GolfLink City Guides: Tee Off in Charlotte

By Ryan Watson

Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city and one of the fastest growing urban areas in America, has become a destination for golfers on the East Coast. There are numerous things to see and courses to play in the area for fans.

Things to Do

Charlotte is full of activities for visitors. For the adventurous, the U.S. National Whitewater Center offers the largest man-made whitewater river in the world. You can also try your hand at many activities including kayaking, white water rafting, rock climbing, paddle boarding or mountain biking. History buffs will enjoy the area's museums such as the Levine Museum of the New South or The Charlotte Museum of History. Folks can also experience the dark history of plantation life in the antebellum South at the Historic Latta Plantation or the Historic Rosedale Plantation.

When hunger hits, be sure and try some Charlotte favorites. And there's really no place to start but North Carolina-style barbecue. There are many options, and some favorites include Bill Spoon’s Barbecue, Midwood Smokehouse, Bar-B-Q King and City Smoke. Or have traditional Southern fare at Price’s Chicken Coop or Mert’s Heart and Soul. Wash all that goodness down with a local beer from The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Lenny Boy Brewing or NoDa Brewing Company.

Courses to Play

Charlotte is home to some of the best golf courses in the South. The mild climate allows for year round golf and the city features numerous public options for visiting golfers. The following is a list of the best courses in Charlotte you can play during your visit.

Harry L. Jones, Sr. Golf Course

1525 W. Tyvola Dr.
Charlotte, NC 28217
(704) 357-3373

The Harry L. Jones, Sr. Golf Course at Renaissance Park is one of five county courses run by Ratcliffe Golf Services. The course, formerly known as the Renaissance Park Golf Course, was designed by Michael Hurdzan and is a favorite affordable option for local golfers. The course flows with the natural landscape, including elevated tees and greens. The back 9 plays a bit like a mountain course, complete with streams winding through the verdant layout. The course does include numerous blind shots, but plays easily enough that high-handicappers can still enjoy their round.

Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation

7500 Olde Sycamore Dr.
Charlotte, NC 28227
(704) 573-1000

The Olde Sycamore is a Tom Jackson designed course that requires strategy in order to conquer the 18 holes. The course snakes through the idyllic countryside with numerous creeks and streams coming into play on the course. This course is one where golfers can expect to use every club in the bag, and is also a course where a long drive doesn’t necessarily give you an advantage. Accuracy over power is what visitors need in order to keep their score low. Known for its inventive par 5s and incredibly fast greens, golfers must bring their best to Olde Sycamore.

Larkhaven Golf Club

4801 Camp Stewart Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28215
(704) 545-4653

Larkhaven Golf Course is the oldest public golf course in Charlotte, and the course retains much of the old school charm you’d expect from a course built in 1958 that has experienced limited alterations. This family-run course has elevation changes, narrow fairways and features natural water hazards on 9 different holes. Larkhaven is one of the most affordable games in town, and remains a favorite of locals. A standout hole is the par-3 9th hole that includes a tee shot forcing golfers to hit over water and drop the ball 100 feet onto the green. Beware, conditions can be less than pristine, especially in the hot summer months or after heavy rains.

Birkdale Golf Club

16500 Birkdale Commons Pkwy.
Huntersville, NC 28078
(704) 895-8038

Birkdale Golf Club can boast the Arnold Palmer designed Championship golf course on the rolling terrain common to North Carolina. It features water heavily, as well as elevation changes, and like many Arnold Palmer courses will provide a stern test for any golfer. Examples include the 569 yard par-5 5th hole that includes a forced carry over water on your third shot. The course has been under new management since 2014 and has been kept up to the high standard that the course deserves.

Golf Club at Ballantyne

10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy.
Charlotte, NC 28277
(704) 248-4383

The Golf Club at Ballantyne provides a luxury resort treatment in Charlotte with a pristine course and wonderful amenities. One of the few public PGA quality courses in the region, it is much more costly than many of the other courses on this list. However, golfers will appreciate the challenging layout over the hilly terrain with numerous risk/reward scenarios. The course also invites golfers to open up and drive, especially on the course’s par-5s, but also challenges your putting game with fast and deceptive greens. This course is a must play for golfers spending time in Charlotte.

About the Author

Ryan Watson is a freelance sportswriter and history professor. He has been an avid fan of golf since his father signed him up for golf camp as a young child. Ryan enjoys following the professional game and learning about new equipment and gadgets.