Blogs > DSG's Affordabili-TEES

News-Herald Staff Writer David S. Glasier has been playing golf for over 50 years and writing about it for over 30. Always operating on a tight budget, Glasier is on a lifelong quest to find good courses to play at affordable prices.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

DSG's Affordabili-TEES golf vacation, Day 8



Course: Asheboro Municipal Golf Course
      Where: Asheboro, N.C.
      Par, yardages: 9 holes, 35, 2,416 (yellow tees); 2,679 (white); 3,074 (blue)
      Greens fees, with riding cart: $18 (9 holes); $25 (18 holes); twilight, after 3 p.m., $20
      Website: www.asheboroparksandrecreation.com
      Phone: 336-625-4158
     
      Course: Asheboro Country Club
      Where: Asheboro, N.C.
      Par, yardages: 71, 4,787 (red tees); 5,543 (yellow); 6,209 (white); 6,473 (blue)
      Greens fees, with riding cart: $28 weekdays, $32 weekends; seniors, $22 weekdays, $29 weekends
      Website: www.talamoregolfresort.com
      Phone: 336-625-6810
     
      Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau
      Where: 141-B Worth Street, Asheboro, N.C. 27203
      Website: heartofnorthcarolina.com
      Phone: 1-800-626-2672; 336-626-0364

      North Carolina Zoo
      Where: 4401 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro, N.C. 27205
      Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
      Admission: $14, $12 (seniors, 62 and over), $10 (Kids, 2 to 12)
      Website: http://www.nczoo.org/
      Phone: 1-800-879-7000; 336-879-7000;

      An enjoyable round of golf at historic Asheboro Municipal Golf Course, a scrumptious lunch at Something Different Restaurant and eye-opening tour of the North Carolina Zoo were the highlights of the final day of the inaugural DSG's Affordabili-TEES golf trip.
      Asheboro Municipal Course is a 9-hole track that opened in 1935 and was designed by renowned golf course architect Donald Ross. It's a beautiful, challenging course with a cozy clubhouse that features a shaded back porch with vintage rocking chairs.
      The place radiates friendliness, thanks to the people who run the course and local residents who play there regularly.
      "The smallness of the place is what makes it special,'' head professional Andy Nelson said. "It's the local hangout.
      "I see the same guys every day,'' Nelson added, smiling. "You could set your watch to some of them.''
      Nelson said the locals, fiercely loyal to Asheboro Muny for good reasons, don't mind sharing their course with golfing tourists from Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and Canada.
      Tammy O'Kelley is director of tourism for Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau. It's her job to make sure people know about Asheboro Muny and all of the attractions in the Randolph County communities of Asheboro, Archdale, Franklinville, Liberty, Ramseur, Randleman (home of NASCAR legend Richard Petty), Seagrove, Staley and Trinity.
      She was my tour guide for the day, and a total delight.
      For the round at Asheboro Muny, she paired me with Bruce Edwards, an assistant pro at the course, and Felix Ward, director of Asheboro Parks and Recreation, owner-operator of the course.
      In the 90 or so minutes it took us to navigate nine holes, I heard many a story about the course and its rich history from these fine gentlemen.


      I've always had a soft spot in my heart for 9-hole tracks. When I was a kid just taking up the game, I often played at Vink's (now The News-Herald), across the street at Sequoia (now Johnnycake Ridge Golf Course, Willoughby Golf Center (now a subdivision) and Green Ridge Golf Couse in Wickliffe (still operating).
      Years later, I was introduced to Casement Club in Painesville and played there hundreds of times before the flood of July 2006 forced its permanent closing.
      When the playing was done at Asheboro Muny, we sat on the back porch and jawboned for a spell before Tammy returned to take me to lunch at Something Different Restaurant.
This down-home establishment is the domain of Sinan Nardali. Tammy said Nardali is an accomplished chef and native of Turkey who came to Asheboro 20 years ago to visit and loved the city so much he decided to make it his home.
      Turkey's loss was Asheboro's culinary gain, for sure.
      Making efficient use of limited time, Tammy included visits to Asheboro Country Club and the North Carolina Zoo on our itinerary.
      There wasn't time enough to even sneak in nine holes at Asheboro Country Club, but I did chat with director of golf Harold Jordan (see the video on www.news-herald.com, Video, Sports). The course looks great, so I'll play it next time through Asheboro.
      Tammy arranged a 45-minute tour of the North Carolina Zoo conducted by its public relations manager, Rod Hackney. This is a spectacular zoo, covering 2,200 acres and embracing the philosophy of placing animals in habitats that are as close to natural as possible in a zoo setting.
      Rod and Tammy both recommended setting aside a day to experience the North Carolina. They are right on the money. It's an ideal place for a family outing. If you are looking to take an affordable road trip this summer, do some research on the North Carolina Zoo and the Asheboro area.
      Asheboro is centrally located in North Carolina on State Route 64. Many tourists and golfers either pass through or make only a brief stop here on their way to Pinehurst or Myrtle Beach. That was me on previous trips.
      This time, I made it a point to spend some time in Asheboro. I am so glad I did and will be back soon.
      In fact, I've got it my head that I need to come back this fall to see more of Randolph County and the fall colors in the Uwharrie National Forest.

