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, May 15, 2014

DSG's North Carolina Golf Vacation: More from the Yadkin Valley

     A big part of me wishes I could snap my fingers and be back in the Yadkin Valley.
     Since the vacation is over and I'm back at work, I'll settle for sharing with you the highlights of the final  two days spent enjoying the first-rate golf, tasty wine and breath-taking scenery of this great destination in northern North Carolina.
    After a restful night in the Cabins at White Sulphur Springs, we made the short drive to downtown Mount Airy for breakfast at Barney's Cafe.
    Mount Airy is the birthplace the late actor Andy Griffith, who used it at the model for Mayberry, the fictional town that was home to Sheriff Andy Taylor (Griffith), deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts) and all the characters who became viewer favorites in the classic 1960s comedy series bearing Griffith's name.
     Barney's Café is a friendly, down-home place owned by Eric Fleming. Eric happened by on the Saturday morning we visited. Not only did he tell us about the restaurant's history and its popularity with local residents and tourists,  he gave us an authoritative scouting report on Cross Creek Country Club, the course we'd be playing later that morning.

Eric Fleming
     Eric is a longtime member at Cross Creek, which, as its name suggests, has water in play on many of its challenging, picturesque 18 holes. Before teeing off, we spent some time with Cross Creek's personable young pro, Brad Edwards.
     Cross Creek sits on a beautiful piece of land about three miles from Barney's Cafe. It's a superior golf course, as is Cedarbrook Country Club, mentioned in the previous "Affordabili-TEES. installment, and Olde Beau Golf and Country Club,'' soon to be discussed in this installment.
     Which carries me to this rave about the value offered in the Yadkin Valley Golf and Wine Experience stay-and-play packages. Check them out at
     For two rounds of golf, two wine tastings and two nights lodging, the current prices range of $207 to $296 is off-the-charts outstanding.
     Back to the particulars of Days Two and Three of our stay in the Yadkin Valley.
     The round at Cross Creek was followed by another visit to downtown Mount Airy that included a stop at Old North State Winery.
      In the evening, we divided our time between stops at Round Peak Vineyards on the outskirts of Mount Airy and JOLO Winery and Vineyards in Pilot Mountain.
      Round Peak is owned by Mayfield Village native Ken Gulaian and his wife Kari Heerdt. They bought the winery, complete with a beautiful view of Skull Camp Mountain, in 2008. They're doing brisk business for their wines and craft beers.
Ken Gulaian, Kari Heerdt

      JOLO opened April 15 and is the newest addition to the burgeoning winery scene in the Yadkin Valley, in particular, and North Carolina, in general. Owners J.W. Ray and his wife, Kristin, see to every detail including the operation of End Posts restaurant.
      Our stay in the Yadkin Valley ended on a sunny Sunday morning with a stop at Olde Beau Golf and Country Club in Roaring Gap. The one-hour drive from Mount Airy to Olde Beau was a bit of a test, but the experience of playing the course owned by well-known college basketball TV announcer Billy Packer justified the effort.
      The elevation changes on the back nine at Olde Beau are amazing.
No. 17, Olde Beau
      Here are a few parting thoughts for all you pondering a visit to the Yadkin Valley to enjoy the cool convergence of golf, wine, scenery and down-home hospitality.
      - Take advantage of the stay-and-pay packages offer by Yadkin Valley Golf. The prices cannot be beat.
      - Be prepared to do some driving to get to the golf courses and wineries. Our traveling times from the Cabins at White Sulphur Springs ranged from five minutes (to downtown Mount Airy) to one hour (Olde Beau). I suspect you'll experience a similar range of driving times using the other four choices of lodging offered in the packages.
      - Be meticulous about getting directions to the various venues.

     Round Peak Vineyards
     765 Round Peak Church Rd., Mount Airy, NC 27030

     JOLO Winery and Vineyards
    219 Jolo Winery Lane, Pilot Mountain, NC 27041

    Old North State Winery
   308 North Main Street
   Mt. Airy, NC 27030

   Cross Creek Country Club
    1129 Greenhill Rd., Mount. Airy, NC 27030

    Olde Beau Golf and Country Club
     729 Olde Beau Blvd., Roaring Gap, NC 28668

     Barney's Café
     205 North Main St., Mt. Airy, NC 27030

      Stay-and-play packages
      Yadkin Valley Golf  
      121 Hamby Rd., Suite 318
       Dobson, NC 27017
       (855) 398-4653
       Tourism info
       Surry County Tourism Development Authority
       Cabins at White Sulphur Springs
       (866) 901-1910




