128. Grandfather Golf & Country Club
Ellis Maples (1967) / Bobby Weed (2015)
Back when Grandfather Golf & Country Club made the 100 Greatest in 2001, we wrote, “This is a Grandfather we haven’t seen often enough. . . a reminder of the architectural talent of the late Ellis Maples. . . With roughs of rocks and rhododendron amid ever-present hemlocks, and sweeping greens guarded by bold bunkers, Grandfather feels like home. Maybe this time he’ll stay.” He didn’t, dropping off in 2011. But Grandfather made it back on in 2015, only to slip to the Second 100 Greatest in 2017, despite some remodeling by Bobby Weed in 2016. Will it ever climb the summit again? Who knows, but it helps that there is probably no more attractive mountain course anywhere in the rankings. Never count this Grandfather out.
100 Greatest History: Ranked 1971 through 1978, 1993-1994, 2001 through 2010 and 2013-2014. Ranked on Second 100 Greatest: 2015 through current. Highest ranking: No. 65 (2007-2008). Previous ranking: No. 121.
Panelist comments, Grandfather Golf & Country Club:
“To date, this is the best mountain golf course I have rated or played. Ellis Maples did an outstanding job of framing each hole with the surrounds. Each hole stands on its own and is nicely isolated from other holes while still maintaining a very walkable golf course. The connectivity created by the mountain streams and other water features provide wonderful eye candy and soothing sounds.”
“Possibly the best combination of playability and resistance to scoring that I have seen on a course. The green complexes are difficult but quite fair with the actual greens creating some severe breaking putts that will test a players’ creativity.”
“The greens were moderately contoured but very difficult to putt because of the surrounding mountain and terrain. It is a good test of golf that requires an accurate second approach shot.”
“The 18-hole, par-59 Mountain Springs is a ton of fun to play. What a great thing to have for junior golfers—this would be the ideal place to learn the game. It should be a model for other clubs.”
“Grandfather is worthy of its long-held spot in our national rankings, but it does lag behind some of the outstanding courses in the North Carolina mountains, like Mountaintop and Diamond Creek. With some slight renovations, that could change—including some tree removal and improvement to its green complexes. In addition, while they are beautiful and I certainly wouldn’t remove them in many places, there are opportunities to remove some rhododendrons, as every hole is surrounded by them, causing any errant ball to be lost. With more open playing spaces, this amazingly beautiful property would be highlighted even more and Grandfather would be as good as it can be.”