Monday, March 28, 2011

DSG's Affordabili-TEES golf vacation, Day 7

   Course: Tot Hill Farm Golf Club
   Where: Asheboro, N.C.
   Par, yardages: 71, 4,556 (gold tees); 5,632 (white); 6,214 (green); 6,543 (black)
   Website: www.tothillfarm.com
   Phone: 1-800-868- 4455, 336-857-4455

   All was well that ended well Monday on the next-to-last day of the "Affordabili-TEES'' golf trip.
   The day began on a downbeat note when steady rain, a stiff wind and temperature about 20 degrees below the norm for this time of year in southern North Carolina obliterated plans for a round at Little River Golf Resort in Carthage.
   I began working my way north toward Asheboro, N.C., where plans called for an overnight stay Monday and the trip's final round Tuesday morning at Asheboro Municipal, a 9-hole course that opened in 1936 and was designed by the famous Donald Ross.
   It was about noon when I got to the outskirts of Asheboro on State Route 220 when I saw a sign indicating Tot Hill Farm Golf Course was accessible from the next exit. I was introduced Tot Hill Farm last March. It is one of the most challenging courses I've played, an up-and-down adventure through the rocky terrain of a former farm.
   The rain had stopped but skies were still grey as I left the freeway and undertook the six-mile drive through some pretty country to get to Tot Hill Farm. There probably wouldn't be any golf played, but it would nice to renew acquaintances with head professonial Alan Martini and assistant pro Chad Clark.
   While we were chatting, the clouds rolled off to the east and the sun re-emerged after the better part of two days in hiding. There wasn't time to play 18 holes, but I did enjoy a leisurely spiun around the front nine.
   The walk-in greens fee at Tot Hill Farm is $54, slightly outside the "Afforabili-TEES'' price paramater. However, the price includes range balls and lunch. Check out Tot Hill Farm's top-notch website for information about lodging-golf packages.



Sunday, March 27, 2011

DSG's Affordabili-TEES golf vacation, Day 6


     Course: Talamore Golf Club, Resort Course
      Where: Southern Pines, N.C.
      Par, yardages: 71, 4,977 (red tees); 5,470 (green); 6,025 (white); 6,534 (blue); 6,840 (gold)
      Website: www.talamoregolfresort.com
      Phone: 1-800-352-6292; 910-692-5884
     
      Comfort Inn, Pinehurst
      Where: 9801 U.S. Highway 15-501, Pinehurst, N.C., 28374
      Golf package prices: Through May 31, $124.30 (1 round/1 night) to $328.60 (3 rounds, 2 nights)
      Website: In search engine of choice, type Comfort Inn of Pinehurst, N.C.
      Email: comfortinngolf@gmail.com
     
      Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
      Information about lodging-golf packages
      Website: www.homeofgolf.com
      Phone: 1-800-346-5362  
     
