Friday, August 12, 2011

Country Club Of North Carolina (Cardinal)

The Country Club of North Carolina (CCNC) is one of the premier private clubs in the sandhills region of North Carolina. The club features two 18-hole golf courses, named Dogwood and Cardinal. The club was built in the late 1950s originally with just the Dogwood golf course, which has become known as its better of the two golf courses. The Cardinal golf course was added in 1970 as a third nine hole option for the member of the club, but was later expanded to a full 18 holes in 1981. CCNC has hosted numerous Carolina Amateurs, numerous Southern Amateurs and the U.S. Amateur in 1980. Most recently, the Dogwood golf course held the U.S. Girls Junior in 2010. The course has a good amount of golfing history, and deservedly so because it is boasts a wonderful clubhouse and two spectacular golf courses. CCNC is somewhat off the radar of most people’s minds when they think of sandhills golf because its neighbor, The Pinehurst Resort is the centerpiece of golf in the area.

I was lucky enough to play the Cardinal course at CCNC, which is a Robert Trent Jones Sr. design and quite possibly could be one of his best designs that is not very well known amongst the average golfer.  The experience started out nicely when we were greeted at the front gate by the security guard who welcomed us to the community and wished us luck during our round as we passed through the front gate, which had the impressive CCNC logo emblazoned on it in gold.  The parking lot was unique in that all the spaces to park were on beds of pine straw, which I found was pretty neat and very fitting for the area.

After settling up with the golf shop and hitting a few putts on the practice putting green we headed to the first hole, which was a very nice starting hole that eases the golfer into the round. The first is a short par four that bend slightly to the left and has an uphill approach to the green.

You had better used that first hole to start the round off well because the next three holes, numbers two, three and four are very difficult holes. Each hole shares a water hazard with the other two holes. The second hole is a par five with water somewhat hidden to the player on the approach to the green. A slightly wayward shot can easily find the water if heading long or to the right of the green. The third hole is a lengthy par three with water in front of and to the left of the green. Bailing out to the right would be a standard play for most players, but missing to the right is almost just as bad because of a deep bunker and hills that make any chip or pitch shot extremely difficult. The fourth hole is a medium length par four with water on the left off of the tee. The difficult part of the hole is the approach shot to the green, which is covered by water in front and to the right. The edges of the greens fall steeply off into the water and are sure to deflect any shot struck just short or off target to a watery grave. This collection of holes, I feel, really made the golf course impressive and challenging.

The remainder of the front nine is very good, especially the ninth hole. The ninth hole is a par five that reminds me of what golf in the Pinehurst area is known for. It is straight away, with a downhill second shot, then an uphill third shot into the green. The green is protected well with some bunkering and steep green edges, but the part of the hole that sticks out in my mind is best viewed when standing on the green. Looking back down the fairway you see a perfectly straight cut of fairway for hundreds of yards, with forests of pine trees lining the fairway on both sides of the fairway. This image reminded me of what I had always envisioned golf in the sandhills as being.

The back nine featured a collection of very difficult and long par threes. If you are able to survive the par threes with a good score, it is very possible to score well on the back nine.

The finishing hole is a downhill par four that, after a good drive, can be reached with a wedge or short iron. The green is fronted by a nice water hazard that is capable of swallowing up any shot that comes up short.

Playing at CCNC was definitely a treat and I am greatly looking forward to coming back to play the Dogwood course at some point in the near future.