The Triangle also oozes technology. Research Triangle Park (RTP) is one of the largest conglomerations of tech and pharmaceutical companies in the U.S.
Hoops, big business, and an extremely comfortable community that has been recognized by such publications as Newsweek and Money magazines as one of the country’s best places to live, make the Triangle a desirable place to dwell.
But if you'd prefer to surround yourself with shameful amounts of daily-fee golf, you'll find that this portion of the Piedmont lags behind its cousins to the south and west.
Charlotte has almost 80 golf courses within a 45-minute drive of downtown. Greensboro, High Point, Winston Salem, know as the Triad, is a panacea of affordable, daily-fee golf, with nearly 100 venues open to the public. The Triangle, on the other hand, weighs in with a respectable, but hardly overwhelming 50 golf courses you can play.
With hordes of white-collar workers and young people who would seem to be prime candidates for jumping on the golf bandwagon, one would think that the Triangle would be a haven for high-end, daily-fee golf.
"It has caught up some here in the past few years," says Scott Martin, author of Golf in the Carolinas. "Charlotte had this incredible boom in the 1990’s, in large part because there was still affordable land left around the periphery. But land has become so expensive around the Triangle, there just aren’t as many new daily-fee courses coming on line."
The early 1990's saw the addition of two John LaFoy designed courses in the Triangle -- Devil's Ridge Golf Club in Clayton, and the Neuse Golf Club in Holly Springs. LaFoy, a former associate of George Cobb, drastically departed from his mentor's architectural style with these two modern tracks. Both feature blind tee and approach shots, uneven lies, and severely undulating greens that are similar to the Triangle golf scene, but leave many players scratching their heads.
In the late 1990's, the Triangle did experience a bit of a golden age in public golf course construction, with the addition of Falls Village, the Crossings, River Ridge, Eagle Ridge, and the Heritage Club. The PGA Tour even got into the mix, opening the semiprivate TPC at Wakefield.
"Since we have so many golf courses in North Carolina, leave it to us to say that there's a shortage of golf courses in an area with 50 courses," says Jay Allred, publisher of Triad and Triangle Golf Today. "But you do have lines at first tees and longer pace of play in the Triangle than you do in the Triad, where there might actually be too many golf courses from where the owners sit."
Collegiate golf courses
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University are the hubs of higher education in the Triangle (with apologies to Wolf Pack alumni), and they also happen to form the epicenter of the area's traditional golf scene.
The Finley Course at UNC has long been recognized as one of the better collegiate golf courses in the country, and you won't find a better place to play for the money. The greens are walk mowed each day, a Border Collie chases away any water fowl looking to leave their mark on the fairways, and Finley boasts one of the best practice facilities in the state.
Leave it up to the Dukies not to be upstaged by the hated Heels. Just down "Tobacco Road" at Duke University sits one of the Triangle’s other great golf tracks, the Duke University Golf Club.
Duke has a gorgeous campus and the course at Washington Duke Golf and Country Club takes full advantage of this prime property. The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones and originally opened for play in 1957. In 1993, Rees Jones was persuaded by his daughter (a Dukie at the time) to revamp the course pro bono. The course is routed through some of the most beautiful hardwoods in the area, and is walkable if you are used to hoofing it and have a resting heart rate of 80 or under.
Towering pines and Carolina hardwoods frame every hole at the Duke Golf Club. In the spring, with the azaleas and dogwoods blooming, the surroundings are truly something to behold. Out of respect for his father (and recognizing that the Duke Golf Club was already one excellent golf course) Rees Jones retained the original routing, but completely blew up and rebuilt the tee boxes and green complexes. The result is one of the most visually stunning courses in the region.
So you aren’t ready to don the cap and gown and march down the fairway with a bunch of matriculating golfers? The Triangle does offer up a sisterhood of three high-end, daily fee courses that have garnered some recognition from national publications. Don't miss the change to play Neuse Golf Club in Clayton, Devil's Ridge in Holly Springs and Lochmere Golf Club in Cary.
Crooked Creek G.C. will convert from an 18-hole, par 71 to one of a handful of nine-holers in the Triangle. If you're searching for a challenging yet playable course where you truly earn your score, or are wanting one last sentimental round, play it now. For families looking for a nine-hole course that will keep everyone's attention, mark it on the calendar for spring of 2015.
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There's no easy A at Lonnie Poole Golf Course. It's a scenic, challenging track that lives up to its championship reputation. At 7,358 yards from the competition tees, the course can accurately be described as a monster. But the six tee boxes mean you don't have to punish yourself (unless that's your thing).
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