Laurel Ridge was originally settled by the family of Edward Hyatt shortly before the American Revolution. Over a century later, Hyatt’s great-grandson, Jefferson D. Hyatt, built what would eventually become the Piedmont Inn in the exact spot where the clubhouse stands today.
Over a short period of time, the Piedmont Inn became a beehive of activity with social events for local residents. It was also a cool summer destination for flatlanders and guests arrived via rail from as far away as Savannah, Charleston, New Orleans and Atlanta. When they arrived at the station, a horse-drawn carriage waited to take them to the Inn, giving visitors a sense of warmth and welcome.
Flash forward to modern times and you’ll find that Laurel Ridge Country Club and Event Center still embodies that same sense of peaceful serenity. These days it offers guests the opportunity to enjoy golf and other country club amenities in a cooler mountain climate. Laurel Ridge is located only minutes from downtown Waynesville, the birthplace of the internationally renowned Folkmoot Festival. The area is rife with recreational activities including hiking, bicycling, fly fishing, white water rafting and sight-seeing during the warmer months and snow skiing and snowboarding during the winter. But we’re here to talk about golf!
Laurel Ridge Country Club was designed by Bob Cupp who served as Jack Nicklaus’ senior designer for more than 15 years before forming his own firm. Nicklaus credits Cupp with being one of the cornerstones that helped make Nicklaus Design one of golf’s leading architectural firms. Cupp-designed courses have hosted over 50 national and international tournaments, including seven major championships. In 1992, Cupp was named Golf World Magazine’s first ever Golf Architect of the Year. Golf Digest and Golf Magazine have selected Cupp also has numerous courses on various Top 100 course lists.
Laurel Ridge plays 6,904 yards from the back tees with a course rating of 72.2 and a slope of 142. From back here, it will give even the best of players all they can handle. For those less masochistic, other Men’s tees measure 6,551 (70.7/134) and 6,093 (68.7/127). Seniors typically play from 5,174 (65.7/117) and the Ladies from 4,408 (66.1/124). Pick the tees that best suit your game and you’re sure to have a great time! The course opened in 1986 and plays on bent grass tees and greens. The fairways are a mixture of 90% bent grass and 10% blue grass, meaning they will always be green!
The course is everything you’d expect a mountain course to be yet is completely fair and playable. Yes there are hills, inclines and rolling faiways which not only test your ability to play from an uneven lie, but also tested the ability of Cupp’s chief course builder Jim Holmes. For much of the year the course is quite colorful, thanks to a wide variety of flowering plants and the autumn foliage of the mountains. The contour of the land, reflective ponds, flowing streams and a mixture of sand and grass bunkers all work together to create 18 holes of individual character. And, since summer temperatures at Laurel Ridge hover around 70 degrees on average and the thermometer in winter rarely dips below 40, this is a course that can be enjoyed year-round.
Cupp has stated that “A superior course needs a variety of lengths of holes, left or right turns, uphill and downhill, putting surface sizes and green settings, but every shot must be visible. If the player sees the shot, the player remembers the shot. My goal is for the players to remember their game.” This is true at Laurel Ridge as several holes stand out.
Number 4 is one that quickly comes to mind. It’s a par 4 that plays 363 yards downhill from the White Tees with a stream crossing the fairway about 255 yards out. Use that information wisely if you want to avoid the hazard. Your approach shot plays uphill to a large, elevated green surrounded by grass bunkers. The green features a false front and a lot of undulation.
Number 7 is a par 5 that is the #1 handicap at Laurel Ridge. The hole plays 508 yards from the White Tees and is somewhat of a risk/reward hole. From the tees, it’s about 160 yards to clear the water. the fairway slopes right to left and if by some stroke of luck you find the right center of the fairway, you’ll have the best angle into the green, whether you decide to go for it in two or in regulation. Either way, you’ll need top avoid the creek that meanders all the way down the left side before splitting and crossing in front of the green and up the left side. Playing this hole without penalty is somewhat of an accomplishment.