      Weather-wise, I felt right at home Sunday when I awoke in Pinehurst, N.C.
      It was raining and unseasonably cold for these parts at this time of year.
      A decision had to be made.
      Did I make the short drive from my hotel to Talamore Golf Club to keep my scheduled 9:32 a.m. tee time on the Resort Course, or did I pass on playing and go to the course to meet golf pro Jason Aslanian and pick his brain about the highly regarded Rees Jones design?
      Even as I pulled into the parking lot, I wasn't sure which way I was going to go.
      Then I spotted two foursomes braving the conditions and preparing to tee off. The nutty golfer in my head took over. Real men play on a day like today!
      So, I grabbed the heavy wind jacket, pulled it over my head and went inside to tell Jason I was good to go and we'd talk later.
      Notwithstanding the cold and intermittent mist, the course was extremely playable. Hey, this area  is called the Sandhills for a reason. True enough that rain had fallen throughout the night and early morning, but the sandy soil drains quickly.
      Speaking of sand, there are sand bunkers and sand traps on every hole at the Resort Course. I didn't count them, but there are easily over 100. Some are small, some are large, and many are strategically placed in landing areas for tee shots and around the greens.
      The Resort Course is pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate. It was cart paths only Sunday, but I didn't find walks to the ball bothersome. The walking made me feel warmer.
      As I played back-to-front, I was already as loose and warm as I was going to get when I made the turn to the par-5 first hole. At 609 yards from the blue tees, and playing dead into the wind, I stood on the tee and sensed I could hit what by my standards are three good shots and probably not get home.
      Sure enough, I hit three solid blows - driver, 3-metal, 3-metal - and was 10 paces short of the green. I hit a nice bump-and-run chip to three feet and made a workingman's par. It felt like a birdie.
      There are a lot of nifty holes on the Resort Course, all of them straightforward and most of them featuring elevation changes.
      As is the case with all of the upscale courses around here, Talamore qualifies for consideration by "Affordabili-TEES'' because it is included in many of the reasonably priced lodging-golf packages for Pinehurst-area courses. Check out the websites listed above for the Comfort Inn and Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
      NOTES
      - This trip is reaching its late stages. Weather permitting, I'll bid farewell to the Sandhills on Monday with a morning round at Little River Golf Resort in Carthage.
      From there, I'll lead north to Asheboro to check out some of the courses in that area. On Tuesday afternoon, the clubs will go back in the trunk for good and DSG will be homeward bound.
      - In the trip's second dispatch, from Winston-Salem, N.C., I regretted losing the scorecard from the round at Tanglewood Championship Course on which I'd written the full names of playing partners Jacob, Reggie and Edmund.
      Yesterday, I got an email from Jacob Davis, who filled in the blanks for Reggie Little and Edmund Harvey.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

DSG's Affordabili-TEES golf vacation, Day 5

 
Course: Legacy Golf Links
      Where: Aberdeen, N.C.
      Par, yardages: 72, 4,946 (green tees); 5,551 (gold); 6,021 (white); 6,495 (blue); 7,004 (black)
      Website: www.legacygolfnc.com
      Phone: 1-800-344-8825; 910-944-8825
     
      Course: Pinewild Country Club, Magnolia Course
      Where: Pinehurst, N.C.
      Par, yardages: 72, 5,178 (red); 5,566 (gold); 6,234 (white); 6,835 (blue); 7,446 (black)
      Website: www.pinewildcc.com
      Phone: 1-800-523-1499; 910-295-5146
     
      Comfort Inn, Pinehurst
      Where: 9801 U.S. Highway 15-501, Pinehurst, N.C., 28374
      Golf package prices: Through May 31, $124.30 (1 round/1 night) to $328.60 (3 rounds, 2 nights)
      Website: In search engine of choice, type Comfort Inn of Pinehurst, N.C.
      Email: comfortinngolf@gmail.com
     
      Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
      Information about lodging-golf packages
      Website: www.homeofgolf.com
      Phone: 1-800-346-5362  
     
