5 Best Public Golf Courses In North Carolina

North Carolina boasts some of the finest public golf courses in the country, perfect for both casual and serious golfers.

Among the best are Pinehurst No. 2, Linville Golf Club, Duke University Golf Club, UNC Finley Golf Club, and The Omni Grove Park Inn.

Keep reading for a more detailed explanation of each course and what makes them stand out.

Pinehurst No. 2

Nestled in the heart of Pinehurst, North Carolina, Pinehurst No. 2 stands as one of the most prestigious and historic golf courses in the United States.

Known for its rich history and challenging design, this course has hosted numerous major championships and continues to be a favorite among golfers worldwide.

Location and Overview

Pinehurst, NC, is a charming village with a deep connection to golf. Established in 1895, it quickly became a premier destination for golf enthusiasts.

Pinehurst No. 2, the crown jewel of the village's golf courses, was designed by the legendary Donald Ross and opened in 1907.

This course is renowned for its strategic design and has been the site of multiple U.S. Open Championships, making it a significant landmark in the golfing world.

Designer: Donald Ross

Donald Ross, a Scottish golf course designer, is celebrated for his work on Pinehurst No. 2. Ross's design philosophy centered around creating courses that challenge every level of golfer while remaining fair and enjoyable.

At Pinehurst No. 2, Ross's genius is evident in the course’s layout.

The undulating greens and natural terrain are integral to its challenge, requiring players to think strategically about every shot.

The course's sandy soil and native wiregrass further add to its unique character, embodying Ross’s vision of integrating the natural landscape into the game.

Course Highlights

Pinehurst No. 2 is famous for its challenging layout.

The course features wide fairways that demand precision due to their strategic bunkering and crowned greens.

These greens are among the most complex in the golfing world, with subtle breaks and slopes that test even the best players.

The course has hosted several U.S. Open Championships, most recently in 2014.

These events have cemented Pinehurst No. 2's reputation as a true test of golfing skill, where precision and patience are crucial.

One of the course's standout features is its strategic bunkering.

The bunkers are not just obstacles but are placed to force thoughtful shot-making.

The greens, meticulously maintained, are known for their speed and undulation, adding an extra layer of difficulty.

Player Experience

Golfers who have played Pinehurst No. 2 often speak of it with reverence.

Many note the course's ability to challenge without feeling unfair.

Testimonials frequently highlight the immaculate condition of the greens and the historical ambiance that adds to the overall experience.

For first-time players, it’s important to remember a few key tips:

  • Approach the greens with caution; their slopes can be deceptive.
  • Take advantage of the course’s practice facilities to get a feel for the green speeds.
  • Playing with a caddie can enhance your experience, providing valuable local knowledge and helping navigate the course's nuances.

Booking and Fees

Booking a tee time at Pinehurst No. 2 is straightforward but should be done well in advance, especially during peak seasons.

You can reserve a spot through the Pinehurst Resort’s website or by calling their reservation line.

The cost of playing at Pinehurst No. 2 can vary depending on the time of year and the day of the week.

Generally, fees range from $300 to $500, reflecting the premium nature of the course.

Additionally, there are various packages available that include accommodations and multiple rounds of golf, offering a more comprehensive experience for those looking to immerse themselves in the Pinehurst legacy.

Linville Golf Club

Tucked away in the picturesque mountains of North Carolina, Linville Golf Club offers a unique and historic golfing experience.

This classic course is not only a testament to timeless design but also a haven for those seeking a luxurious and serene golf outing.

Location and Overview

Linville, NC, is a quaint town known for its stunning natural beauty and charming atmosphere.

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it provides a perfect setting for a golf course.

Linville Golf Club, established in 1924, is one of the oldest and most revered golf courses in the region.

Its rich history and connection to the surrounding landscape make it a must-visit destination for golf enthusiasts.

Designer: Donald Ross

The legendary Donald Ross designed Linville Golf Club, and his influence is evident throughout the course.

Ross, known for his ability to harmonize course designs with natural landscapes, brought his vision to life in Linville.

The course features many of Ross's trademark elements, such as strategically placed bunkers, undulating greens, and a layout that challenges golfers of all skill levels.

His design ensures that the course remains engaging and enjoyable, reflecting his philosophy of making every round of golf a memorable experience.

Course Highlights

Linville Golf Club is renowned for its tight fairways and narrow greens, which require precise shot-making and strategic play.

The fairways wind through dense forests, demanding accuracy off the tee.

The greens are small and well-protected by bunkers, adding to the challenge.

One of the most striking features of Linville Golf Club is its breathtaking mountain backdrop.

The course is set against the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains, offering panoramic views that enhance the overall golfing experience.

Natural features such as a snaking creek and mature trees further add to the course's beauty and difficulty.

Player Experience

Golfers who have played at Linville Golf Club often rave about the course’s challenging layout and scenic beauty.

