Situated in the North Carolina Sandhills just east from the Home of American Golf better known as Pinehurst and Southern Pines, Fayetteville’s golf courses were constructed from the same topography of their world-renowned neighbors. Here is some insider’s golf knowledge to make the most of your next Fayetteville golf getaway.
Anderson Creek Golf Club – The state’s best new course in 2001 (celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year), this Davis Love III routing is said to be a reflection of his unassuming, mild-mannered personality. But don’t let that fool you into thinking you can just poke your way around this championship-style, 7,240-yard layout. You will be challenged by undulating fairways, contoured greens, penalty areas, water, and deep sand bunkers. Keep it in the short grass and play from the proper tees. Good luck tackling “The Gauntlet,” a stretch of four finishing holesthe staff has appropriately named – due to their combined difficulties and strategic shot requirements.
Bayonet at Puppy Creek – Due to its rolling, Sandhills location, the 7,056-yard layout – sculpted from lush woodlands and winding creek waters – Bayonet has always had plenty of sand at its disposal. In addition, the owner and operator of the facility, Carolina Turf Farms, Inc., ensures top-notch grass conditions on a daily basis. The main key to success is keeping it on the well-manicuredfairways. In the past few years, several of the underbrush areas have been cleaned out to the point where golfers can now actually play out of many of them, so be bold on this one. And why not? One of the great names in golf is also one of Fayetteville’s finest.
Baywood Golf Course – The 18-hole Baywood Golf Club facility is located near I-95 at exit 55, making the 6,763 yards of golf easily accessible for those traveling north and south along this popular thoroughfare. Designed by Stewart Gooden, the Baywood Golf Course opened in 1990 and is pretty straightforward. But, of course, the game is never THAT forthright so make sure you allow extra hit into the greens as nearly all are elevated. And naturally, stay away from the water – it shows up on 12 holes. Only a couple of holes are tight so you don’t have to leave your driver in the trunk.
Carolina Lakes Golf Course – A course offering an extremely fun golf experience that winds through majestic pines and rolling terrain. Considered to be one of the more enjoyable courses in the Sandhills area, Carolina Lakes prides itself in offering excellent conditions, a fair test of golf and great service. A shorter golf course by modern, Big-Bertha standards, Carolina Lakes defends itself withsmaller, undulating greens. The trick here is to be on the correct side of the hole as each offering protects itself verywell from 50 yards and in.
Cypress Lakes Golf Course – Located just off I-95 exit 41, the obvious hazards like cypress tree-laden ponds and bunkers are more visual than actually penal. Multiple major championship winner Raymond Floyd grew up on Cypress Lakes and splashed about in the bunkers at his father’s course on a daily basis. So read Floyd’s book on the elements of scoring (or the game from 60 yards in) before you go, and you might just come away from this championship-yardage design pleasantly surprised.
Gates Four Golf & Country Club – A decade ago, architect Kris Spence, careful not to disturb the original routing by Willard Byrd back in 1967, completed a remarkable restoration. Included in the Gates Four project were the addition of new bent-grass greens, renovated bunkers and improved playing conditions across picturesque fairways lined with a variety of hardwoods and pine trees. According to pro shop staff, Gates Four is “all about your tee shot.” Due to some low hanging tree branches making for a few pinched drives, accuracy is paramount. Keep it down the middle and maybe throttle back with club selection on certain tee boxes.
Highland Country Club – The 18-hole Highland Country Club in Fayetteville is a private golf course that opened in 1945. Designed by Donald Ross, Highland measures 6,732 yards from the longest tees. For Donald Ross fans looking to play every one of his courses across the state, the best tip here is to find someone who is a member and make them a believer out of your bucket-list aspirations.
Keith Hills Golf Club – Ellis and Dan Maples designed this 1970s-era, 27-hole layout set in primarily wooded and rolling terrain. Set along the banks of the Cape Fear River, it is the home of Campbell University’s golf facility. The three nines include the Orange, Bland and White Courses. The greens are large and sloped so spend some time practicing that part of your game before teeing off. Once out on whatever 18-hole combination you choose, you canthen putt for dough.
Kings Grant Golf & Country Club – The Jim Holmes-designed classic is an early 1990s layout that is set on rolling, wooded terrain bordered by houses. As a product of Jack Nicklaus Design, Holmes tries to lull you asleep as you gaze out at the beauty of the course. Though you must try to stay focused, you are not playing Gary Player. Keep your ball down the middle as the fairway lays for you and fly your ball to the center of each green on approach. If youcan’t contain yourself and choose to test the corners and fly over the tall pines that sit as green guardians, you may needa Nicklaus-type fade to go really low.
Ryder Golf Course – As far as military golf goes, well, Ryder is well equipped to disarm any threat of total domination. This beautiful 18-hole layout at Fort Bragg is set among tall Carolina Pines and rolling hills. Water comes into play on several holes and small, undulating greens helps with its strategic defenses. Bunkers on the layout are tactically positioned and can be deep at times. This original 1930 design by C.C. McCusion is located in the center of the massive Army post and home to “The Divot” restaurant. The best hole is perhaps the 195-yard fifth where golfers have to navigate a tee shot over water to a green heavily guarded by bunkers. The risk-reward Ryder track was once the Officer’s Club Golf Course.
Stryker Golf Course – In 1946, Donald Ross designed Stryker and the classic design features undulating greens, tree-lined fairways and strategically positioned bunkers. It has only one hole with water on it. Don’t let the occasional helicopter flyover put you off your game. After all, that is the sound of freedom. The most memorable offering, perhaps, is Stryker’s fourth hole providing one of the few 600-plus yard holes in the area. Good luck trying to get home in two on this monster. Stryker has a Pinehurst feel to it, with towering pines and that classic Ross feel with smallish greens and strategic bunkering. At 6,641 yards from the tips, Stryker is a nice test and a must play for those who love Ross layouts. There’s not much trouble off the various tees as they lead to gracious fairways.