If you’re new to the area and want to understand how golf and Charlotte go together, here’s the first clue:The U.S. Open championship trophy now resides in Charlotte.It belongs to Webb Simpson, who moved here two years ago. Maybe that’s more coincidence than correlation, but there’s no denying golf and Charlotte have a rich and long-standing relationship.More than half a dozen PGA Tour players – including Simpson, Johnson Wagner and Robert Karlsson – call Charlotte home.It’s also home to the prestigious Wells Fargo Championship each May at Quail Hollow Club and, starting this year, the calendar will include the Chiquita Classic, a Nationwide Tour event at the Club at Longview. Additionally, the Symetra Tour, the feeder system to the LPGA Tour, has an event at Raintree Country Club, and the eGolf Professional tour, one of the top developmental tours, is based here.Not to look too far down the line, but the 2017 PGA Championship is coming to Quail Hollow, and – if you don’t mind a two-hour drive – the 2014 men’s and women’s U.S. Opens are headed to historic Pinehurst No. 2.If you’re more interested in playing golf than watching it, the Charlotte area is blessed with plenty of quality courses, both daily-fee and private clubs.The area has an outstanding golf climate. With the exception of a handful of bitter winter days, the occasional rainy spell and the rare snowfall, golf can be played year-round here. Prime time may be the early fall when courses tend to be in their best condition and green speeds are at their quickest. But spring (signaled by the Masters) ignites an extended high season for golf around Charlotte.Among the most popular daily-fee courses are the Golf Club at Ballantyne; Springfield just across the state line in Fort Mill, S.C.; Birkdale on the north side of town; Rocky River near Charlotte Motor Speedway; Charlotte Golf Links; and Larkhaven.The Carolina Golf Trail is a collection of daily-fee clubs that offers annual membership packages allowing golfers to play one of several courses. The city also operates a handful of courses, including Renaissance Park and Charles T. Myers.If you’re willing to drive a little, the Pinehurst experience is two hours away, the North Carolina mountains are about the same distance and the Grand Strand area around Myrtle Beach is one of the most golf-rich destinations in the country.The Charlotte area also has an abundance of private clubs. Quail Hollow, Charlotte, Myers Park, Carmel are among the high-end clubs, along with Ballantyne Country Club, Longview and the recently renamed Trump National Charlotte (formerly The Point) along Lake Norman.Like the best courses, Charlotte offers a little of everything for the golfer.
Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012
Get in the swing with golf
Courses to consider The Golf Club at Ballantyne: This has been one of Charlotte’s most popular courses for many years. With an emphasis on service and course conditioning, Ballantyne is an ideal place for outings. With the adjacent hotels, it’s an excellent choice for out-of-town visitors as well. 704-248-4383; www.theballantynehotel.com/golf. Rocky River Golf Club: Located just off Bruton Smith Boulevard near Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, this Dan Maples-designed course offers one of the most diverse layouts in the area. With nice elevation changes and new Bermuda grass greens, it’s a good place to spend the day. And you might even hear the roar of race cars on the track nearby. 704-455-1200; www.rockyrivergolf.com. Springfield Golf Club: Situated just south of town off Interstate 77 in Fort Mill, S.C., Springfield is a Clyde Johnston-designed layout that quickly earned a reputation as one of the top daily-fee courses in the area. Located near the Catawba River, Springfield has 13 holes that play over or around feeder streams for the river, adding to the challenge of the well-maintained course. 704-499-9052; www.leroysprings.com.