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
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.
Prolific course architect David Postlethwait sculpted Hedingham Golf Club's 18-hole course, artfully integrating the area's naturally undulating terrain, dense tree-lines, and rippling waterways into a seamless and scenic layout. Wooded areas loom at the edges of multiple fairways, forming natural boundaries that reach out twiggy arms to snag golf balls and plant them in the ground to one day bloom into argyle socks. Newly installed bermuda grass greens await at the end of every fairway; their smooth, slick surfaces ready to complicate putts with tricky breaks. Sequestered in the middle of the Hedingham Community near the scenic shores of the Neuse River, the club also encompasses an expansive practice facility, where players can warm up or enlist the expertise of one of the Club's resident instructors or immortal three-irons.
Course at a Glance
18-hole, par 71 course
Total length of 6,529 yards
Course rating of 71.6
Course slope of 124
The 18-hole course at the semi-private Wildwood Green Golf Club showcases a scenic path cut through dense forest and past intersecting waterways. The par 70 layout demands precision off the tee, a characteristic that becomes evident early in the round. On the second hole, players must keep their tee shots between two creeks that cut across the fairway while also avoiding thickets of trees to the right and left. On the par 3 sixth hole, it's critical that tee shots find the green, as water awaits those who leave a shot short or hit it too long, a feat further complicated by erratic winds and rabid golf carts grazing on native grasses in the rough.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par 70 course
Total length of 6,473 yards from the back tees
Course rating of 70.4 from the back tees
Course slope of 129 from the back tees
Four sets of tees per hole
As one of the oldest courses in the Raleigh area, Raleigh Golf Association’s 18-hole course retains the same expanse of lush greenery as its 1929 prototype while benefiting from a number of refinements made during a 1998 renovation overseen by David Postlethwaite. Fairways arch over emerald waves of grass, connecting to form a 6,088-yard course dotted with mature trees and waterways. The club also encompasses a nine-hole course that is occasionally open to the public and always open to Arnold Palmer doppelgängers. A pro shop stocked with the latest golf gear and accessories beckons to golfers in need of new equipment.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, 6,088-yard course
Course rating of 68.8 from the farthest tees
Slope rating of 123 from the farthest tees
Four tee options