The 10 Best Donald Ross Public Golf Courses in North Carolina

Over a dozen of Donald Ross-designed courses in North Carolina are open to the public. They're also (mostly) easy on the wallet and many can be booked online.

During his career as the leading course architect, Donald Ross shaped more than 50 courses between Asheville and Wilmington. Nearly 40 of Donald Ross’s North Carolina courses are still in play today. And about half of them are accessible to the public.

Here are 10 public Donald Ross courses to consider on your next break or “work trip” that honour the master architect’s legacy for your next golf tour of North Carolina.

1. Pinehurst No. 2 (Donald Ross’s Masterpiece)

While professionals, celebrities, and back-to-back U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open championships have made Pinehurst’s No. 2 famous, anyone can play there as a resort guest. As possibly the most renowned of Donald Ross’ courses, Pinehurst No. 2 also holds a special piece of history — his former home sits off the third green.

While there, you can also play Pinehurst Resort’s No. 1 and No. 3 courses, which are also Donald Ross originals.

2. Omni Grove Park Inn

Located in Asheville, the Omni Grove Park Inn Golf Course is nearly as famous and challenging as Pinehurst. Built in 1926, Presidents and PGA Tours still play here. The 6,055-yard course features tree-lined fairways and views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, staying true to Donald Ross’s ability to blend natural landscapes with his creations.

3. Pine Needles Golf Course

Pine Needles is just minutes from downtown Southern Pines and the Village of Pinehurst. This immaculate 1927 Donald Ross Course was founded by Peggy Kirk Bell, a World Golf Hall of Famer. In particular, hole 3 (par 3) is considered one of Donald Ross’s best. Hosting four U.S. Women’s Open Championships, Pine Needles is known for both its historic significance and commitment to excellence.

4. Asheville Golf Course

The Asheville Golf Course is one of the oldest courses in Western North Carolina. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the course was designed by Donald Ross in 1927. While the front nine (3,246 yards) and the back nine (3,194 yards) are shorter than the average PGA Tour courses today, Asheville Golf Course challenges golfers with several different elevations.

5. Wilmington Municipal Golf Course

Nicknamed “the Muni” by its fans, the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course is considered one of the top courses in North Carolina. Designed by Ross in 1926 to provide the people of Wilmington a championship-level 18 hole golf course.

Completely revitalized in 2014, the four-month $1.5 million project restored the course to Donald Ross’ original design by doubling the greens and restoring the bunkers.

6. Asheboro Municipal Golf Club

Don’t have time for a full 18? The Asheboro Municipal Golf Club is minutes from downtown Asheboro and is a great 9-hole course. Designed by Donald Ross in 1935, it’s located on 56 acres and features beautiful tree-lined greenways.

7. Black Mountain Golf Course

Nestled at the foot of the Black Mountain Range in Western North Carolina, the Black Mountain Golf Course was established in 1929. The front nine were designed by Ross and at one time the course held the record for the longest hole in the world. Located 15 minutes from Asheville, you can go for the golf and stay for the spectacular mountain views.

8. Lenoir Golf Club

Located in Lenoir, North Carolina, the Lenoir Golf Club was a 9-hole course when it opened in 1928. In 1945 Ross worked his magic and expanded the course 18-holes. With two creeks running through the course, it’s known as a fun-to-play course that requires good shot-making to avoid water hazards.

9. Sanford Municipal Golf Course

The Sanford Municipal Golf Course is a thirty-minute drive from Raleigh, Fayetteville and Pinehurst, making it an easy stop on any state golf tour. Originally designed by Ross in 1934, the course features beautiful scenery, fast greens and friendly staff.

10. Southern Pines Golf Club

Opened in 1906, this 6500-yard vintage Southern Pine course is a renowned authentic American gem. It’s the third original course Donald Ross ever designed, and is open to not only member but to the general public as well. If you’re looking for a great experience this course winds around a series of knolls and ridges for some of the most dramatic golf terrains in the Sandhills.

Donald Ross helped shape the golf landscape in North Carolina, and in doing so, made sure to create courses the public could enjoy. Today, there are many options for residents, travellers and golf enthusiasts of all walks of life to explore across the state.

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