ll receive a warm welcome at both Reems Creek and Cummings Cove after a scenic drive, followed by a pleasant outing on well-kept links.

For anyone not on the course, the Asheville area can indulge any and all senses. The vibrant local arts and crafts scene is well-represented in a host of local galleries. Check out Woolworth Walk, a converted five-and-dime store with a still-functioning old-time lunch counter, and Ariel Gallery, owned and operated by the exhibiting artists. Other top choices are the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Southern Highland Craft Gallery in Biltmore Village.

For pampering, book a treatment at Spa Theology or the Spa at Biltmore Village. If walking has your toes complaining, head straight to Wake, the “foot sanctuary,” in the Grove Arcade.

Back on the streets of Asheville for the evening, you can indulge in a range of fine wines and small plates at 5 Walnut or Santé. Or for the ideal amalgamation of wine, bubbly and books, sip and browse through thousands of volumes at Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar.

Then again, perhaps your merry band should explore Asheville’s heralded craft beer scene where more than a dozen breweries (and counting) are consistently turning out creative local concoctions. A trip down the South Slope will place you in proximity to enough breweries to keep you busy for the evening, or hop on one of the town’s guided brew tours for the inside scoop and a designated driver. If you want to explore the whole world of beer, head over to Bruisin’ Ales where you’ll be awed by more than a thousand selections and a passionate staff that practices “beerlanthropy.”

If you’re ready for something completely different, the purple LaZoom bus is a rolling comedy club onto which you can bring your own brew and are guaranteed an evening of laughs.

Day 3: Take a Chance

Flip a coin for which direction to head today for golf. Rumbling Bald Resort at Lake Lure features two 18-hole layouts carved into the mountains – Apple Valley and Bald Mountain – that present ample challenges and awe-inspiring views.

If you’re in the mood for a rock-and-roll links experience, venture out to Sequoyah National Golf Club near Cherokee, created by Robert Trent Jones II. It’s a roller-coaster ride with dramatic elevation changes that allow you to pause and take in the views, before again testing your game on rolling fairways and slick greens.

If you didn’t take enough chances on the course, your next stop can be Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, where you can try your luck at the tables.

To celebrate your final sunset in Asheville, jump in the antique elevator that takes you to the Sky Bar, where you can have a drink and watch the sun drop behind the mountains. Grab a quick bite at Wicked Weed, and then go in search of music.

Whether your taste runs to traditional bluegrass or on-the-edge alternative, you’re likely to find the tunes you’re looking for. Asheville’s Orange Peel is respected as one of the South’s top music venues, while Grey Eagle in the River Arts District brings in an array of talent. Over in funky West Asheville, Isis Restaurant & Music Hall is a wonderfully converted movie theater that serves up food and libations along with great music – drop in Sunday evenings for the weekly Jazz Showcase. To see who’s playing around town, grab a copy of Mountain Xpress.

If there’s any problem with a golf trip to Asheville, it’s that there’s too much to do and not enough time. Which is a fine excuse to do it all over again.

Enjoy all the area has to offer by mixing and matching activities and events to your particular interest. Be sure to check days and hours of operation for each venue.

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.


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