Number 15 is a par 5 that, if you’re not involved in any kind of money game, you should play from the back tees. The tips top 600 yards, 609 to be exact, and can be a lot of fun. From back here your aiming point is the tip of the mountain in the distance that splits the fairway. If you can uncork a monster drive and get over the plateau; you could easily gain an extra 80 yards on your drive and possibly have a go at the green in two. Most players will face a layup shot that will help determine their success or failure on the hole. This shot is all about leaving yourself the best lie and angle into the green. Ultimately you want to hit it to the low, flat area in front of the green, about 100 yards out. Anything short of that will leave a downhill lie for your approach. You’ll be playing into a green that slopes downward from the back left to the front right. There are no sand bunkers around this green, just a lot of grass mounding. Par or better could win you the hole!
Number 18 is a par 4 that plays 386 yards from the White tees. Try to split the hills on either side off the tee and favor the right side of the fairway. Miss the fairway on either side and you’ll most likely be dealing with trees in some way or another. Success of the tee will leave a mid-length approach shot is slightly downhill and plays over a creek to a relatively small and well-undulated green that is wider than it is deep. Take a par and consider the day a winner.
If you’re hungry after your round, stop by Laurel Ridge’s dining room. In addition to your favorite post-golf libation, they serve up several tasty and unique dishes. Start off with the Thai Curried Frog Legs with pepper, onion and toasted almonds. The blackened Sunburst Trout is a great choice for entrees and is served with lemon, parsley and brown butter. The Shrimp ‘n’ Grits is a good choice too – large gulf shrimp combined with pepper, onions, tomato and applewood-smoked bacon served over creamy cheese grits. A variety of daily dessert creations are available too. Laurel Ridge boasts an impressive wine list, so pairing your favorite entrée with a delicious wine is never a problem.
Laurel Ridge Country Club now offers stay and play packages the newly renovated Inn on the Green features 4 guest rooms that are located in the heart of the club. Each room features its own separate entrance, two queen beds, modern furnishings, Wi-Fi, and flat screen televisions. In room amenities including a Keurig coffee maker and refrigerator. If you’re part of a larger group, ask about one of the luxury log cabin estate homes that are available at The Hideaway at Laurel Ridge located at the top of Eagle’s Nest Mountain.
Step outside your door after enjoying a delicious in-room continental breakfast, and you’ll find yourself conveniently located at the short game area and the 1st tee. Located just across the parking lot is a full-length driving range where you can swing away to your heart’s content – or at least until it’s your turn on the tee!
After you’ve had the opportunity to sample everything that Laurel Ridge has to offer, you may want to consider becoming a member of the club. Membership is so much more than golf, especially if you’re a tennis lover or are just trying to meet new friends and improve your social life. It’s also a great place to entertain friends or just spend the day with the family relaxing by the pool.
Several membership plans are available including:
Golf Membership – This gives you full access to all of Laurel Ridge’s amenities plus year-round, unlimited golf with no green fees; you simply pay a cart fee each time you play. As a golf member, you also have the option to join the driving range program as well as the Men’s/Ladies’ Golf Associations.
Sports Membership – Gives you unlimited seasonal access to the heated pool and Har-Tru clay tennis courts, 24-hour access to the fitness center as well as club dining. As a Sports member you can also play one round of golf per month at a discounted rate.
Social Membership – Enjoy year-round dining and social activities, 24-hour fitness center access as well as limited pool and tennis use. You can also play one round of golf per month at a discounted rate.
If you are considering relocation to the Waynesville, NC area and are looking for a quick way to engage socially, Laurel Ridge Country Club has the answer. With a superb golf course, excellent tennis facilities, scrumptious dining and a social calendar packed with events, look no further than membership at Laurel Ridge Country Club. For more information, give them a call at (828) 452-0545 or visit them online at www.laurelridgeexperience.com.