(Editor’s note: This is one of several 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 had a long-standing relationship with Stanly County, from the sport’s inception to its most recent versions.
From the days of the Stanly County Country Club and Mountain Brook Golf Course to the current courses and forms, golf has boomed in recent years.
From traditional golf courses like Piney Point and Red Bridge to public (Fox Chase) and private disc golf courses (Hardaway Point), the sport continues to thrive.
Developed on the links in Scotland, the sport is still played today on the courses at Piney Point and Red Bridge.
Piney Point Golf Club, 48688 Piney Point Road, Norwood, offers the traditional golf experience with many new features.
The course was built in 1964 as part of a government grant program that allowed cities with populations of 2,500 or fewer to convert farmland into recreational areas. Local leaders, including Kermit L. Young and Robert L. Isenhour, helped lead a group to secure membership and the credit needed to develop the club.
Charlotte’s J. Porter Gibson designed the Piney Point Course on 165 acres of land for 375 charter members. The club had a swimming pool.
“Basically, (Piney Point) created fun activities for people in the community at a reasonable price, and I think we’ve been trying to do that ever since,” said head golf pro Dave VanDeventer.
Today the greens have been updated twice and are considered one of the club’s best features on the golf side. Last updated in 2016, the hybrid turf Bermuda greens provide a quality surface to play all year round.
VanDeventer, who will celebrate his 40th anniversary at Piney Point next year, said the golf course is player-friendly.
“You can hit and find it for the most part, and golfers like that,” said VanDeventer. “Players can spray (the ball) from one fairway to another and still find it.”
The Piney Point pro also said most golfers can hit the driver on more holes at the Norwood course than others in the area.
The club’s membership is around 280 but the semi-private course attracts 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 against teams from other area golf courses during the summer months.
The Piney Point Clubhouse features a hot grill snack bar and a well-stocked pro shop.
Red Bridge Golf Club is the newest of the county’s golf courses and offers golfers of all levels a real golf challenge.
The property at 6801 Gatehouse Road in Locust straddles the Stanly and Cabarrus county lines. It is just 25 minutes from downtown Charlotte via the 4 lane NC Highway 24-27.
With a length of more than 6,700 yards ending with an 18th hole playing 639 yards from the black tees, Red Bridge offers golfers a scenic experience and the challenge of hitting high and making it fly.
The course was designed in 2009 by David Postlethwait, a protégé of famed designer Pete Dye.
Red Bridge general manager Mark Davis said the course isn’t nearly as long as many modern championship courses.
“It’s a good test for golf,” he said. “I would certainly rate it as a more difficult golf course than most.”
Some of the holes, Davis said, must be placed off the tee, allowing the course to be played longer than its actual length.
According to Davis, the course has a unique topography and a lot of elevation changes, 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 semi-private plaza’s location has benefited from the four-lane road to Charlotte, Davis said. The course attracts 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 the Stanly County Country Club no longer in operation, a new sport of disc golf has emerged in recent years.
The original and perhaps most physically demanding of the courses at Stanly is Fox Chase.
Located in Chuck Morehead Park and operated by the City of Albemarle Parks and Recreation Department, the 18-hole, championship-level golf course requires golfers to negotiate a variety of elevation changes.
The site of many high school cross-country championships, the hike/run course, which winds through the woods of Morehead Park, tests the fitness of golfers and runners alike.
An annual event, the Ice Bowl, has challenged disc golfers to play in cold conditions for 13 years. The two-round, one-day PDGA-sanctioned event featured golfers ranging from amateur to professional levels of competition.
Fox Chase is ranked among the most challenging golf courses in the state and beyond by several disc golf websites.
Other public spaces at Albemarle’s City Lake Park, Richfield Town Park and Oakboro District Park also offer different challenges for disc golfers.
Also the newest disc golf course is a rarity in the world of growing sport: a private course.
Hardaway Point Golf Course was built on part of the former Stanly County Country 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 uses the fairways and hills of the former course to challenge golfers for $5 a round.
Hardaway Point is open seven days a week but also offers a bar and grill for golfers open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Future plans for the course include a series of tournaments and the addition of a game room with a pool table, air hockey, video games and more.