THE SPIRIT OF STANLY: BEFORE! Two courses carry on the county’s golfing heritage – The Stanly News & Press
(Editor’s note: This is one of many stories featured in the March 27, 2022 issue of The Stanly News & Press, which included a special section titled Spirit of Stanly.)
The sport of golf has a long-standing relationship with Stanly County, from the early days of the sport to its more recent versions.
From the days of the Stanly County Country Club and the Mountain Brook Golf Course to today’s courses and shapes, golf has experienced a boom in recent years.
From traditional golf courses like Piney Point and Red Bridge to public (Fox Chase) and private (Hardaway Point) disc golf courses, the sport continues to thrive.
The sport that developed on the links in Scotland is still practiced today on the courses of Piney Point and Red Bridge.
Piney Point Golf Club, at 48688 Piney Point Road, Norwood, offers the traditional golf experience with many new features.
The course was built in 1964 under a federal grant program that allowed towns with a population of 2,500 or less to turn farmland into recreational areas. Local leaders, including Kermit L. Young and Robert L. Isenhour, helped lead a group to secure memberships and the loans needed to build the club.
J. Porter Gibson of Charlotte designed the Piney Point course on 165 acres of land for 375 charter members to enjoy. The club included a swimming pool.
“Basically, (Piney Point) was creating recreational activities for people in the community at a reasonable price, and I think we’ve been trying to do that ever since,” golf chief Dave VanDeventer said.
Today the greens have been updated twice and are considered one of the club’s best golf features. Last updated in 2016, Bermuda’s hybrid turf greens provide a quality surface for year-round play.
VanDeventer, who will celebrate 40 years of working at Piney Point next year, said the golf course was player-friendly.
“You can hit it and find it for the most part, and golfers like it,” VanDeventer said. “Players can spray (the ball) from fairway to fairway and still find it.”
The Piney Point pro also said most golfers can hit the driver on more holes on the Norwood course than others in the area.
The club has about 280 members, but the semi-private course welcomes a number of players from surrounding counties.
Piney Point also has a number of youth programs, including a junior PGA team that competes in tournaments over the summer months against teams from other courses in the area.
The Piney Point Clubhouse has a snack bar with hot grills and a well-stocked pro shop.
Red Bridge Golf Club is the newest of the county’s golf courses and offers a real golfing challenge for golfers of all skill levels.
The property, at 6801 Gatehouse Road in Locust, spans across the county lines of Stanly and Cabarrus. It is only 25 minutes from downtown Charlotte via the four-lane NC Highway 24-27.
With a length of over 6,700 yards, ending with an 18th hole that plays 639 yards from the black tees, Red Bridge offers golfers a scenic experience and a challenge to tee high and let it fly.
The course was designed by David Postlethwait, a protege of famed designer Pete Dye, in 2009.
Mark Davis, managing director of Red Bridge, said the course is not as long as many modern championship courses.
“It’s a good test of golf,” he said. “I would say this is a more challenging golf course than most for sure.”
Some of the holes, Davis said, require placement off the tee, so the course may play longer than its actual distance.
Davis said the course has a unique topography and has a lot of drop offs, but what sets it apart from other courses are the greens.
“(The greens) are very defined and undulating, and our green speeds are good,” Davis said.
The location of the semi-private course benefited from the four-lane road to Charlotte, according to Davis. The course sees many golfers from Stanly and Cabarrus during the week and traffic from Mecklenburg picks up at weekends.
With traditional golf courses like Mountain Brook and Stanly County Country Club no longer in operation, the new sport of disc golf has grown in recent years.
The original, and perhaps the most physically demanding of Stanly’s courses, is Fox Chase.
Located at Chuck Morehead Park and operated by the Town of Albemarle’s Parks and Recreation Department, it is an 18-hole championship-level course that requires golfers to walk over varying elevations.
The walking/running track that winds through the woods of Morehead Park has hosted many high school championship cross-country competitions and tests the fitness of golfers and runners.
An annual event, the Ice Bowl, has challenged disc golfers to play in cold conditions for 13 years. The one-day, two-round PDGA-sanctioned event brought together golfers from amateur to professional level.
Fox Chase ranks among the toughest courses in the state and beyond according to several disc golf websites.
Other public courses at City Lake Park in Albemarle, Richfield Town Park and Oakboro District Park also offer varied challenges for disc golfers.
The newest disc golf course is also a rarity in the world of this burgeoning sport: a private course.
Hardaway Point Golf Course is built on part of the former Stanly County Golf Club and Badin Inn Golf Club.
Owners Vanessa Mullinax and Stephanie Owens, who also own the 1913 Badin Inn on the property, opened the course which was designed by Bryon Carter of the Albemarle Disc Golf Association.
The course takes advantage of the fairways and elevations of the old course to challenge golfers for $5 per round.
Hardaway Point is open seven days a week, but also has a bar and grill for golfers, open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Future plans for the course include a number of tournaments as well as the addition of a game room with a pool table, air hockey, video games and more.