Photo courtesy of Talamore Golf Resort
Twenty-five years ago, Charlotte public relations agency owner Bill Hensley didn’t think the famous national golf publications were treating North Carolina’s esteemed courses fairly. “I was ticked at how the magazines rated our courses, so I said, ‘I’ll get a panel together and we’ll have our own damned rating,’” he recalls.
A gifted promoter, Hensley convened a group of 100 talented golfers, ink-stained writers and some businesspeople to travel around rating the state’s best links. Early members included N.C. golfing legends such as Harvie Ward and Peggy Kirk Bell, along with some hackers whose love for the sport exceeded their skill level. Thus was born the N.C. Golf Panel, which presents its 25th annual report on the state’s 100 best courses in this magazine.
The 2020 list is little changed from last year’s, with the exception of Pinehurst No. 4, which returned to a top 10 rating after a 2018 redesign by architect Gil Hanse reduced its turf acreage by 40%. Its more famous sibling course, Pinehurst No. 2, claimed its traditional top spot, followed by western N.C. favorites Grandfather Golf & Country Club of Linville and Mountaintop Golf & Lake Club of Cashiers. The latter course, designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 2006, is among the state’s most exclusive, with golf memberships limited to 350 property owners in the development.
Other courses that rose in this year’s rankings include No. 55 Grandover Resort in Greensboro, which was 63rd last year, and No. 56 The Currituck Club in Corolla, which had been 66th previously.
Hensley, 94, says he only played one round last year, but he still enjoys talking with golf panel members about the strengths and weaknesses of the various Tar Heel State tracks. “I think the panel has turned out really well.”
Click below to view a PDF of additional lists
Par Yardage Course Rating/Slope
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