Tuesday, May 6, 2014

DSG's North Carolina Golf Vacation: Discovering Yadkin Valley

    Martin Armes and Craig Distl, I owe you big time.
    Martin, based in Raleigh, N.C, and Craig, based in Charlotte, N.C., are public relations specialists who represent golf tourism destinations in North Carolina and elsewhere.
    A couple of years ago, Martin gave me a heads-up about a media event Craig was pulling together for the Yadkin Valley region in northern North Carolina. I couldn't free up the time to be part of that event, but held onto the email containing information about Yadkin Valley Golf & Wine Getaways because, well, I love golf and wine.
    I'd also traveled through that part of North Carolina in recent years and it is a drop-dead gorgeous part of the country.
    When planning this golf vacation, I contacted Craig and asked him if he could create an agenda for me and traveling companion George Sweda that would approximate what he'd done for the golf-travel writers who took part in the event two years ago.
     Craig did just that, coming up with a schedule that had us playing three rounds of golf, visiting four wineries, eating some great meals, staying at the Cabins at White Sulphur Springs in Mt. Airy and driving through some of the prettiest country you'll see east of the Mississippi River.
     I'll be writing about our stay in the Yadkin Valley in great detail for the Travel section of The News-Herald, but here's the first of two quick overviews for "Affordabili-TEES.''
     We played out first round of golf at Cedarbrook Country Club in State Road. Designed by Ellis Maples, Cedarbrook is a classic layout with a satisfying blend of holes and extraordinarily challenging greens.
Cedarbrook CC
     While there, made the acquaintance of PGA professional and general manager Zim Zimmerman.
     When the round was finished, we made the short drive to Grassy Creek Vineyards. Tasted some nice wine and enjoyed a tour of the vineyards with co-owners Lori and Derrill Rice.
Grassy Creek Vineyard
      Dinner was at the Shelton Vineyards Harvest Grill in Dobson, a place we'd visited before on a previous trip.
      George skillfully navigated us back to the Cabins at White Sulphur Springs. More on the colorful history of this place in the Travel story.
      The tone had been set for what would turn out to be an eye-opening stay in the Yadkin Valley.
       Stay-and-play packages
       Yadkin Valley Golf  
       121 Hamby Rd., Suite 318
       Dobson, NC 27017
       (855) 398-4653
       Tourism info
       Surry County Tourism Development Authority

       Cedarbrook Country Club
      225 Country Club Drive
      State Road, NC 28676
      (336) 835-2320
      Grassy Creek Vineyard
      235 Chatham College Circle
     State Road, NC 28676
     (336) 835-4320               

     Shelton Vineyards
     286 Cabernet Ln, Dobson, NC 27017
     (336) 366-4724

     Cabins at White Sulphur Springs
      (866) 901-1910


Monday, May 5, 2014

DSG's North Carolina golf vacation: The "heart'' of Asheboro

     How fitting that the word "heart'' is closely associated with the effort to bring visitors to Asheboro, N.C. and eight nearby communities in Randolph County.
     Asheboro, population 26,000 and growing,  sits astride NC Route 64 running east-west and Interstate 73/74 running north-south. It's about as close to the geographic heart of the Tar Heel State as you're going to find.
    While it isn't the highest-profile tourist destination in North Carolina, you'd be hard-pressed to find one with better attractions for its size (including the fabulous North Carolina Zoo), a better price point for budget-conscious travelers and friendlier folks to meet when you're there.
    Asheboro strikes me as a warm place with plenty of heart. Fancy it is not. Friendly it certainly is.
    That atmosphere of down-home hospitality is embodied by Tammy O'Kelley, director of tourism for the North Carolina Visitors Bureau. I've visited Asheboro twice in the last years. Both times, she did a great job pointing me toward places that embody the heart and spirit of the place.
    I'll soon be writing at greater length and detail about the Asheboro area for the Travel section of The News-Herald. For purposes of this blog, I'll focus on the first-rate experiences we had at Holly Ridge Golf Links and Asheboro Municipal Golf Course.
    Holly Ridge is in Archdale, about 10 miles north of downtown Asheboro just west of the US 311-I 73/74 interchange. Playing to a par of 72 from tee yardages ranging from 4,653 yards to 6,609 yards, Holly Ridge is both a great test of golf and an excellent value.
    Greens fees for 18 holes with riding cart range from $25 (senior)/$31 (regular) Monday through Thursday to $31 on Friday and $40 Saturday-Sunday.
     Holly Ridge owner Luke Hollingsworth is both proud and pragmatic about his greens fees. He believes his customers are getting great value for their money. The feedback he gets from those customers, many of them from Northeast Ohio, buttresses that belief.
     The place gets great word-of-mouth reviews, and deservedly so. Designed by golf course architect Jim Bivins of Asheboro, Holly Ridge is eminently playable and pleasing to the eyes. There's a nice variety of holes with challenges arising from water, forced carries and contour. The greens and the complexes surrounding the greens are expertly maintained.
     We played the white tees at 6,144 yards and thought the course at that length both challenged and rewarded. Holly Ridge is an ideal walking course, a big plus in my book.
      When the round was finished, we had a great time chatting with Luke about the history of Holly Ridge, built by his father and some partners and opened for play in 1994. Holly Ridge has a nicely stocked golf shop and a really good restaurant, the menu for which is printed on the back of the scorecard. Golfers are encouraged to place their order while still on the course to save time at the turn.
Luke Hollingsworth
      I've played many a golf course on "Affordabili-TEES'' trips since launching the blog three-plus years ago. Off the cuff, I can't think of many courses that measure up to Holly Ridge in the merging of quality and price point.
     If you're anywhere near Archdale and Asheboro while on a golf trip, carve out time to play Holly Ridge.
     Asheboro Municipal is close to my heart (there that word again!) for three reasons.
     First, the 9-hole, par-35 course just off Rt. 64 has a rich history. Open since 1937, it was designed by legendary golf course architect Donald Ross of Pinehurst fame.
     Second, with three tee positions and a maximum length of 3,074, Asheboro Muni is the essense of user-friendly.
     Third, the place is devoid of pretense and has a 9-hole walking greens fee of $10. The pro, Andy Nelson, sets the easygoing tone in the cozy clubhouse.
      Asheboro Muni for me summons memories of the late, lamented Casement Golf Club in Painesville.
      There wasn't time enough on this trip to sneak in a round at Asheboro Country Club, an 18-hole course west of town that has new ownership and reportedly is on the rebound under the guidance of general manager Brandon Turner.
      I've already made a mental note to play Asheboro Country Club and return to nearby Tot Hill Farm Golf Club the next time in Asheboro.

