From the very first tee shot over a lake to the pond protecting the left side of the 18th green, the course at River Ridge Golf Club pits players against the physical and psychological challenges brought by omnipresent water hazards, including the Neuse River that intersects the course on several holes.
Architect Chuck Smith’s 1997 design weaves course play through a 6,740-yard gauntlet furnished with a plush carpet of bermuda-grass fairways and rough that gives way to fast-moving G-6 bent-grass greens. The course's signature 5th hole rewards golfers who keep their tee shots on the fairway with a short-iron approach that must clear a large pond and any caddies sunbathing in the large greenside bunker.
As a semiprivate club, membership at River Ridge unlocks a slew of benefits not available to the general public. Though the practice area—composed of a driving range and putting and chipping greens—is open to everyone, only members may make use of the locker rooms, club storage, and handicap program provided at the clubhouse. Additionally, members are granted access to special events, tournaments, and PGA pro Tim Cockrell’s lessons, which help players calibrate putting strokes and find their swing after a long time away from the game to search for their favorite golf ball that got lost in the Neuse River.
Course at a Glance:
* 18-hole, par-72 course
* Total length of 6,740 yards from the back tees
* Course rating of 72.2 from the back tees
* Course slope of 138 from the back tees
* Four sets of tees per hole
Named among Golfweek magazine's Best New Courses and Best Campus Courses in 2010, Lonnie Poole Golf Course tests players of all skill levels with 18 challenging holes spread over 250 acres of Raleigh woodlands. Designed by the Arnold Palmer Design Group—including two North Carolina State grads as architects—the landscape features several shifts in elevation as the greens meander around large buffer areas. In its abundant turf grass and stormwater runoffs, the course also facilitates research from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences while taking extra care to preserve the streams and wild golf balls native to the Neuse River watershed.
As both the NC State men's and women's golf teams can attest, Lonnie Poole challengers golfers from the very first tee, which taunts drivers with bunkers on both sides and a sharp fall-off past the green. From there, the fifth hole ups the ante with a dogleg to the right and tall trees, whereas the 12th hole sends shots hurtling down a downhill fairway that narrows as the green nears and primes its anti-air missiles.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par 72 course
Total length of 7,358 yards from the back tees
Course rating of 74.8 from the back tees
Course slope of 145 from the back tees
Five sets of tees per hole