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
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
Dead Broke Farm's name derives not only from the cost of owning horses, but also from the terminology for teaching a horse to wear a saddle—known in the industry as “breaking a horse to ride.” Trainers stable “dead broke,” or thoroughly saddle-trained, horses, alongside more spirited animals on the 110-acre farm. They also house steeds saved through their horse-rescue program, with more than 70 of their mounts avoiding fates in slaughterhouses and other undesirable ends since 2004.
Horses show off their trotting chops during farm trail rides, carrying riders on explorations of the rolling hills and whispering creeks scattered across more than 10 miles of bridle trails cut through woods populated by deer, cranes, and other wildlife. Private rides allow for more personalized routes and can incorporate stops at scenic ponds for proposals or more challenging terrain for advanced riders. Instructors also schedule horseback-riding lessons, teaching balance through rides over undulating terrain rather than through exercises such as riding a horse that is riding a seesaw.
Melanie Dale?s passion for dance is infectious. After graduating college with a degree in ballet performance, she extended her repertoire by exploring partnership dancing. She has since seasoned her artistry with over 29 years of experience in ballroom and Latin styles, participating in international competitions and becoming a certified championship judge. Today, the former ballerina shares her love of dance with her pupils at her studio A Step to Gold International Ballroom. She welcomes tentative and experienced dancers alike, teaching them fancy footwork to debut at an upcoming party or wedding. Along with a full staff of professional dance instructors, she whisks students to their feet to execute dozens of styles including the beat-driven cha-cha, passionate tango, and elegant Viennese waltz. In addition to technique-centered classes, she offers dance-inspired workouts such as Zumba, which fuses Latin music with body-sculpting dance moves.
Sculpted through undulating, woodland terrain, Eagle Ridge Golf Club's par 71 course is a 6,904-yard testament to the inventive design of 1992 U.S. Open Champion Tom Kite, who made roughly two dozen trips to the site while crafting the layout. Multiple high-risk, high-reward shots manifest themselves throughout the round, creating a pin-hunting experience that—unlike trying to guess where the valet hid your car keys—challenges players without sacrificing fun. With many shots into elevated or downhill greens, the course places sound wedge and short-iron shots at a premium.
Before or after rounds, clubbers can warm up at the practice green or swing to their heart's content at the driving range, where practice balls paint racing stripes on themselves in anticipation of their trip into the clouds. To further promote score-shaving form, the club's pro shop peddles the latest in technologically enhanced golf gear, a PGA staffer offers lessons and clinics, and the dining facility fuels muscles for the next tape-measure drive.
Sparians Bowling Boutique & Bistro aims to elevate the traditional alley experience by creating a lounge-like environment suitable for a daytime family outing as well as a night out on the town. Comfortable, plush couches replace the hard plastic seats normally stationed behind lanes, giving visitors places to more easily kick back and relax in between frames. Black lights lend a midnight-worthy glow to the bowling areas, transforming each ball into a neon streak as it hurtles toward the pins. A perfect score is rarely the primary goal, though. Instead, Sparians encourages visitors of all skill levels to come and enjoy themselves in an environment determined to bring bowling alleys into the 21st century.
Beyond the lanes, the entertainment center features numerous opportunities for guests looking to pass a few hours. A separate upscale-sports-bar area helps quench thirsts with frosty beers or potent cocktails and serves hearty comfort foods such as crispy chicken wings, burgers, and stone-baked pizzas.