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.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Affordabili-TEES'' pro Bryan Huff: The wedge game

      Long gone are the days when you went to the golf course with only a pitching wedge and sand wedge in the bag. These days, most players at all ability levels carry at least three and, sometimes, four wedges.
      With various names (pitch, sand, gap, lob) and graduated degrees of loft (52, 54, 56, 60), wedges have become increasingly important components of a total golf game.
      StoneWater Golf Club pro Bryan Huff, back for his second season as resident instructor for "Affordabili-TEES,'' breaks down wedge play in this four-part video series.
      If you'd like to learn more about wedge play and other elements of the game, call StoneWater at (440) 461-4653 to schedule a lesson with Bryan.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fayetteville, N.C. golf vacation, Day 4

Course: Cypress Lakes
      Where: Hope Mills, N.C
      Par, yardage: 72; 5,272 (red tees); 5,873 (gold); 6,346 (white); 6,943 (blue)
      Greens fees: $33, weekdays, 18 holes with cart
      Phone: 910-483-0359

      Prior to playing Cypress Lakes, I hadn't done any research about the place beyond making sure I had good directions from my hotel to the 18-hole layout in Hope Mills, N.C.
      If I had done some homework, I probably would learned that for the better part of 30 years, the head golf professional at Cypress Lakes was L.B. Floyd, father of PGA Tour great Raymond Floyd and former LPGA Tour regular Marlene Floyd.
      As it was, it wasn't until I'd finished a thoroughly enjoyable round at Cypress Lakes that Chris Hawk, the course's general manager and director of golf, told me about the late Mr. Floyd's honored place in club history.
      I liked the course a lot to begin with, but I liked it even more having acquired that bit of knowledge.
      When I got to the course at 8:30 in the morning, mine was the only car in the parking lot. I hopped on a cart and covered those 18 holes in slightly less than three hours while never seeming to hurry.
      Throw in the fact the weather was splendid, and there couldn't have been a better way to wrap up a four-day stay in the Fayetteville area.
      From the white tees, Cypress Lakes plays at 6,346 yards. That's just right for my game and the games of most amateurs.
      The course gets off to a user-friendly start with the par-4, 371-yard first hole and par-5, 460-yard second hole. More challenging are the par-4, 409 yard third hole and the dogleg par-4, 403-yard fourth hole. Water is in play on the front nine's two par-3s, the 142-yard fifth hole and the 179-yard ninth hole.
      With a z-shape and two bodies of water to avoid, the par-5, 473-yard 11th hole is, for my money, the best hole at Cypress Lakes. The par-4, 405-yard 17th hole and par-5, 487-yard 18th hole combine for a challenging finish.
      Hawk told me that the walk-in weekday greens fee at Cypress Lake is $33. That's a solid, solid bargain given the quality of this course.
      Rounds at Cypress Lakes can be included in stay-and-play packages available at
      The course's proximity to I-95 is a big plus.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fayetteville, N.C. golf vacation, Day 3

