Henry A. Lister
Carolinas Golf Association Rater
The NC Golf Panel Top 100 Courses in NC is associated with the Business NC magazine and was created 20 years ago to promote the NC golf industry. Each year the NCGP releases its ranking of the Top 100 courses in NC, a list that includes both private and public courses (visit NCGolfPanel.com for the complete list). There are several other listings such as Rank by Region, Courses You Can Play and Best Facilities.
Six courses broke into the Top 100 for the first time in several years. Only ONE new course opened since 2016 and it made it into the Top 100. Compass Pointe GC, #89 (Leland) opened to rave reviews as an environmentally friendly public course and is a product of local architect Rick Robbins. He has been working in China of late so Compass Pointe must have offered something significant to bring him back to NC. The Peninsula Club at #76 (Cornelius), on the shores of Lake Norman, made its debut in the Top 100 after significant upgrades by Rees Jones. Mimosa Hills (Morganton) jumps in at #79, finally receiving much warranted accolades after a significant renovation by Kris Spence who returned the course to its original Donald Ross design. Venerable Benvenue CC returns as #86 (Rocky Mount) after nearly a decade’s absence. Brook Valley CC at #96 received much needed attention from McConnell Golf and was favorably acknowledged by NC Golf Panelists. Finally, Pinehurst No. 6 (Pinehurst) was recognized as #98, making it the sixth of the Pinehurst Resort’s 9 courses in the Top 100.
As you might have surmised, renovation of a golf course becomes necessary every 20 years or so. Thus, it is not uncommon for courses to come and go from the Top 100 list. For some courses, not matter how much you put into repairing bunkers, reseeding greens, removing trees and brush or repairing the clubhouse the basic layout of the course will limit how high it could ever appear in the rankings. Making it into the Top 100 (of NC’s 510 courses) is a significant accomplishment.
There was little change among the NCGP Top 100, although my ranking from previous years has changed. Improvements at Croasdaile, the Governors Club, Chapel Hill CC and Old Chatham GC increased their ranking with me. New to my list is North Ridge CC’s Lakes course. Old Chatham will be hosting the USGA’s Senior Amateur Championship Aug. 24–29.
Among the 31 publicly accessible courses in the Top 100, only 5 courses are in the Triangle: UNC Finley (39th and 7th public), Duke (41st & 8th public), Lonnie Poole (61st & 13th public), Mill Creek (88th & 21st public) and Heritage Club (99th & 28th public).
I remain totally confounded that more public courses, especially those here in the Triangle, don’t make the Top 100 list (I know this is an annual rant, let me just get it out of the way). The Panel and I still disagree on several fronts, notable on the quality of The Neuse and Tobacco Road (which does not count as a Triangle course). Leaving these two courses off the Top 100 list can only bring a sense of irrelevance and disregard for the NC Golf Panel. In an age when common sense ain’t so common I can only hope that the many new members of the Panel see the light and produce sensible rankings next year.