Marion Lake Club's parcel of fertile land borders the mighty Lake James to the north and Pisgah National Forest to the east, forming a scenic cradle for the 18-hole golf course. In fact, part of the course fills a peninsula jutting out into the lake itself, creating the potential for a water-logged round if golfers spray their golf shots off the tee or find themselves at the helm a feral golf cart. Meanwhile, Linville Gorge and Shortoff Mountain hover on the horizon, giving players better aiming points as they corral their golf balls over the Bermuda fairways and bent grass greens that line the rolling terrain.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 70 course * Total length of 6,174 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 70.4 from the back tees * Course slope of 126 from the back tees * Five sets of tees per hole * View the scorecard
The path to straighter drives and lower scores is paved with range balls. Northlake Golf Club—a practice facility for golfers of all abilities—fosters full-swing practice at a driving range with a target field that extends more than 300 yards into the distance. A 40-yard short-game area helps golfers develop softer touch around the greens, and bunkers provide a convenient venue for them to practice getting out of the sand without worrying about ballooning scores. After swinging through a bucket of balls, guests can rest and watch TV at the outdoor gazebo or graze on the synthetic grass of the putting green.
Duffers can turn to The Range on Oak Grove for assistance in three key aspects of golfing: swing, distance, and accuracy. The first falls to PGA teaching professional Phil Cassidy, whose sage instructions can be tailored for students of all ages and a swathe of swing types. The latter two are the domain of the range itself, where markers calibrated with a laser distance finder provide players with pinpoint feedback on their long shots, and targets that mimic course layouts challenge chippers to accurately drop approaching shots and frustrated overhand lobs. Should visitors not have their own clubs on hand, the range curates a collection of loaners.
Golf Depot's grass-hitting tees, covered and heated hitting bays, and lineup of expert instructors create a immersive environment in which to improve your game. Players can hone everything from their full swing, while emptying buckets onto the range, to their touch around the greens, possible in any kind of weather thanks to an indoor putting green. When practice by rote ceases to yield steady improvement, senior instructors Chris Hardman and Aaron Russell can take the reigns and pass on their extensive golf expertise through private and group lessons.
Hemmed by thickets of native grasses, a babbling brook winds along the fairways of The Golf Village's nine-hole, par 3 course, setting a relaxing tone that seems appropriate for a pared-down layout friendly to leisurely golfers. Adjacent to the course, The Golf Village's driving range fosters golf-game improvement during pre- or postround sessions. The range lets clubbers hit off grass tees throughout the year, and towering light fixtures hang above the green valley, allowing golfers to hone their swing after a day spent at the office or attempting to melt their leftover Civil War bullets into a set of golf clubs.
PGA instructor Phil Cassidy runs the show at Upstate Golf Schools, which helps both youngsters and adults on their path to becoming golf aces. The instructors draw from their experience in classes that begin with the basics, such as grip, stance, alignment, and weight transfer, starting players out on the right foot. They give hands-on feedback during lessons and clinics, and they also offer clubs for use during sessions so youth can learn about the game without having to buy their own.