Course: Bayonet at Puppy Creek
      Where: Raeford, N.C
      Par, yardage: 72; 4,453 (red tees); 5,310 (gold); 6,019 (white); 6,472 (blue); 7,069 (black)
      Greens fees: $55, weekdays, 18 holes with cart
      Phone: 910-904-1500
      Airborne & Special Operations Museum
`     Where: Fayetteville, N.C.
      Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday - Saturday; noon to 5 p.m., Sunday; closed Mondays, Federal holidays, major holidays
      Admission: Free; donations accepted in receptacle near entrance.
      On my third day in the Fayetteville, N.C. area, I played golf and, then, played tourist.
      First thing in the morning, I made the 20-minute drive from my home base, the Sleep Inn in Spring Lake, to Bayonet at Puppy Creek in Raeford.
      Bayonet opened in 1997 and was designed by noted North Carolina golf architect William C. Byrd. It is extremely playable and challenging in sensible ways. Between the creek that lends its name to the course as well as a number of man-made ponds, water is in play on 12 of the 18 holes.
      Byrd's design features three 90-degree doglegs (par-4 7th and 8th holes, par-5 18th) and four holes with lesser degrees of bend from tee to green. The four par-3 holes, and especially the 14th hole, playing 190 yards from the blue tee, are nifty.
      Bayonet is a good driving course, demanding accuracy but giving you some wiggle room in the landing areas. The greens had recently been aerated before I visited the course, but the putting surfaces have plenty of break and, I would imagine, carry a fair degree of speed through most of the season.
      For first-time visitors to Bayonet, I'd recommend a quick cart ride up the fairway on the par-4 7th hole if at all possible. The hole turns sharply to the right and requires some planning with the tee shot. From the white and blue tees, bigger hitters probably will want to go with something other than driver. The line of the tee ball also is important.
      The weekday green fee of $55 is just on the outside of the "Affordabili-TEES'' envelope. However, check out the stay-and-play packages available on and I'm sure you’ll fashion a package that brings down Bayonet's greens fee.
      Having finished my round just after noon, I drove 15 miles to Fayetteville to tour the downtown area and visit the Airborne and Special Operations Museum.
      FYI, the U.S. military has a major presence in Fayetteville both geographically and economically. It's home to the U.S. Army's Fort Bragg Reservation and Pope Air Force Base.
Fort Bragg is headquarters of numerous Airborne and Special Ops units, hence the impressive museum and its attention-grabbing exhibits that date from World War II to Vietnam and the ongoing engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.
      Golfers and other tourists who are in the Fayetteville area should set aside a couple of hours to visit the museum. It's a cool place.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fayetteville, N.C. golf vacation, Days 1 & 2

Course: Anderson Creek Golf Club
      Where: Spring Lake, N.C
      Par, yardage: 72; 4,986 (red tees); 6,179 (white); 6,672 (blue); 7,215 (black)
      Greens fees: Variable
      Phone: 910-814-2118
      Gates Four Golf & Country Club
      Where: Fayetteville, N.C.
      Par, yardages: 72; 5,425 (red); 5,452 (gold); 6,072 (white); 6,433 (blue) 6,895)
      Greens fees: Variable
      Phone: 910-425-2176
      Stay-and-play website, phone number:; 800-805-5031
      DSG's first golf vacation in the Fayetteville, N.C. area is proving to be an eye-opener in the best way. The prices are reasonable, the weather is superb and the golf, thus far, has been a joy.
      The first round I played was at Anderson Creek Golf Club, an upscale public track that opened on 2001 and was designed by one of North Carolina's favorite sons, PGA Tour veteran Davis Love III.
      Love's first "signature'' course in his home state is a winner from start to finish. It's got a nice par-4, 360-yard first hole and a stout par-5, 502-yard finishing hole.
There are plenty of great holes in between, too, including the par-3 fourth hole that measures 166 yards from the white tee, 175 from the blue and 205 from the black. No matter which marker you use, the tee shot does most of its flying over water.
      The par-4, 312-yard 13th hole is a nifty driving hole that places great demands on a second shot to a contoured green with a steep false front.
      Checking my notes from the round, there wasn't a hole on this course that struck me as funky or contrived. Love did a masterful job marrying his design ideas to the lay of the land in the Sandhills region.
      The second of this stop's four planned rounds was played at Gates Four Golf $ Country Club, a semi-private course that is accessible through the stay-and-play packages offered on
      Designed by William Byrd and open since 1967, Gates Four is another extremely playable track that tests your game without breaking your spirit.
      Water comes into play on many holes here, starting with the lake that beckons an errant tee shot on the left side of the par-4, 352-yard second hole. The par-4, 400-yard eighth hole is a serious test.
      Distance control is at a premium on the par-4, 358- yard 12th hole with water coming into play on the tee shot and approach. Holes 14 through 18 all are stern but fair tests.
If you're a big hitter, by all means use the back tee on the par-5, 537-yard hole with its forced carry of 190 yards over water.
      Thanks to the aforementioned stay-and-play packages, greens fees at both of these courses are within the range of cost-conscious golf travelers who are perfectly willing to pay a little more for a premium experience.
Think $45 to $60, allowing for discounts built into the packages.
The second picture below is No. 9 at Gates Four. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 2012 trip, Days 1 and 2, Virginia

