A hacker's view of Triangle-area golf courses, hard and not so hard. From the course conditions, to my favorite holes, I'll be as thorough as I can be.
May 6, 2013
Course: River Ridge in Raleigh
Play: Back at River Ridge for the first time in a while.
There are some short par 4s that you can reach in two, but the hole placement will make you think twice. There are some very pretty par 3s with undulating greens to keep you honest.
Overall, the greens were in superb condition. No. 10 is narrow, and sits next to the driving range. It can be very difficult to find your golf ball if you miss the fairway to the right, because at first glance, they all look the same. It’s a great hole for a yellow golf ball.
Worth Noting: This is a public course with a lot of character. I was reminded why I like it so much. And $45 after 2 p.m. is not bad.
May 3, 2013
Course: Mid South is the partner course of Talamore in Southern Pines. At first glance you say wow! Beautifully adorned and manicured, with a lot of hills.
Play: Not sure if you can walk or not. My advice: don’t. The course conditions were ideal. Brush up on your sand play. There are bunkers everywhere you look. I thought after the round, it would have been nice to have played this course before, to learn the nuances. Or, at least, have hole diagrams so first timers can learn at the go. All in all, one of the nicest courses I’ve played in the Sandhills.
Worth Noting: There is also a lot of trouble on this golf course. Although, my instructor would tell me not to dwell on the negative. So, I’ll couch it by saying there is a lot of green fairway on this course with a lot of risk-reward holes. Not so much on No. 10 though. It’s very narrow. You should also say a prayer before your tee shot on No. 15, the last par-5. It’s very narrow and long.
Mar 19, 2013
Course: Chapel Ridge in Pittsboro. One of the more beautiful courses in this area, especially when the leaves turn in October. It’s in the higher elevations of Chatham County, offering you wonderful views when you’re not looking at the fairway ahead of you.
Play: I played this course last weekend, the day of an amateur tournament. So it was a little slow going. It’s usually very smooth, without long wait times. Chapel Ridge will appeal to you, no matter how good you are. The greens are almost always in great condition. And because of the elevations, the course is usually dry. I’ve had some of my best rounds there and some of my worst.
Worth Noting: Even the grille at the turn is fantastic, with very friendly people. All in all, you can’t go wrong with this one and at an affordable price. If it seems as though I’m glowing about this course, I am. It’s one of my favorites.
Mar 12, 2013
Course: Lakeshore in Durham
Play: There was a biting wind that day, so it was a little chilly. The course is short, but there are several pins that will tempt you. I was fortunate enough to drive the green on a short par 4. As fate would have it, I 3-putted for par. Undeterred, I really enjoyed the round.
Worth Noting: The first thing you notice about this golf course is the driving range over water! The course is conveniently located, and the price is right at $32.
Feb 25, 2013
Course: Old Chatham, Durham
Play: First things first, it was wet Sunday. They received more than two inches of rain the day before, so conditions were not ideal. Still, you can tell this is a prime spot. I didn’t play very well, but then where’s the surprise there?
It’s a very fair golf course. If you hit it all over the place, you can find your ball. Trust me on that one.
They recently re-structured many of their greens. Now, there are undulations where you might not expect them. It makes you read your puts more carefully.
Being a private course, there weren’t many people out there (the wet conditions probably at work there too). It seemed like we had our own golf course for a while. This is a beautiful place. Coming down the fairway at 18 is memorable, no matter hwo poor you’re playing.
Worth Noting: This is a private course on the border of Durham and Chatham Counties. If you didn’t know if was there, you’d be hard pressed to find it. This is a golf club, plain and simple. No pools, no tennis, just golf. It’s exclusive, with a clientele to match.
Feb 19, 2013
Course: Crooked Creek in Fuquay-Varina
This one is intriguing on a number of levels. I’ve played it with people who swore they would never play it again because it was so difficult, but they came back anyway. There are so many risk-reward holes on this course, no matter how good you are.
Play: My favorite hole is No. 3. It’s a par 4 which temps you to go for the green off the tee. The problem is the lake between you and the green. If the wind is in your favor, or if you can hit your ball 250 yards, and make it stop on a dime, go for it! I’ve tried a few times, almost made it once. Anyway, the smart play is a 200-yard layup to the right, which leaves you between 150 and 100 yards left.
This course is so diverse and offers a little bit of everything. It’s hilly on the back nine, with some of the most beautiful holes you will see in this area, in my opinion. A downhill par 3 and an off-the-cliff par 4 come to mind.
Worth noting: If you’re straight off the tee, you will do well here. If not, get in line. I’ve had some of my best rounds ever on this course and some of my worst.
Feb 11, 2013
Course: Talamore Resort, a 7,020-yard course in Southern Pines
Weather conditions: Upper 40s, clear and windy. The chill in the air Sunday morning perhaps kept people away, because we basically had the place to ourselves.
Course: This was a beautiful course. Lots of sand, and rolling fairways. In fact, the fairways were quite hilly, which I didn’t understand. There were some challenging pin placements, but a very fair course.
Play: The course played longer than it would normally, because of the wind. It wasn’t one of my better rounds personally, horrible to be exact. Still, I liked the course a great deal. I love the green fairways in February that you find in the sandhills.
Worth noting: My favorite hole - No.18, having to cross the pond of the tee. There is a very generous landing area that I didn’t feel compelled to grab what I call a water ball. That’s an older golf ball I won’t mind losing if I hit it in the water.
The food was good, and quick, though everything is a la carte. You buy a sandwich, you buy chips and a drink to go with it. But the woman preparing the food was extremely fast and efficient.
We felt it was worth the drive from Raleigh. I’d like to play it again to get another crack at those greens. Of course I have to solve the tee shot first, having hit only one green in regulation on the par fours and
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Feb 7, 2013
Course: KNIGHTS PLAY, a par-3 course in Holly Springs (27 holes)
Weather conditions: Beautiful for Feb. 6. Temperature around 60, with a light breeze. The early morning chill kept a lot of people away, so we had no wait to speak of.
Course: Greens were fantastic. Only one of them not measuring up. They are working on it. Otherwise, they were rolling very true. Quite impressive. The tee boxes were very dry, but that's the weather right there.
Play: Didn't do too badly: 8-over 62 (par was 54).
I got lucky on a few holes, where I missed the green, but was close enough for an easy up-and-down.
This course has so many water holes, I played away from it purposely. But that caused me to overcompensate on the other side of the hole. However, this course allows you to do that without big penalties.
Worth noting: Food at the snack bar was very good, as usual. Driving range is massive. The people are very nice up there as well. I don't often think of KP, unless I'm short on time. The par-3 course is a great way to sharpen your short game.