WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 20, 2017
 
Blog TRAVEL
ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA: TO A TEE
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Asheville's vaunted craft beer scene and bohemian rep have made the destination a darling of the travel cognoscenti, who love to blather themselves hoarse over cities that are just ever so slightly under the radar. A New York Times scribe once gushed that this North Carolina city is an "Appalachian Shangri-la" and praised the Parisian vibe of its art deco skyscrapers.  

While this brewtopia’s architectural styling is notable, and many good folks make the trek here to gawk at Biltmore (America's largest home), fawning over fine furnishings and knocking back stein after stein of Gateway Kölsch and Barrel Aged Bourbon Vortex II aren't what brought me here. Nope, calling me were the area’s highfalutin golf offerings and my first stop took me to the crest of a mountain.

MOUNTAIN AIR … STARE!

Aside from their cloying cuteness, the only weapon Care Bears — those cuddly cloud-dwelling teddies — have is a light beam that emanates from their tummy. If you spot a bear cub on Mountain Air, you may be forgiven for momentarily envisioning a winged golf ball on its belly and thinking you’ve gotten those Sasquatch-hunting nuts beat, having just encountered a real life Care Bear. It takes a couple self-slaps to make sure you're not dreaming but actually playing a course that, at times, literally appears to be floating in the clouds. 

Adorable baby deer scamper across fairways batting their Bambi lashes. The 6,794-foot peak of Mount Mitchell pierces the eastern horizon and this high altitude serenity-inducer is replete with spots where you can see for miles and miles, including the cliffside green on No. 8 where you can indulge in a 100-click eyeful of gorgeous countryside.  

A quarter of this club’s members are pilots. What draws the aviators to this scenic Scott Pool design? An airstrip bisects the front nine and there’s even a swanky pad to park your Cessna right by the cart path. At Mountain Air you can go from wheels down to skying one on the first tee box in 10 minutes flat. 

READING THE GREENS & STREAMS AT MT. MITCHELL 

The first act may feel garden variety, but Mt. Mitchell Golf Club’s majestic grandeur takes centre stage on the back nine as you venture deeper into the woods, more than justifying its 4.5 star Golf Digest rating.

A couple of avid fisherman in my foursome were enamoured with the trout-stocked creek that burbles alongside many a fairway. Stray shots provided them the excuse to location scout for perfect casting spots. While golfishing is frowned upon mid-round, when the course is not in use in the evening, anglers can catch-and-release to their heart’s delight. Feeding the fish is encouraged all day and the snack area under the Pro Shop will even provide you a bag of pellets, though trout will also fight their finned friends for bits of bread.

GROVE PARK INN

A rolling 6,720 yard, par-70 grand old dame, GPI which has hosted 10 presidents from Taft to Obama dates back to the turn of the 20th century. In 1926, fairway sculptor extraordinaire Donald Ross, one of the OG’s in the golf course architecture game, came in and gave it a complete makeover.

Plaques along the course tell the tale of this vaunted track. “His greens contain subtle contours to bedevil the player,” forewarns a snippet culled from Golf, As It Was Meant To Be Played on the first hole. A fortuitous chip shot left me an easy tap in but those words certainly did prove hauntingly accurate as my round progressed. I encountered a flurry of putting surfaces that proved more treacherous than meets the eye. Perhaps Ross took some design cues from the curvy red clay roof that tops the Inn.

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