      My first playing day in the golf hotbed that is the Pinehurst-Southern Pines-Aberdeen area of North Carolina was darn near perfect.
      I played a morning round Saturday at Legacy Golf Links in Aberdeen, where former Mentor resident Bradley Poplyk is head golf professional.
      FYI, I'm saving a fuller story about Poplyk for tomorrow's installment of "Affordabili-TEES'' because the weather forecast for Sunday is bleak. In advance of my scheduled 9:32 a.m. tee time at Talamore Golf Club, I'll head back to Legacy to do a full interview with the native Northeast Ohioan and get him on video.
      Legacy opened in 1991 and was designed by Jack Nicklaus II. I liked everything about the place, from its challenging but fair layout to consistent, thorough on-course yardage markers.
      I also appreciated being told before I headed to the first tee that the greens at Legacy have some cosmetic issues. Bob Kelley, formerly of Columbus, explained that the discoloration was due to last summer's excessive hot weather in the area.
      The owners of Legacy aren't messing around with this problem. From the middle of June until the end of August, the course will be closed so that all the greens can be rebuilt.
      For what it's worth, I thought the greens rolled fairly well despite the discoloration and structural issues I'm sure only an agronomist can understand. If you plan to be in the Pinehurst area between now and the shutdown, don't hesitate to play Legacy.  
      The afternoon round was at Pinewild Country Club's Magnolia Course, a Gene Hamm design that opened in the early '70s. I got in nine holes, playing the back nine. Then the rain arrived, as predicted, and made easy the decision to call it a day.
      Based on the quality of those nine holes, and the high level of challenge they present, it's easy to see why Magnolia has hosted sectional qualifiers for the U.S. Open and other regional tournaments.
      Saturday's experiences at Legacy and Pinewild bring me to the overriding point about golf in the Pinehurst area and how you can make it affordable.
      Travel brochures trumpet the fact there are 40 championship-caliber courses in the Pinehurst-Southern Pines-Aberdeen area.
      In most parts of the country, in this economy, the concentration of so many courses in such proximity to each other would produce downward pull on walk-in greens fees.
      That's not the case here. Exclusive of twilight rates, none of those 40 courses has a walk-in greens fee that fits "Affordabili-TEES'' profile of $20 to $35 or slightly higher for a premium golf experience with amenities.
      Pinehurst is not immune to changed economic realities, however. To maintain acceptable levels of business, the golf courses and area hotels have formed alliances to offer golf-lodging packages that, when you break down the unit costs, are great values given the quality of the golf experience.   
      That's why I provided contact information for the Comfort Inn, where I'm staying, and for the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
      Golf down here isn't cheap, but by taking advantage of the golf-lodging package that fits your budget, it is affordable.


Friday, March 25, 2011

DSG's Affordabili-TEES golf vacation, Day 4

     
      Course: Meadowlands Golf Club
      Where: Winston-Salem, N.C.
      Par, yardages: 72, 4,745 (red tees); 5,549 (yellow); 5,842 (white); 6,507 blue; 6,868 (gold)
      Greens fees, with riding cart: $39/$29 seniors, women and juniors, Monday - Thursday; Friday, $23 to $41; Weekends and holidays, $27 to 49; twilight rates after 1 p.m. every day.
      Website: www.meadowlandsgolfclub.com
      Phone: 336-769-1011
     
      The Village Inn Golf & Conference Center
      Where: 6205 Ramada Drive, Clemmons, N.C., 27012
      Golf package prices: Monday - Thursday), $84 per person (double occupancy); Friday - Sunday, $94 per person (double occupancy).
      websites: www.thevillageinn.com; www.haveclubswilltravel.com
      Phone: 1-800-544-6416; 336-766-9121
     
