A detour worth taking: Anderson Creek Golf Club in Spring Lake, North Carolina

By Jason Scott Deegan, Senior Staff Writer

Playing Anderson Creek Golf Club, Davis Love III's first design in North Carolina, is a great option for golfers who fly in and out of Raleigh-Durham International Airport one hour north.

Anderson Creek Golf Club - hole 18
Anderson Creek Golf Club was Davis Love III's first design in North Carolina.
Anderson Creek Golf Club - hole 18Anderson Creek GC - 4thAnderson Creek golf course - 5th
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Anderson Creek Golf Club

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When Anderson Creek Golf Club first opened in 2001 it was immediately recognized as the "Best New Golf Course in North Carolina." The course was designed by 1997 PGA Championship winner Davis Love III, it was his first signature design in North Carolina. It has a traditional layout that epitomizes golf in the Carolina Sandhills.

18 Holes | Public/Resort golf course | Par: 72 | 7240 yards | Book online | ... details »

SPRING LAKE, N.C. -- There are so many great golf courses in the Sandhills of North Carolina that it's easy to overlook one or two.

Golfers from out of town chase the usual suspects -- Tobacco Road Golf Club, Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club and Pinehurst Resort's No. 2, 4, 7, 8 -- without giving others much thought. That's just a mistake.

Golfers will be surprised at the value and quality they can find elsewhere in the region. Only its isolated locale about 45 minutes east of the village of Pinehurst keeps Anderson Creek Golf Club from being more recognized.

Anderson Creek Golf Club: The course

Anderson Creek, awarded four and a half stars by Golf Digest's "Places to Play" ratings, was Davis Love III's first design in North Carolina, opening in 2001. Love, an underrated architect with a world top 100 course to his credit (Diamante in Los Cabos, Mexico), used all the signature elements that make the Sand Hills so ideal for golf, the rolling terrain, sandy soil, and tall, longleaf pines.

A well heeled neighborhood surrounds the 7,215-yard course, although the magnificent houses never come into play or intrude upon the natural setting. The routing follows a figure-eight around the stately Southern-style clubhouse. The elevated tees and twisting fairways, scarred by just enough water hazards to keep things interesting, are mere distractions until the real fun starts on the greens.

They're probably a tad over-cooked with ridges and humps. I'll say this, though: They're never dull. Coming away with just a three or two-putt should be considered a victory.

Anderson Creek's front nine comes at players hard. The par-5 second hole is a beast, and the par-3 third hole plays longer over a pond than it appears. The ninth shoots uphill and sweeps to the left across a wetland hazard.

The Inn at Anderson Creek

Staying at The Inn at Anderson Creek, adjacent to the 18th fairway, is an economical way to visit the Sandhills. Its units are regularly booked by military families visiting relatives stationed at nearby Fort Bragg.

The furnished efficiency suites offer either a king bed or two queen beds, a living/dining area, a king-sized sleeper sofa, a full kitchen, free Internet and a covered deck overlooking the course. There's a separate pool for guests and access to the fitness center and restaurant in the clubhouse. Stay and play packages often include breakfast.

Anderson Creek Golf Club: The verdict

One of the favorite parts of my job is stumbling upon a course I've never heard of and coming away impressed. Playing Anderson Creek Golf Club is a great option for golfers who fly in and out of Raleigh-Durham International Airport one hour north. It isn't much of a detour to play the course the first day or final day of a trip.

Jason Scott DeeganJason Scott Deegan, Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

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