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)
      Phone: 276-688-4610
      Olde Mill Resort and Golf Club
      Where: Laurel Fork, Va.
      Par, yardages: 72, 4,793 (red); 5,361 (gold); 6,342 (white); 6,698 (blue); 7,050 (black)
      Greens fees: $30, March special, 18 holes with cart; April, $49.
      Phone: (800) 753-5005
      Draper Valley Golf Club
      Where: Draper, Va.
      Par, yardages: 71, 4,683 (red); 5,467 (gold); 6,412 (white); 7,070 (blue).
      Greens fees: $37, now through mid-April, 18 holes with cart; $35 seniors
      Phone: (866) 980-4653
      This installment makes good on a promise to play more golf in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
      What has turned into an annual March golf vacation started Sunday with a round at Wolf Creek Golf and Country Club, a place I first visited two years back while en route to the Pinehurst area in North Carolina's Sandhills region.
      Check out Wolf Creek if you're southbound on Interstate 77, heading to better known golf destinations elsewhere. Get off at the Bastian exit, about 15 miles south of the West Virginia-Virginia state line. For me, it's a 360-mile drive to the exit from home.
      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.
      Wolf Creek is a scenic course that's high on playability, low on pretense and price. It's an ideal venue for the first round on a southerly golf swing. I like everything about the place except the cart paths, which are spleen-busting rugged in spots.
      I made the acquaintance of Olde Mill head golf professional/marketing director Bo Goins last month at the Cleveland Golf Show.
The venue looked great in Bo's display and even better when I accessed the website. In person, the place is a knockout and well worth the long-ish ride it takes to get there from the Hillsville-Galax interchange (exit 14) of I-77.
      At the bottom of the ramp, hang a left on travel east on U.S. 58 (toward Martinsville and Danville). The magazine I used to get directions to Olde Mill, Virginia Golfer, specified staying on 58 east through the town of Hillsville.
Not sure why that was recommended, as there is a 58 bypass that carries you around Hillsville. Those same directions correctly indicated a 20-mile jaunt down 58 to Route 645, where you turn right and go about one mile to the main driveway. Proceed up that drive and turn left at the big stone marker to get to the pro shop.
      The course, designed by Ellis Maples and first opened in 1971, offers spectacular views and stiff challenges to every part of your game.
There are many great holes on Olde Mill, but for my money, the par-4 10th is the best of the bunch. Depending on the tee you choose, it plays from 340 yards (white tee) to 424 yards (black tee). From an elevated tee, the hole is framed by a large ake on the left and a smaller lake on the right. The landing area is tight but not ridiculously so. Should you find dry land with the tee ball, the second shot also taxes the nerves.
      Because of its off-the-beaten track location, I'd recommend that you and your traveling partners book at least one night's lodging at the resort suite hotel just down the driveway from the pro shop. During March, the stay-and-play packages of $100 per person (quad occupancy) include breakfast, lodging and golf. That's a nice price given the quality of the overall experience at Olde Mill.
      You won't have to leave the resort grounds for lunch or dinner, as there is a highly-regarded lounge and restaurant in the building next to the pro shop.
      Goins told me he gets plenty of business from the Cleveland and Columbus areas as well as other areas in the upper Midwest.
      "We get great word-of-mouth,'' he said. "If you want to get away from everyday concerns and enjoy a great golf experience, come here, for sure.''
      Olde Mill offers great Southern hospitality, too. Every time I've called, it's been Bo answering the phone.
      By the way, if you decide to check out Olde Mill on your way south to other golf destinations, ask Bo for directions from the club to the
Blue Ridge Parkway
Listen carefully to the directions. After turning right on
Olde Mill Rd.
, it's about one mile to the first stop sign, where you turn right. That's the
Blue Ridge Parkway
, even though there is no marker. It's about 11 or 12 miles due east down the Parkway to Fancy Gap, where you can pick up Rt. 52 or I-77.
      Draper Valley is further north in Virginia, off I-81 east going toward Roanoke. Get off at Exit 86 and follow the signs. Time constraints prevented me from playing there, but the course came highly recommended from local residents Steve and Joe, my playing partners at Wolf Creek. I stopped by for a visit on my way to Olde Mill and made the acquaintance of head professional Adam Nelson.
      The course looked great and sports a greens fee in the "Affordabili-TEES'' wheelhouse. Hopefully, I can sneak in a round there on the way home.