      My stay in the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina ended Friday on a decidedly upbeat note with 18 holes at Meadowlands Golf Club. This first-rate track was designed by renowned touring pro and World Golf Hall of Fame member Hale Irwin.
      A professional acquaintance who has played Meadowlands sang its praises when I shared with him the list of courses I'd visit during three days in Winston-Salem. Let me now join in that chorus.
      Meadowlands is beautiful, challenging and completely playable at yardages from just over 4,800 yards from the forward tees to 6,868 yards from the tips. The greens are smooth and quick for this time of the year, when much of the grass in the rough and fairways in these parts is just beginning its awakening from winter dormancy.
      Change of elevation is another feature of Meadowlands. There is just the right amount of water in play. That's especially true on No. 10, a tough par-4 that plays anywhere from 282 yards to 440 yards. If you use the gold or blue tees, there is a forced carry over water on the tee shot.
      Even from the forward tees, water is a factor with a pond on the right side that stretches almost the full length of the hole. Throw in a fairway with a pronounced left-to-right tilt, and we're talking about a knee-knocker of a tee shot.
      The entry that repeats often in my scorecard notes is "great driving hole.'' Irwin did a fine job overall at Meadowlands, but he was really sharp in setting up the sight lines, landing areas and bunkering for holes on which the vast majority of players will go with "the big stick.''
      Meadowlands features a spacious practice tee-driving range and putting green, too.
      I want to end the chronicling of my time in Winston-Salem with a shout out to the Village Inn Golf & Conference Center in Clemmons, where I spent four restful nights.
      The Village Inn offers an ultra-convenient location at Exit 184 of Interstate 40, clean rooms, friendly staff and a golf-centric business plan spearheaded by golf coordinator and business manager Ashley Seamon. Daily golf-lodging packages are $84 (Monday - Thursday) and $94 (Friday-Sunday).
      Visit the two websites noted above to checks out the 12 courses participating in Village Inn packages. You'll also want to get up to speed on the some of the nice extras included in the packages, including a folder with breakfast and beverage coupons as well as driving directions to every course.
      There are restaurants galore within a 10-minute drive of the Village Inn. All of the 145 guest rooms are soon to get a complete makeover, too.
Ashley offers still more details about the hotel and its commitment to affordable golf packages in a video interview posted on www.news-herald.com.
      If this blog whets your appetite for a Village Inn golf vacation and you make the trip there soon, don't be surprised if you run into fellow Northeast Ohio golf "snowbirds'' during your stay.
       As busy as I kept myself while based at the Village Inn, I feel as if I merely scratched the surface and need to play all of the affordable courses in the Winston-Salem area I didn't have the time to visit this time. Sounds like a compelling rationale for a return trip.



            
     

Thursday, March 24, 2011

DSG's Affordabili-TEES golf vacation: Fine Wine, Delicious BBQ

The day's "work'' on the golf course was done Thursday when I made the short ride down U.S. Highway 158 to Mocksville, N.C. and RayLen Vineyards & Winery. The family-owned establishment had come highly recommended by Ashley Seamon, golf coordinator at the Village Inn Golf & Conference Center, my home away from home since Tuesday.
      Ashley's tip was true. RayLen is an impressive place with a nice selection of wines and a hospitable atmosphere. I'm bringing home four bottles of RayLen reds - two 2008 Carolinius (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc), 2007 Cabernet Franc and 2009 Category 5.
      In keeping with the theme of this trip, the price of the wine was affordable (average $15 per bottle).
      While at RayLen, I expressed a hankering for some North Carolina barbeque and was told that two miles up the road, on the way back to the hotel, I'd run into Snook's Old-Fashioned BBQ in the small town of Advance.
      From the moment I pulled into the parking lot, laid eyes on the Snook’s “complex’’ and caught the first whiff from inside, I knew it was the right move.
      Rita Revis owns and runs the place opened 45 years ago by her late father, Charles "Snook'' Williams. Rita works the window, taking orders from regulars who crowd into the small waiting area.
      Toiling in the kitchen are Rita's daughter Dana Childress, and Cindy Mock. Rita's mom, Margaret Myers, helps with making the cakes and other of the mouth-watering, home-made desserts that augment the impressive array of main courses.
      At the urging of the couldn't-have-been-kinder regulars, who wanted the visitor from "up North'' to have the essential Snook's experience, I ordered the pork platter with barbecue coleslaw, hush puppies and sweet tea.
      I'm no food critic, but I am an (ahem) experienced eater. So, let me render this review of my new favorite place in the world: Snook's is a GREAT down-home barbecue joint and certainly the best I've ever patronized.
      Affordable golf is what brought me to the Winston-Salem area. Golf will bring me back, too. But every time I am back, sure as night follows day I'll travel down 158 for some fine wine at RayLen and world-class BBQ at Snook's.
      David S. Glasier  



DSG's Affordabili-TEES golf vacation, Day 3

      Course: Oak Valley Golf Club
      Where: Advance,  N.C.
      Par, yardages: 72, 5,672 (gold tees); 6,036 (white); 6,682 (blue); 7,033 (black)
      Greens fees, with riding cart: $38 weekdays, $49.50 weekends; $27 weekdays, $49.50 weekends (seniors, 60 and older); twilight, after noon, $34 weekdays, $39 weekends
      Website: www.oakvalleygolfclub.com
      Phone: 336-940-2000
     
