When renowned course architect Ellis Maples first laid eyes on the rolling expanse of land in the Sandhills, he knew he had found the venue for his next course. Whispering Woods Golf Club encompasses both gentle slopes and steeper hills, offering a dynamic canvas atop which Maples designed holes with stark elevation changes. Today, golfers encounter a diverse layout that showcases anything from treacherously undulating bentgrass greens to a small roller coaster for bored caddies to enjoy. Carolina pines line the edges of the fairways and greens throughout the round, stretching out their thin trunks to snag any errant shots. The end product of Ellis’s vision is an 18-hole, 6,324-yard layout described by course architect Dan Maples, Ellis’s son, as “a golf course designed with the average player in mind, but good players won’t find a pushover.”
Featuring two cypress lakes and scenic panoramas, this 18-hole championship course provides golfers with 6,307 yards of challenging tee-to-green terrain. The design demands consistently well-placed drives to avoid strategically placed sand bunkers, which hug friendly fairways and butterfly-kiss undulating bent-grass greens. Depending on which of the course’s five sets of tees you opt to play from, some tee shots may require you to traverse obstructing water and hypnotize territorial mermen. Complimentary carts expedite the wayward orb-fetching process provided you stay on land, and the course’s frequent elevation changes will make you grateful for your four-wheel gopher and your two-eye face, with which you can enjoy the course’s sweeping vistas.
The course at Gates Four Golf and Country Club was opened in 1967, but you wouldn't know it from the youthful conditions of the grounds. Players traverse a course that boasts USGA-approved bent grass greens and completely overhauled bunkers thanks to a 2011 renovation. The surrounding pine trees, meanwhile, cast their elongated shadows across each fairway in the twilight hours, giving them a railroad-tie effect as players finish off their rounds.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 6,895 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 73.3 from the back tees * Course slope of from the back tees * Five sets of tees per hole * Scorecard
Bowlers can pursue pin-felling prominence for two hours at Family Sports Center, strapped securely inside a pair of aerodynamic rental footwear. Send weighty orbs careening down the center or swirling in the shape of your signature on any of the alley's 32 lanes, in as many games as you can muster in two hours. Automatic scoring appears on TVs that float overhead, preventing the need for recounts and game-settling thumb wars. Children younger than 12 years old can bank lighter balls off of bumpers summoned from underground slumber. Purchase up to two additional Groupons as gifts and come as a crowd, or extend the focus from your solitaire tournament to side-by-side solo bowls.
Crooked Creek Golf Club blankets the rolling Carolina countryside with a 6,271-yard layout that challenges golfers with dramatic elevation changes and high-risk high-reward opportunities. The longer of the two halves, the front nine showcases numerous shot-making opportunities, including the drive on the par-four third hole, where golfers must choose to play it safe or try to cut the corner on a water hazard that hugs the left side.
Dramatic elevation changes await on the course’s second act, where the rolling terrain is intersected by multiple water hazards and sweeping views of the surrounding topography. After a day at the links, golfers can refuel with a cheeseburger or a platter of torn up scorecards at Club’s restaurant, The Turning Point Grill.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Length of 6,271 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 70.4 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 132 from the farthest tees * Four tee options
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 * Scorecard