DSG's North Carolina golf vacation: The "heart'' of Asheboro
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.
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.
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.
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
Asheboro Municipal Golf Course
421 Country Club Dr.
Asheboro, NC 27205
Asheboro Country Club
5105 Old Lexington Rd.
Asheboro, NC 27205
Tot Hill Farm Golf Club
3185 Tot Hill Farm Rd.
Asheboro, NC 27205
Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau
145-B Worth St.
Asheboro, NC 27203