      Course: Salem Glen Golf & Country Club
      Where: Clemmons, N.C.
      Par, yardages: 71, 5,821 (white tees); 6,275 (blue); 6,716 (gold)
      Greens fees, with riding cart: $35 weekdays, $49 weekends; $25 weekdays, $35 weekends (seniors, 60 and older); twilight, after noon, $27 all days.
      Website: salemglen.com
      Phone: 336-712-1010 
     
      Affordable golf isn't just a catch phrase in Winston-Salem, N.C.
      It's a fact of life borne out by the fact you can play two rounds in one day, on top-notch courses designed by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, for a combined 65 bucks.
      I did it Thursday, and it was sensational.
      The day started at Oak Valley Golf Club in Advance, a western suburb of Winston-Salem.
      From there, it was easy 10-mile jaunt eastward to Salem Glen in Clemmons for an early-afternoon round.
      Oak Valley is a Palmer design that opened in 1995.
      Salem Glen, a Nicklaus design, opened a few years later.
      The former has been the site of qualifiers for the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, U.S. Publinks Championship and other national tournaments.
      Salem Glen isn't quite long enough to host those events, but it's plenty tough.
      The weekday greens fee at Oak Valley is $38. At Salem Glen, the "twilight'' rate of $27 kicks in at noon.
      If I'd have reversed the order of play, the total cost would have been $69 - $35 at Salem Glen and $34 for the twilight rate at Oak Valley.
      Both courses are stern tests of golf that have water in play on many holes, require course management and have quick, challenging greens.
      Oak Valley places more of a premium on length off the tee, but Palmer's design requires equal applications of brains and brawn.
      Length matters at Salem Glen, too, but it's the demands built into second and third shots that are the calling cards of Nicklaus' design.
      The notes I took during each round share common ground - "good driving hole,'' "elevated tee,'' "water on (left, right),'' "strategically placed bunker(s).''
      Randall James, director of golf at Oak Valley, said his track will get much tougher when the now-dormant grass in the rough springs back to life in about one month.
      Daniel Byrd, head golf professional at Salem Glen, made the same observation about his track.
      The greens on both courses were running quick Thursday with temperatures in the low 60s and a stout wind blowing primarily out of the north. Those surfaces will be even faster in weeks to come.
      Admirers of Palmer and Nicklaus, both as Hall of Fame players and esteemed course designers, will find much to like and, maybe, love, at Oak Valley and Salem Glen,
      And what’s not to love about the prices.



