Coming to Charlotte for a NASCAR race or on business? Golfers have choices in the Queen City

By Katharine Dyson, Special Contributor

You've landed at Charlotte Douglas International Airport to catch the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Still, the action doesn't gear up until 7:30 so maybe, just maybe, you could squeeze in a round of golf before heading to the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Nope, you don't have your clubs. So where do you go?

Rocky River Golf Club at Concord
Rocky River Golf Club at Concord is less than a mile from the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Rocky River Golf Club at ConcordLarkhaven Golf ClubBallantyne Hotel & Lodge golf courseDr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course
If you go

Fortunately you do have choices with about 15 golf courses located within (or close to) Charlotte and a half hour or less (give or take) drive from the airport. Most courses offer rental clubs and three courses are within a five-minute shot of the Speedway.

Renaissance Park Golf Course in southwest Charlotte is less than 10 minutes from the airport, so slide into your golf shirt and book a tee time at this nature-friendly track designed by Michael Hurdzan. Renaissance Park is one of five courses managed by the Ratcliffe Golf Services, where affordable green fees are the norm.

Also in the group is the Charles T. Myers, a true public golf course reminiscent of the oldest of traditional classic layouts. Designed by Bill Love, Charles T. Myers is a favorite of Charlotte golfers.

Other Ratcliffe courses include the nine-hole Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course at Revolution Park and Sunset Hills G.C. with a regulation 18-hole track and a 9-hole Learning Course. Sunset Hills a popular play for value and price but wearing a hard hat wouldn't hurt -- tees are very close to greens and shouts of "fore" are not unusual.

Charlotte golf: Tee it up near the Speedway

Want to be close to the Charlotte Motor Speedway? Ranked on North Carolina's Top 100 Golf Courses list, Rocky River Golf Club at Concord is less than a mile from the action (20 miles from the airport).

Designed by Dan Maples, Rocky River is carved out of rolling hills, craggy rock outcroppings and wetlands. And a great thing: After you hole out on the 18th, you can throttle up and just about walk to the races. Sweet.

Also near the Speedway is Skybrook Golf Club, a highly rated John LaFoy course opened in 2000 as the centerpiece of the Skybrook neighborhood. A hilly track with a lot of dramatic elevations, Skybrook in Huntersville is managed by Billy Casper Golf.

If you just need a quick golf fix with no fuss less than 10 minutes from the roar of NASCAR, tee up for a quick 18 on the par-3 Paradise Valley Golf Course. Rent a wedge and a putter for a dollar each, and test your short-game skills hitting to small, perky greens where treacherous water lurks at the edges. They sell balls on the cheap so no worries.

One of Charlotte's older public tracks, Larkhaven Golf Club on the eastern edge of the city, was built in 1958 and features narrow, fairly flat, tree-lined fairways, roll-up greens and some water hazards making it a good play for all levels of golfers.

If you are lucky enough to be checking into Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge about 25 minutes from the airport, you will find a challenging 18-hole course right out the door. The Ballantyne golf course is a pretty track with some serious rock-and-roll greens, and if polishing up your game is on your mind, book a lesson at the on-site Dana Ryder Golf School, one of Golf Digest's Top 25 Instructional facilities.

Heavy hitters should check out Birkdale Golf Club, an Arnold Palmer design about 22 miles from the airport voted one of the top five public golf courses in North Carolina. Although public, you enjoy a private club ambiance with its handsome clubhouse and meticulous grooming along with a dramatic layout featuring a lot of elevation changes and bentgrass greens.

If you can spare a half hour or a bit more to find some golf, try Emerald Lake Golf Club, a real estate development facility built in 1996. It has many trees, doglegs and bunkers along with bentgrass greens and water on five holes.

Then there's Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation about 35 minutes from the airport in southeast Charlotte blessed by a mature hardwood forest and tall pines. Designed by Tom Jackson, Olde Sycamore is known for its excellent bentgrass greens.

Another excellent play is Regent Park Golf Club, a Ron Garl course 12 miles south of uptown Charlotte, just one mile off of Interstate 77. Skirting the North and South Carolina borders, Regent Park is a beauty with an indoor practice facility, perfect for getting in some time when the weather is drizzly.

Tega Cay Golf Club in Rock Hill just south of the border in Rock Hill, S.C., is the only 27-hole golf course in the Charlotte area. Tega Cay's Cove Course, Grande View Course and Pines Course sit on 200 acres along the southern end of Lake Wylie, it has a grand clubhouse and splendid views all along the fairways.

Before you head to Charlotte, we suggest you tuck into your suitcase, a pouch containing a few balls, tees, markers and some sunscreen. You never know when the golf itch will hit. And pack (or wear) your sneakers.

Katharine DysonKatharine Dyson, Special Contributor

Katharine Dyson is a golf and travel writer for several national publications as well as guidebook author and radio commentator. Her journeys have taken her around the world playing courses and finding unique places to stay. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, Metropolitan Golf Writers of America; Golf Travel Writers Organization and Society of American Travel Writers. Follow Katharine on Twitter at @kathiegolf.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment