If the Charlotte-metro area was a golf course, imagine University City area being the championship-winning 18th hole. Its wide range of varying courses would draw up the parameters of a rangy par-5, dog-legged hole stretching from Huntersville-Concord Road and twisting south and east to Cabarrus County’s eastern boundary. Positioned linearly on a map like Orion’s stars, Skybrook Golf Club, Highland Creek Golf Club and The Tradition Golf Club would serve as the hole’s set of tees in the north. Providing the fairway to the south along the Interstate 485 corridor would be Rocky River Golf Club, Paradise Valley Golf Course and Larkhaven Golf Club. As the newest of the region’s courses, Red Bridge Golf Club would be the flag-stick waving proudly at the 18th green.
A snapshot look at University City’s courses:
Larkhaven, located at 4801 Camp Stewart Road, is often considered to be one of the greatest golf values in all of Charlotte. You can play and ride 18 holes on the weekend for $46. Built in 1958, Larkhaven is the oldest public golf course in Charlotte. Assistant general manager Terry Austin says it is one of only two courses in Charlotte whose fairways are green year-round.
Owned by the city of Concord, Rocky River is located at 6900 Bruton Smith Blvd., minutes from other tourist attractions such as Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord Mills mall, and Great Wolf Lodge. Four sets of tees range between 4,754-6,970 yards for the 72-par course. Rocky River’s practice facilities are home to the Charlotte 49ers men’s golf team. The public facilities are complete with a putting and chipping green, four target greens, 30 grass teeing stations, and 20 artificial range stations.
Built in 2009 and taking the name of the covered pedestrian walkway that passes over the natural stream that winds through the property, Red Bridge's 72-par course has five sets of tees that span more than 6,700 yards. Located at 1700 Main Street West in Locust, Red Bridge is also home to the Charlotte Golf Academy instructional program. While lessons are available for all ages, special PGA-instructed camps and clinics are offered for youth.
For the casual or beginning player, Paradise Valley offers 18 “chip and putt” par-3 holes, all under 100 yards. A round will never cost more than $13, unless you want to rent a cart for $6 more. It’s located at 110 Barton Creek Drive, Charlotte, within walking distance of UNC Charlotte. Also on site is The Lost Duffer Miniature Golf Course ($5 for 18 holes), themed after a 19th-century mining camp.
The Tradition, Highland Creek, and Skybrook are all affiliated with The Carolina Trail, a collection of seven courses around the Charlotte region. The Tradition and Highland Creek are public courses while Skybrook, as a golf course real estate community, is considered to be semi-private. Starting with Highland Creek in 1993 and ending with Skybrook in 2000, the three of them opened within eight years of one another. All are par-72 courses that cover around 7,000 yards. While Highland Creek (7101 Highland Creek Parkway, Charlotte) and The Tradition (3800 Prosperity Church Road, Charlotte) have four sets of tees, Skybrook (14720 Northgreen Drive, Huntersville) has an area-best six sets of tees. The second longest set is named for course architect John LaFoy, who has designed courses throughout the southeast U.S. The Carolina Trail courses offer many of the same amenities as other area courses including instructional packages for adults and youth and practice facilities. For example, The Tradition has 35 grass tees and a chipping green with five flag-sticks and Highland Creek has a double-sided driving range with 30 tees.