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

DSG's Affordabili-TEES golf vacation, Day 2



DSG's Affordabili-TEES golf vacation, Day 2
      Course: Tanglewood Championship Course
      Where: Clemmons, N.C.
      Par, yardage: 70, 6,014 (white tees); 6,637 (blue tees); 7,101 (gold tees)
      Greens fees, with riding cart: $38 weekdays, $48 weekends; $28 weekdays, $35 weekends (seniors, 60 and older); twilight, after 4 p.m., $28, $17, walking
      Website: www.tanglewoodpark.org
      Phone: 336-703-6420
      The weather was darn near perfect in Winston-Salem on Wednesday with a high in the high 70s, plenty of sun and freshening wind. Conditions were right for DSG to go for broke and play 36 holes on the second playing day of his cost-conscious golf trip.
      Tanglewood's Championship Course was the choice for the morning round, and what a revelation it was. Opened in the late 1950s and designed by Robert Trent Jones, the Championship Course is one of the many attractions in the 1,100-acre Tanglewood Park owned by Forsyth County and operated by Forsyth County Parks and Recreation.
      The park and course are easily found off Interstate 40 at the Tanglewood exit. It was a 10-minute drive from the Village Inn Golf & Conference Center in Clemmons, my home base during a four-day stay in the Winston-Salem area. I'll provide much more information about the hotel and its lodging-golf packages in an upcoming installment of "Affordabili-TEES.''
      The Championship Course offers a substantial golf experience for the money. It is demanding enough to have hosted the 1974 PGA Championship as well as the RJR Championship and Vantage Championship on professional golf's senior tour.
      With its three sets of tees, it's also extremely playable for amateur golfers of all handicaps.
      "It's not a course where you'll lose a dozen golf balls,'' said Mike Wilcox, a PGA member and director of golf at Tanglewood.
      Wilcox said Tanglewood at this time of year gets business from snow-weary, golf-hungry tourists from Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other Midwestern and Eastern states. It's also a favorite of golfers from the Winston-Salem area and central North Carolina, where there are many affordable golf courses.
      On Wednesday, I played solo on the front nine before joining up with Edmund, Jacob and Reggie on the back nine. Guys, it was great sharing part of the afternoon with you. I apologize for misplacing the scorecard on which I wrote your last names. Send me an email at dglasier@news-herald and I'll make it right in an upcoming blog.
      My favorite holes on the Championship Course included the par-5, 614-yard 5th hole, which, for the heck of it, I played from the tips. Made a par by hitting a sand wedge to 10 feet and canning the putt. Considered the day made with that one. Otherwise, I played the white tees all day.
      No. 12, a 182-yard par 3, definitely gets your attention with water to the left of the green and sand traps ringing the putting surface.
      Hit a good drive on No. 17, a 500-yard par-5, and for your second shot, you'll have to decide whether to go over or around an imposing array of sand traps guarding the approach to the green.
      No. 18 is a 387-yard uphill dogleg to the right offers a nice challenge to end the round.
      Wilcox is one of two pros at Tanglewood. The other is Chad Keaton.
      The amenties at the Championship Course - pro shop, snack bar, locker rooms, putting green and driving range - are first-rate. Keaton said clinics are offered throughout the season (see the website cited above). Golfers also can avail themselves of a lesson for $50 an hour, a rate that is extremely competitive.
      The Tanglewood complex also sports another 18-hole track, the Reynolds Course, an 18-hole par-3 course and a driving range.
      Greens fees for the Reynolds Course are $26 weekday/$32 weekend (with cart) and $21/$32 for seniors.
     
      Course: Olde Homeplace Golf Club
      Where: Winston-Salem, N.C.
      Par, yardage: 72, 5,748 (yellow tees); 6,213 (green tees), 6,515 (black tees))
      Greens fees, with riding cart: $30; $24 senior, 60 and older; $20, after 3 p.m.
      Website: www.oldshomeplacegolfclub.com
      Phone: 336-796-1076
      It was about 2:30 in the afternoon when we finished the round at Tanglewood's Championship Course. With the weather forecast for Thursday in these parts on the iffy side, I decided to make the 20-minute drive down I-40 East to Olde Homeplace and get in a second round.
      I'd found Olde Homeplace doing web research for this trip and loved the way the course looked on its website. It more than measured up to expectations, both in terms of visuals and the golf course.
      Olde Homeplace is pretty, playable and challenging for the average-to-good golfer. The course is open on most holes but requires accuracy, course management and, on some holes, local knowledge.
      As luck would have it, I was met on the first tee by Rob Lorber, a 65-year-old Winston-Salem area resident and one fine golfer. We played 18 holes together and had a great time. He had tons of local knowledge and was only too eager to share it.
      If ever you are in Winston-Salem to sample the area's array of affordable courses, I urge you to play a round at Olde Homeplace.
     