Many highlight the well-maintained conditions and the course's ability to test every aspect of their game.

The tight fairways and small greens demand precision, making every hole a unique challenge.

When playing at Linville Golf Club, golfers can expect:

  • A demanding but fair test of golf
  • Impeccably maintained greens and fairways
  • Stunning views that make each round memorable

First-time players should focus on accuracy rather than distance, especially given the narrow fairways.

Taking time to appreciate the natural beauty can also enhance the experience, making each round as enjoyable as it is challenging.

Accommodation: Eseeola Lodge

For those looking to extend their stay, the luxurious Eseeola Lodge is an excellent choice.

Located adjacent to the golf course, the lodge offers a blend of historic charm and modern comfort.

Staying at Eseeola Lodge provides several benefits for golfers:

  • Convenience: Easy access to the golf course, allowing for multiple rounds during your stay.
  • Amenities: The lodge offers upscale accommodations, fine dining, and a range of recreational activities.
  • Packages: Exclusive golf packages that include rounds at Linville Golf Club and other nearby courses.

Eseeola Lodge enhances the overall golfing experience, making it a perfect retreat for those seeking both relaxation and adventure.

Duke University Golf Club

Situated in the vibrant city of Durham, North Carolina, Duke University Golf Club offers a premier golfing experience steeped in both academic and athletic excellence.

As part of Duke University, this course combines a rich tradition with a modern golfing challenge.

Location and Overview

Durham, NC, is known for its dynamic blend of culture, academia, and innovation.

Duke University Golf Club, nestled within this bustling city, serves as an extension of Duke University’s prestigious reputation.

The golf club not only provides a top-notch golfing experience but also contributes to the university’s athletic programs, offering students, faculty, and the public an exceptional place to play.

Designer: Robert Trent Jones Sr.

The original design of Duke University Golf Club is the work of renowned golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., a master at creating challenging and beautiful golf courses.

His design philosophy focused on making courses that are both playable and strategic, demanding thoughtful shot-making.

In recent years, the course underwent a significant renovation by Rees Jones, the son of the original designer.

Rees Jones, known as the “Open Doctor” for his work on U.S. Open courses, revitalized Duke University Golf Club while preserving the integrity of his father’s design.

His enhancements have modernized the course, making it more challenging and visually appealing, ensuring it meets contemporary standards of play.

Course Highlights

Duke University Golf Club is characterized by its rolling terrain and significant elevation changes.

The course winds through towering pines and hardwoods, creating a serene yet challenging environment.

Each hole presents its own set of challenges, requiring precision and strategic thinking.

Notable holes include the par-5 12th, which offers a demanding uphill approach, and the par-3 16th, known for its picturesque setting and tricky green.

The layout provides a variety of shot-making opportunities, from long drives to delicate short-game shots, ensuring a well-rounded golfing experience.

Player Experience

Golfers who have played at Duke University Golf Club often praise its immaculate conditions and challenging design.

The course is well-maintained, with fast greens and lush fairways that provide a true test of golfing skill.

Feedback from players highlights the importance of managing the course’s elevation changes and navigating its strategically placed hazards.

Golfers suggest focusing on accuracy rather than distance and taking time to study the greens before putting.

For those new to the course, here are some tips:

  • Elevation Changes: Be mindful of the significant elevation changes, which can affect club selection and shot strategy.
  • Greens: The greens are known for their speed and undulation. Spend extra time on the practice green to get a feel for the conditions.
  • Course Management: Play strategically, aiming for fairway positions that provide the best angles to the greens.

Booking and Fees

Booking a tee time at Duke University Golf Club is a straightforward process.

Reservations can be made online through the club’s website or by calling the pro shop.

It’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, to secure a preferred time.

The fee structure varies depending on the day of the week and time of year.

Generally, green fees range from $75 to $150, with discounts available for Duke University students, faculty, and alumni.

The club also offers several packages, including stay-and-play options that combine accommodations with rounds of golf, providing a comprehensive golfing experience.

UNC Finley Golf Club

Located in the heart of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, UNC Finley Golf Club is a distinguished course that offers a balanced blend of challenge and playability, making it a favorite among golfers of all skill levels.

Location and Overview

Chapel Hill, NC, is renowned for its vibrant college town atmosphere, home to the University of North Carolina.

UNC Finley Golf Club, established in 1949, holds a special place in the community, serving as the home course for the university's golf teams.

The course has undergone significant transformations over the years, enhancing its reputation as one of the top public golf courses in the region.

Designer: Tom Fazio

Originally designed by George Cobb, UNC Finley Golf Club received a major redesign from Tom Fazio in 1999.

Fazio, a prominent golf course architect, is known for his ability to craft courses that are both beautiful and challenging.

His redesign of UNC Finley incorporated modern elements while preserving the course’s original charm.

Fazio's unique touch is evident in the course’s layout, which features wide fairways, strategic bunkering, and large, undulating greens.

