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Cool Golf in Carolina Summers

GOLF

By Larry Gavrich, Founder & Editor,
Home On The Course, LLC

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The Cliffs at Glassy, Landrum, SC
Photo Credit: Larry Gavrich


Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, is often quoted as saying, “Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.”  Not true, at least for some Floridians.

Ten years ago, during a drive through the artsy mountain town of Brevard, NC, I was struck that the number of cars with Florida license plates rivaled those with North Carolina plates.  Clearly, Sunshine state residents were doing something about their brutal summer heat and humidity … and with good reason.  On a typical August day in Brevard and elsewhere in the mountains of North Carolina, the average daily high temperature is a warm but dry 82.  In Sarasota, FL, it is 90, with a heavy dose of humidity.

For golfers, there are plenty of choices in terms of short-stay resorts and seasonal (or year-round) golf community homes in the Carolina mountains.  Here are just a few notable options.

 

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Champion Hills, Hendersonville, NC
Photo Credit: Larry Gavrich


RESORTS

Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC
Asheville always ranks high on the lists of towns to visit (or live in) east of the Mississippi, and if you are going to splurge, it might as well be at a place like the Grove Park Inn.  Although some visitors grouse that the fees for use of services such as the spa are a bit pricey, and the inn can get a little crowded in the peak summer season, it isn’t every day you will find a deluxe resort with a Donald Ross designed golf course minutes from some of the coolest restaurants and taverns in the mountains.


Waynesville Country Club Resort, Waynesville, NC
First opened in 1926, Waynesville is by definition a little long in the tooth, and some reviewers have given the resort a mixed review.  (“Solid but dated” is the way one guest put it.)  But prices are incredibly reasonable for a summer stay in the mountains, nine of the 27 holes on the Waynesville golf course were designed by Donald Ross, and the local town of Waynesville is a charmer, with plenty of interesting shops and restaurants.  And for those who can’t leave home without their best friends, the resort welcomes pets.



STAY AND PLAY, SHORT OR LONG

Beech Mountain, Beech Mountain, NC
You’ll find the best of two worlds at Beech Mountain, located 40 minutes west of Boone.  You can spend a week or two in one of the many rentals inside the golf community’s gates and have privileges at the private Beech Mountain Country Club; and if you wind up loving the remote mountain lifestyle, you could opt to purchase one of the many reasonably priced condos or single-family homes and become a full-fledged member of the club.  Best of all, the average high temperature during the dog days of summer is 71, or about 20 degrees lower than most locations in Florida and more than 10 degrees cooler than on the Carolinas coast.

 
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Mountain Air, Burnsville, NC
Photo Credit: Larry Gavrich


GOLF COMMUNITIES

Mountain Air, Burnsville, NC
Mountain Air is a private golf community with altitude.  At 4,600 feet, the thin air on the Scott Pool designed golf course can make the average player feel like a hard-driving pro. Although the community is within a reasonable drive of Asheville, it could take more than five minutes just to get to Mountain Air’s front gate from many of the homes on the mountain.  But the views and the dramatic golf course are a small price to pay, and the ability to regale friends with stories about waiting to drive your golf cart across the community’s landing strip is unique.


Champion Hills, Hendersonville, NC
Famed golf designer and Hendersonville native Tom Fazio did some of his best work on his hometown layout for Champion Hills, a well-established golf community just minutes from a full-service town and only seven miles from the famous Flat Rock Playhouse.  The golf course was carved into a valley between the hills, with the community’s well-appointed homes looking down to the fairways.  The golf club’s board of directors conduct a strategic planning process that would rival that of the most organized corporations.  


The Cliffs at Glassy, Landrum, SC
The seven Cliffs Communities are strung out across the mountains and lakes of South Carolina, with one, Walnut Cove, located in North Carolina, just outside Asheville.  The 3,500-acre Cliffs at Glassy was its first, opening in 1991, and it combines all the best attributes of mountain living – breathtaking 75-mile views out across the Blue Ridge Mountains, cool summer temperatures, and a reasonable drive to one of the most popular towns in the Southeast, Greenville.  The Cliffs club membership is legendary, if somewhat pricey; for an initiation fee of $50,000, members gain access to six perfectly conditioned layouts within an hour of each other, as well as the most luxurious amenities any community offers.

 

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Balcomie Links, Scotland
Photo Credit: Larry Gavrich


A COOL INTERNATIONAL PLAY

If you want a more or less guaranteed cool weather experience in August, try Ireland or Scotland.  (As I write this, I am watching the Open Championship from Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland; the sun is shining and the pro golfers are all wearing long-sleeved shirts or windbreakers.)  I try to spend a couple of weeks each summer beside the North Sea in Scotland to escape heat in New England and play some of the best golf courses in the world.  

Short-term rentals there are as reasonably priced as many mountain resorts in the Carolinas, and unless you insist on playing only famous courses in Scotland, the bargain green fees will surprise you.  Moreover, if you make a habit of visiting the Old Sod, you could be shocked at how reasonable an overseas membership is; I joined the Crail Golfing Society five years ago and pay $200 in annual dues.  For that, I receive eight free rounds of golf on the two outstanding Crail courses, the opportunity to bring guests for just 15 pounds sterling each, reciprocal privileges at other area courses and a location just nine miles from St. Andrews.  Weather is always a concern, but over 108 holes in the last three years, I have been rained on for just two holes.  Still, when I am in Scotland, my rain suit is always with me.

 


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