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

DSG's Affordabili-TEES golf vacation, Day 1



      Course: Wolf Creek Golf and Country Club
      Where: Bastian, Va.
      Par, yardage: 71, 6,020 (white tees); 6,360 (blue tees)
      Greens fees, with riding cart: $35 weekdays, $40 weekends; $30 weekdays, $35 weekends (seniors, 60 and older)
      Website: www.wolfcreekgolfcourse.com
      Phone: 276-688-4610
      The first of seven playing days on DSG's modest "southern swing'' got off to a great start with a visit to the course that bills itself as "The Hidden Gem.''
      I found Wolf Creek the new-fangled way, on the internet. It is a find, indeed, an affordable gem that gets high marks for playability and hospitality.
      When I played the course Tuesday morning, it was in outstanding condition for this time of year. Tees, fairways, rough and putting surfaces are green and groomed. The greens, full of slope and subtle breaks, already are rolling quick. They look good to the eye, too.
      Depending on your point of origination in the Greater Cleveland area, the trip to Bastian, in southwest Virginia just inside the West Virginia border, is 340 to 370 miles. The lion's share of those miles are on Interstate 77.
      After exiting 1-77 at the Bastian interchange, turn left at the bottom of the ramp and follow the Wolf Creek Golf Club signs to
Grapefield Road
. You'll turn right and travel about five miles down a twisting road through some pretty country until you see the golf course on your left.
      "I've heard people say that's the longest five miles they've ever driven,'' said Don Dean, the personable owner and do-everything guy at Wolf Creek. He's pictured above
      Take my word for it, the drive isn't that long and you'll be glad you took it.
      The main driveway carries you by a large pond and leads to a bridge over a creek. The bridge is designed to carry cars, trucks and golf carts. Bear to the left of the three-story, wood-sided clubhouse and follow the signs to the bag drop and parking lot.
      Once you're in the clubhouse and ready to pay for the round, chances are you'll be dealing with Don Dean. He's 60 years old and has owned the course since 1986. He was a coal miner for 15 years before he bought the course with three partners, each of whom he's bought out in the years since.
      "This is a working man's course. Ain't no millionaires here,'' he told me, smiling.
      The designer of record at Wolf Creek is Maurice Brackett. The original owner and developer of Wolf Creek, the late John Wilkerson, engaged Brackett to convert what had been a private hunting lodge with a six-hole golf course into an 18-hole track.
      There are 18 good holes at Wolf Creek. Four of those holes are exceptional.
      No. 6, a 372-yard par-4, requires 180 yards of carry and good placement of the tee shot to a raised fairway. The second shot is blind to semi-blind to a green that sits beneath the fairway and is guarded by a pond on the right front. The green has a pronounced back-to-front slope, too.
      No. 12, a 388-yard par-4, is framed by a creek on the right and left sides. Accuracy off the tee is at a premium.
      No. 13, a par-3 listed on the card at 208 yards, came up as 228 on my range-finder. Into a stiff wind, I figured it to be playing at 240 with the first 120 over water.
      No. 17, a 370-yard par 4 with an elevated tee, required accuracy off the tee and steadiness on an approach shot that must clear a creek running across the fairway about 30 yards in front of the green.
      Dean said his favorite hole in No. 16, a 150-yard par 3 with a substantially elevated tee that wasn't yet open Tuesday.
      Wolf Creek has a pro shop with bags, gloves, hats and other essentials. It also has a nice snack bar that offers tasty at-the-turn fare. Breakfast is served on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
      While the course never officially closes, Dean said the heart of Wolf Creek's season is late March-early April through the end of October. This time of year, he gets a fair amount of business from golf "snowbirds'' making trips south from Ohio, Pennsylvania, some eastern seaboard states and Ontario, Canada.
      "I get more from Ohio than anywhere else,'' Dean said.
      The overall golf experience at Wolf Creek is positive in every way. Dean and his staff take a lot of pride in maintaining the course. Little details like daily raking of sand bunkers attest to that. The yardage markings are OK, with blue (200), white (150) and red (100) ground stones. I would recommend bringing a yardage range-finder.
      Be careful on the cart paths, which are bumpy in spots because of spreading tree routes.
      With hills and trees framing backdrops on very hole, Wolf Creek is easy on the eyes. I spoke to some of the regulars when I was there, and each of them said the place is spectacular in the fall when the foliage colors are at their peak.
      It was just after noon as I was making my way back to I-77. At the end of
Grapefield Road
, in the Bastian Plaza is Pizza Plus, a family-owned franchise that offers all-you-can-eat lunch buffet (salad, pizza, beverage) for just $8. Good food, nice price.
      There are no hotels at the Bastian exit. I'd recommend driving 20 miles south to Wytheville (with-vil), where there are plenty of affordable hotels. I booked a room at the Sleep Inn just of I-77 at Exit 41. Taking advantage of an on-line offer that came from Expedia, I stayed for $52.82 with tax. It's a clean place with an acceptable continental breakfast.
      There is a Super 8 adjacent to Sleep Inn and a Best Western nearby on the same access road. I stopped at both places and would recommend either.
      Sleep Inn is next door to the Sagebrush, a first-rate restaurant that specializes in steaks, BBQ, burgers and basic seafood. Entree prices range from $8 to $21.