These elements not only add to the aesthetic appeal but also provide a fair test for golfers, requiring both skill and strategy to navigate successfully.

Course Highlights

UNC Finley Golf Club is celebrated for its playability.

The course is designed to accommodate golfers of all skill levels, offering a layout that is both forgiving and challenging.

Wide fairways provide ample room off the tee, while the strategic placement of bunkers and water hazards demand precise shot-making.

One of the standout features of the course is its greens.

Fazio's redesign includes large greens with subtle breaks and contours, making putting a true test of skill.

The course's layout also incorporates natural elements, such as mature trees and gently rolling hills, which enhance the overall playing experience.

Player Experience

Golfers who play at UNC Finley Golf Club often praise the course for its well-maintained conditions and enjoyable layout.

Testimonials highlight the course's ability to cater to different skill levels, making it an ideal choice for both beginners and seasoned players.

To maximize enjoyment at UNC Finley, consider these tips:

  • Approach Shots: Focus on accuracy rather than distance, as the large greens can be tricky to navigate.
  • Course Management: Take advantage of the wide fairways by playing strategically, aiming for the best angles to approach the greens.
  • Practice Facilities: Utilize the course’s excellent practice facilities to warm up before your round, especially to get a feel for the green speeds.

Booking and Fees

Booking a tee time at UNC Finley Golf Club is easy and convenient.

Reservations can be made online through the club's website or by calling the pro shop.

It’s recommended to book in advance, particularly during peak times, to ensure availability.

The cost of playing at UNC Finley varies, with green fees typically ranging from $50 to $100 depending on the day of the week and time of year.

The club offers discounts for UNC students, faculty, and alumni, as well as various membership options for frequent players.

The Omni Grove Park Inn

The Omni Grove Park Inn, located in Asheville, North Carolina, offers a golfing experience steeped in history and surrounded by the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

This course is a blend of classic design and modern amenities, making it a must-play for golfers visiting the region.

Location and Overview

Asheville, NC, is a vibrant city known for its arts scene, historic architecture, and stunning mountain views.

The Omni Grove Park Inn, established in 1913, is one of the city's most iconic landmarks.

This historic resort has hosted numerous famous guests over the years and continues to be a premier destination for relaxation and recreation.

The golf course, part of the resort, enhances its appeal with its challenging play and breathtaking scenery.

Designer: Donald Ross

The golf course at The Omni Grove Park Inn was designed by the legendary Donald Ross.

Ross, famous for his meticulous and thoughtful approach to course design, created a layout that seamlessly integrates with the natural landscape.

His contributions to the course include strategic bunkering, contoured greens, and a routing that takes full advantage of the site's elevation changes.

Ross's design philosophy emphasizes playability and challenge, ensuring that golfers of all skill levels can enjoy the course while being tested by its nuances.

Course Highlights

One of the most remarkable aspects of The Omni Grove Park Inn golf course is its stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Each hole offers a different perspective of the surrounding landscape, providing a visually captivating experience.

The course is characterized by its rolling fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and undulating greens that demand precise shot-making.

The layout includes several notable holes, such as the par-3 17th, which features a downhill shot with panoramic mountain views, and the par-5 10th, a challenging hole that requires careful navigation of its hazards.

The course's design not only tests a golfer's skill but also offers moments of tranquility and beauty, making each round memorable.

Player Experience

Golfers who have played at The Omni Grove Park Inn often highlight the course's impeccable conditions and the historic charm that permeates each hole.

Reviews frequently mention the friendly and professional staff, who enhance the overall experience by providing excellent service and insights into the course's history.

To make the most of your round at The Omni Grove Park Inn, consider the following tips:

  • Appreciate the Scenery: Take time to enjoy the views and the natural beauty of the course. The setting is as much a part of the experience as the golf itself.
  • Course Strategy: Pay attention to the elevation changes and the positioning of hazards. Playing strategically will help you navigate the course more effectively.
  • Historical Context: Embrace the historic elements of the course, which add depth to the golfing experience. Knowing a bit about Donald Ross and the resort's history can enhance your appreciation of the layout.

Booking and Fees

Booking a tee time at The Omni Grove Park Inn is straightforward and can be done online through the resort’s website or by contacting the pro shop directly.

It’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, to secure your preferred time.

The fee structure at The Omni Grove Park Inn varies based on the season and the day of the week.

Green fees generally range from $150 to $200, reflecting the premium nature of the course and its amenities.

The resort also offers various packages that include accommodations, meals, and rounds of golf, providing a comprehensive and luxurious golfing experience.


Playing at North Carolina's top public golf courses offers an unforgettable blend of challenge, beauty, and history.

From the iconic Pinehurst No. 2 to the scenic Omni Grove Park Inn, each course provides a unique experience for golfers of all skill levels.

Whether you're a local or a visitor, these courses promise a memorable golfing adventure in the heart of North Carolina.