University City

Course is a diamond with a rough

The calm and quiet of a Saturday afternoon brings out neighbors with golf clubs in their trunks and backseats to The Tradition Golf Club to relax and tee off with relatives and friends.

Tucked away between the residential and commercial developments on Prosperity Church Road, the public golf course looks like gentle rolling fairways constructed in the middle of a forest.

Though Davis Lake-Eastfield area subdivisions surround the course, only one or two houses are visible from the greens. "It's a great course that's very challenging but not very long ... a typical tree-lined course with small greens," says general manager Chris Eichstaedt.

Eichstaedt has managed the course for 10 years as part of IRI Golf Group LLC. The company manages several local golf courses in addition to The Tradition, which is owned by the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department. During golf's professional tournament season, The Tradition is heavy with foot traffic. The course operates year-round, though its busiest months are the most temperate: April through June and September through October.

The 18-hole, par-72 course also features two putting greens, a driving range and a chipping green, benefitting all levels; however, the benefits of a public golf course aren't just for golfers.

"Property values will go up if the golf course is well-manicured and kept in good shape," said Eichstaedt. "It's just like going to a park; there's nothing like going to play golf. The beauty, the serenity - it's a relaxing atmosphere."

The club also arranges partnerships and events. It hosts public and private corporate tournaments, a senior league for those 55 and older, clinics for women and charitable fundraisers. Though it has seen a drop in major corporate business due to the down economy, The Tradition has shown an uptick in business from community organizations such as the Mallard Creek Optimist Club and other smaller groups. "The community supports us," says Ken Harris, grounds supervisor.

The focus of the golf club is not just fun and relaxation but also in learning the sport of golf. Several middle and high school golf teams use the course, among them Vance, North Mecklenburg and Mallard Creek high schools.

There is a wide offering of learning programs called Learning Centers offered by The Carolina Trail. They include the Get Golf Ready program for adults and the Junior Academy for ages 6-17.

The Tradition also promotes young people learning to play golf with discounted prices, and kids play for free after 2 p.m. with a paying adult. "We try to give kids something at a relatively inexpensive cost so they can learn," says Eichstaedt. "It's a game you can play until you're 80 or 90 years old."

For adults, The Tradition Golf Club's next public event is a two-person team captain's choice tournament called Birdies, Bogies and Beers on May 21. To register for the event or for more information on the course or programs, call the golf club at 704-503-7529 or go to www.thetraditiongolfclub.com.

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