The State of North Carolina and the Southern Pines / Pinehurst area have claimed the phrase “Home of American Golf” and perhaps rightly so. While it is easy to make your initial decent into North Carolina to the Pinehurst Area, a little further research into the State with over 600 courses gives you many choices. From the coastal north Myrtle Beach overflow, to the unique setting on Bald Head Island and to the so often overlooked panoramic vistas of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains.
Speaking of overlooking, this is one property that you will not want to overlook, Grandover Resort and Conference Center! Your visit to North Carolina in search of golf may not take you near Greensboro – not all that far from Pinehurst – but maybe it should! I had become aware of Grandover a few years back and made the point of getting there this past spring and I’m certainly glad that I did!
As you get close, traveling on I-85 you will not miss Grandover. Captivated, you might miss the exit as we did. The sun was gleaming off of a massive 244 room structure that was the hotel.
“Hey Ricky, stop the car.” Ricky was getting tired of me saying this as we stopped on a few occasions to take some photos and video clips from the grandiose stone wall entrance of the property to the floral drive leading to the hotel and right into the lobby! This is where the getting spoiled part of your vacation starts. The staff’s attention to detail and superb southern hospitality exudes a pride of ownership which makes you never want to leave. Must have been why I left my passport behind…but that is another story!
The hotel has recently completed a major renovation to the tune of some $10 million and is ready to welcome you to an escape into casual elegance. Massive chandeliers and a striking staircase engulf you as you walk through the door, you can’t help but notice the beautiful artwork throughout the building, but the curiosity of why the lobby is home to a Draper Loom from a former Denim plant…huge amounts of denim were produced throughout most of the 20th century in the area…you will have to find out more on your own, after all this is about the golf! Right!?!
Grandover was the vision of Joseph Koury an avid golfer, who in the 60’s began to acquire rolling terrain along I-85 with a dream to develop a golf resort with surrounding residential areas. Although the Koury Corporation since its inception in 1952 has become one of the largest real estate companies in the Greensboro area, Grandover Resort opened in 1992 was his proudest achievement. Unfortunately Mr. Koury passed in 1998 but his Grand dream lives on forever.
The Resort’s courses, East and West, are both most challenging and are sites for Pre-Qualifying rounds of the Wyndham Championships and have hosted four Division III Men’s Golf National Championships and a Division I Regional in 2012. Although the host course of the Wyndham Championships is the neighboring and private Sedgefield Country Club, home for many of the players and the staging site for the event is Grandover.
Both layouts are challenging, the design of David Graham and Gary Panks. No ‘walk in the park’ golf on either of these, you will need to make shots to have a good round. You are going to love the stonework; bridges, underpasses and tee markers throughout both courses!
We played the West Course first, somewhat of a links style with the naturally rolling terrain and elevation changes. Fairways are not overly expansive but fair, you will notice a creek crisscrossing them and a number of doglegs to add some shape to your shots. Not overly long by today’s standards measuring 6800 yards from the championship tees, but then, it does not need to be.
The East is the longer of the two stretching out over 7,100 yards and more forgiving off the tee.
Similar in terrain, plenty of pines and hardwoods lining the fairways and maybe a few more wetlands to deal with. Take note of what might seem like the easiest hole on either course. The par 3 – 12th at only 125 yards is a multi-tiered green that loves to funnel even the best shots to a waiting pot bunker. Enjoy the stunning visuals leading to the 18th green.
After your round you might just want to have a cold one at the 19 & Timber bar adjacent to the Pro shop and your cold one doesn’t need to be a pint. We opted for margarita appetizers and they make a mean margarita… Just one though, then beer! Although membership by most club standards here is low and golf in the area is plentiful, a brilliant concept “Griffin Club” was introduced by Director of Golf Jonathan York – a loyalty program that has become an overwhelming hit with the surrounding Greensboro golf community. You will no doubt meet some of the locals at 19 & Timber – we did!
Dinner is served! If there is a dining spot in a resort that has the word “Bar” in it you can rest assured that I will give it a shot.
Not surprisingly the bar staff here were as vibrant as the atmosphere within. 1808 Bar at the back end of the lobby was our stop for a pre-dinner martini but once it was established that at the bar we could get the same wine and the same steak as from the kitchen of the award winning DiValletta Restaurant it was a slam dunk that we were going to stay cozied up to bar. It was a fun night!
If you are at the resort for a few days and want to go off site for a meal or two I would highly recommend a visit to the small town of Jamestown, about a 10 minute drive, with many options for local cuisine. The Full Moon Oyster Bar and Seafood Kitchen was highly recommended and lived up to all expectations. Oysters to start and Sea bass to finish off with a nice La Crema Chardonnay!
The Grandover Resort & Conference Center Golf & Spa is located on the outskirts of Greensboro where I-85 and I-40 meet. Recognized as the Greater Piedmont Triad Metropolitan Area also known for being the furniture capital of the world.
Such an accessible, convenient and classy spot, Grandover has many options for your next vacation http://grandover.com/packages-and-specials/
For us golfers the Golf Getaway or The Grand Experience might just do the trick! Spa and romantic getaways are also available.
So what do you think? Is it time to put some GRAND into that next vacation?