      Holly Ridge Golf Links
     7933 U.S. Highway 311 South
     Archdale, NC, 27263
     (336) 861-4653

     Asheboro Municipal Golf Course  
     421 Country Club Dr.
     Asheboro, NC 27205
     (336) 625-4158

     Asheboro Country Club
     5105 Old Lexington Rd.
     Asheboro, NC 27205
     (800) 697-2143

     Tot Hill Farm Golf Club
     3185 Tot Hill Farm Rd.
     Asheboro, NC 27205
     (336) 857-4455
     Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau
     145-B Worth St.
     Asheboro, NC 27203
     (800) 626-2672


Friday, May 2, 2014

DSG in N.C.: Getting to play Pinehurst No. 2

View up 18th hole at Pinehurst No. 2
    This is written under the auspices of "DSG's Affordabili-TEES,'' but it isn't about affordable golf.
    It's about once-in-a-great-while golf.
    It's about taking advantage of a rare opportunity to tee it up on Pinehurst Resort's storied No. 2 course. designed by Donald Ross and opened in 1907.
     No. 2 is one of the best courses on the planet and, there's no getting around this, beyond the reach of most golfers from the standpoint of cost.
      Even if you are staying at the resort and paying the current golf package rate of $638 per night (double occupancy, 1 round golf, breakfast buffet, dinner included), it cost another $195 plus caddie fees to play the course on which history will be made in June when it hosts the U.S. Men's and Women's Opens.
    Luckily for yours truly, an invitation to participate in a Media Day for the U.S. Opens, presented jointly by the United States Golf Association and Pinehurst included the option to play No. 2 after the presentations were complete.
    Before proceeding, here's a tip of the golf hat to traveling companion and Hall of Fame golf writer George Sweda.
    Due in no small part to George's longstanding relationships with the USGA, Pinehurst and Pinehurst President and COO Don Padgett II, I was able to join George in going off the first tee with Padgett's son, Don Padgett III, and Malcolm E. "Mac'' Everett.
     Don III is executive director of the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational, set for July 30 though Aug. 3 at Firestone Country Club in Akron.
     Both of the Padgetts have deep ties to Firestone and Pinehurst, the elder Padgett having run the show at Firestone for 25 years before following in the footsteps of his father, Don Padgett, to take the top job at Pinehurst in 2004.
      Don Padgett was Pinehurst's vice president/director of golf when he died in May 2003. Before that, he'd been president of the PGA.
      Don III, a superb player in his own right, told me he'd played hundreds of rounds at No. 2.
      "It's my favorite course because if I'm here and playing, I'm on vacation,'' he said, smiling.
      Mac Everett, also a strong player, is one of the leading citizens of Charlotte, N.C. Now retired from his career in banking, Mac is tournament director of the 2014 Wells Fargo Championship, the PGA Tour event being staged this week in Charlotte.
      We teed off just after 1:30 p.m. in letter-perfect weather. No. 2 is a great walking  course. Our group's caddies, Chris and Mark, made the 4 1/2-hour trip all the more enjoyable by offering advice on how best to navigate the course's twists, turns and demanding greens.
      No. 2 is a transformed course since the 2010 renovation masterminded by noted architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the former PGA Tour stalwart and two-time Masters champion.
      The Coore-Crenshaw rebuild restored the sandy waste areas flecked with native grasses and pine straw that had been part of Ross' original design. There is no rough to speak of on No. 2, and it is not missed.
      Maintained in fine form by Coore and Crenshaw were the "turtleback'' greens rising above the surrounding turf on No. 2. This was my third round at No. 2 and the first since the rebuild. The course always was magnificent. Now, it's superb.
      I'll always remember this round on No. 2 both for the golf and for the great vibe generated by my playing partners and the caddies. Everybody hit their share of good shots and shared many a laugh. The time flew by.
       We played No. 2 from the white tees at 6,300 yards.
        During the Opens, it will play at par-70, 7,562 yards for the men and par-70, 6,649 yards for the women.
        With the men playing first, from June 12 through 15, there are concerns about the playing conditions that will be inherited by the women when they play from June 19 through 22.
        It's my belief No. 2 will hold up well.
        Closer to the tournament dates, I'll publish a story focusing on this historic convergence of major tournaments.




