Last time I was in Raleigh, I was at a Darius Rucker concert, and I was having myself a mighty fun time. While I don’t remember much of what happened post-concert, I do remember the crowd going crazy during the song, Wagon Wheel. The crowd went nuts and sang along for the entire thing. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that their hometown is mentioned in the lyrics… “And I’m a-hopin’ for Raleigh, so I can see my baby tonight…”
Ok, fine. Maybe I should stick to golf and forgo my attempt at being a music critic.
But the point is, I wasn’t in Raleigh just for a rocking concert. I was also there to play some golf, although the next morning’s round was a little foggy.
I haven’t played all the cool spots in Raleigh, so that’s why I asked our Golfer’s Authority readers to help me out in compiling a list of the best public tracks.
Lonnie Poole Golf Course
Lonnie Poole is home to the NC State men’s and women’s golf teams. This golf course was also designed by Arnold Palmer, my favorite golfer of all-time.
Located just minutes from downtown, this course is one of the best conditioned on the East Coast. It makes sense seeing as it serves as N.C. State’s turfgrass research headquarters. The views of the Raleigh skyline and Centennial campus are breathtaking.
Some seven sets of tees challenge the very best players while also allowing high handicappers to enjoy themselves.
If I had only one round to play in Raleigh, it would be here.
River Ridge Golf Club
Chuck Smith was the mastermind behind the course at River Ridge. This spectacular layout meanders through rolling hills and hollows along the banks of the Neuse River.
This course was constructed in perfect harmony with nature, not against or around it. Tranquil is a word I’d use to describe a round here.
Even though this course isn’t terribly long, it’s shot values are true and varied. A mix of tough holes and risk and reward opportunities keep you engaged from the first tee through the 18th green.
A round to remember awaits at River Ridge.
Reedy Creek Golf Course
For more than 33 years, Reedy Creek has welcomed golfers from all over the Research Triangle.
The course was designed by Gene Hamm and occupies fertile ground that was formerly a working farm. Today, southern pines line the property and give off an air of gentility.
Championship Bermuda greens have virtually no grain and putt as true as pool tables.
It’s not a surprise Reedy Creek was awarded Golf Digest’s recognition as a “Best Place to Play”.
Affordable and a peaceful experience, Reedy Creek has a lot going for it.
The Neuse Country Club
As its name would suggest, The Neuse Country Club boasts an active private membership. However, the public is welcome to come play too.
The traditional layout blends old and modern design features in a way that makes the course playable yet challenging.
Rolling terrain and holes that move both left and right give the course character and make some interesting lies. You’ll need to hit a variety of shots and think your way around.
When you’re done with your round, make time for a drink and bite to eat in the Neuse Bar and Grill. Both the cocktail and food menus are a cut above.
The Preserve at Jordan Lake Golf Club
Davis Love III designed this iconic course that sits at the edge of Jordan Lake. Located just south of Chapel Hill, getting here is easy and well worth it. Golfweek called this course “One of the 40 Best New Courses” when it first opened.
The Preserve works its way through a hardwood forest where elevation changes can be found throughout.
This is target golf and missing in the wrong spot can prove penal. Into the greens, take note of where the holes are located and plan your approaches accordingly.
A high-quality, most scenic round of golf is what you can expect at the Preserve at Jordan Lake.
Eagle Ridge Golf Club
One of the best values in the area is just ten minutes from downtown Raleigh. It’s called Eagle Ridge Golf Club and it was designed by World Golf Hall of Fame member, Tom Kite.
Since it opened in 2000, good players have enjoyed the ample opportunities for risk and reward shots, while higher handicappers continue to tout this track’s playability. That’s due in large part to multiple sets of tees designed for golfers of all abilities.
The staff at Eagle Ridge treat everyone like family too. Collectively, they’re the epitome of southern hospitality.
A complete experience at a price that can’t be beat.
Riverwood Golf Club
Another great track along the Neuse River is Riverwood Golf Club.
Set on rolling terrain, this layout moves naturally along the land’s contours.
Three different nines comprise this facility. Each one has its own unique characteristics and needs to be played for the full experience.
Along with three great nines, the practice facility at Riverwood is second to none.
Spencer Hensley runs the instructional school at Riverwood. He’s widely respected for his ability to help golfers of all skill levels get better and enjoy the game.
Riverwood has everything you need.
The Crossings Golf Club
The Crossings Golf Club is in Durham, just a short drive from Raleigh.
The work of renowned architect Ron Garl, this course demands sound strategy and laser-like accuracy. If you miss big here, you’re going to pay the price as trouble lurks around every corner. Water comes into play on seven of the last nine holes.
Even though this course is one of the more difficult ones in the area, it’s fair.
The Crossings’ superb condition is what makes it a treat to play above all else. Bent grass greens are true and fast. The ball sits up in tightly mown Bermuda fairways.
If you’re looking for a course to test your game, play the Crossings.
Hedingham Golf Club
Hedingham Golf Club was designed by respected architect, David Postlethwait.
A local’s favorite, the course’s diversity is what makes it both fun and challenging. A mixture of long and short holes will have you using every club in your bag.
Like a lot of courses in the Raleigh area, you don’t need to hit it a mile off the tee. Instead, you need to be accurate.
During the week, this is one the more reasonably priced courses in Raleigh.
While Hedingham isn’t the fanciest course in the world, it’s a joy to play and definitely worth the price.
Olde Liberty Golf Club
Even though Olde Liberty is located in the heart of the Research Triangle, you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of nature when you play it.
A quiet setting that lacks any commercial or residential buildings. The setting is idyllic.
Measuring 7,200 yards from the back tees, this course is a challenge for long hitters. It’s also playable for folks that aren’t bombers too. Plenty of teeing grounds make that possible.
Another great value, don’t pass up a chance to play Olde Liberty.
Next time I’m in Raleigh, it’s going to be all about golf. Of course, I’ll take in all the other fun activities and culture, but there’s simply too much good golf to be played here.
It sounds like that’s the case for a lot of our readers as well. The amount of insight I received about golf in this area was overwhelming. Thanks to you all for your generous help. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. We’ll be back with more soon.