Thursday, May 1, 2014

Day 3 of DSG's North Carolina Golf Vacation: Dormie Club

     On the face of it, there is nothing vaguely affordable about Dormie Club.
     Located about five miles outside of Pinehurst in West End, Dormie opened in 2010 as a private club with lofty aspirations.
     The $25 million project - $15 million for land acquisition and $10 million to design and build the course - was bankrolled by a group of well-heeled investors that includes founder and co-owner Robert Hansen.
      A New Jersey native whose been in the business of operating golf courses for most of his adult life, Hansen moved to Pinehurst a few years ago and lives in the house bordering Pinehurst No. 2 once owned by legendary architect Donald Ross
Bob Hansen
      Dormie was designed by the golf architecture team of Bill Coore and PGA Tour great Ben Crenshaw. The walk-in greens fee during this busy season is $190 during the week and $215 on the weekend. During the heat of high summer, May 26 to Sept. 14, those numbers will moderate slightly to $95 and $115.
       Dormie offers motorized carts to anyone who chooses to use one, but it is envisioned as a walking course on which golfers can choose to use a caddie. Caddie fees are $80 for a single and $65 per player for doubles.
       So, how is it that the traveling golfer of modest means ever could fit a round at Dormie into his or her budget?
      The answer in this instance is the same I'd offer in similar circumstances at the majority of upscale golf destinations. Look for the best stay-and-play packages and do the math.
       Legacy Golf Package, based in nearby Aberdeen at Legacy Golf Links. books for 27 courses in the area including Dormie.
       The Premiere II package offered on, currently priced at $529 per person (quad occupancy), is a 3 rounds/2 nights deal with rounds at Dormie, Legacy and Talamore. Package buyers stay in a Pinehurst condo. Breakfast at Pinehurst Track Restaurant is included.
       Here's what you get for $529 - three rounds of golf (estimated walk-in greens fees, $440), two nights lodging (estimated market value, $350) and two free breakfasts (estimated $30). That's $820 of value for $529.
       Is it cheap? No. Is it worth it if you can swing it? Heck yes.
       You can reason your way to thinking the round at Dormie is paid for,  and then some, with the difference between market value and Legacy's package price.
        Which begs another question: Is Dormie all that it's cracked up to be and worth the expense?
        Without hesitation, I'd answer "yes'' on both counts.
        Coore and Crenshaw went with the lay of the land on the 390 acres given over to the  golf course. With its naturally occurring sandy waste areas flecked with native grasses and vegetation, the holes are nicely framed and given to changes in elevation. The putting surfaces are large, smooth, fast and smartly contoured.
        From the par-4, 402-yard first hole to the par-4, 410-yard 18th hole, there isn't a hole at Dormie that isn't pleasing to the eye and challenging. We played Dormie from the white tees at just under 6,000 yards and par-71.
        Other tees are red  (5,180 yards), blue (6,576 yards) and black (6,883 yards).
Dormie No. 17, par 5, 489 yards
        The clubhouse (pictured below) is a lodge left over from the days when the 1,200-acre property was a private hunting preserve.
        Hansen was at Dormie on the day we played there. He shared with us the history of the building project and how the original plan to be strictly private had to be scrapped in the lingering aftermath of the economic collapse of September 2008.
        Although he still plans to eventually take Dormie private and add amenities such as a 10-hole "short course'' and learning center, for now Hanson is content to have public play serve as Dormie's lifeline.

        Dormie Club
        6033 Beulah Hill Church Rd.
        West End, N.C. 27376
        (910)  215- 4587

        Legacy Golf Package
        12515 U.S. Highway 15-501 South, Aberdeen, N.C. 28315
        (910) 944-8838; toll free, (888) 287-2199