Bayonet at Puppy Creek: Tradition at an Affordable Price

By Sonny Jones, Contributor

RAEFORD, NC -- Bayonet at Puppy Creek is a golf lover's dream. It's an intriguing Willard Byrd layout in excellent condition at an affordable price.

There's no true clubhouse, no locker rooms and, admittedly, Bayonet is a bit off the beaten path. But you'll find few complaints from members or guests who combine to play more than 30,000 rounds per year.

"It's a very traditional golf course," Bayonet general manager Mike Wood said. "It's a very fair golf course. The quality of the golf course is equal to those in the Southern Pines area with better rates."

Rates, which are adjusted seasonally, are no more than $50 at any time during the year. Spring is the busiest time and pace of play can be a problem during that period. Bayonet hosts a Hooters Tour event each July.

Bayonet opened in 1995. It was the brainchild of Joe Poole, who owns and operates Carolina Turf Co. His goal was to build a quality course without the extravagance of an expensive country club, nor a grand clubhouse.

Byrd has been in course architecture for more than 40 years. His work includes Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst, McGregor Downs in Cary, Gates Four in Fayetteville, and upwards of a dozen courses in the Myrtle Beach area. He was pleased with the way the course turned out.

"The Bayonet at Puppy Creek will endure the test of time because the 18 holes were designed under a basic, traditional concept with all the holes completely different, making it a course you never tire of playing," Byrd said. "Also, the golfer will not forget the natural beauty of Puppy Creek."

Bayonet offers five sets of tees ranging from 7,036 yards to 4,453. Par is 72. There are about 60 bunkers and water comes into play on only a few holes. The bentgrass greens are firm, but not severely undulating. Fairways are generally wide.

The course starts with a par-5 dog leg right. A good tee shot is necessary in order to carry the stream on the second shot. From there, the rolling hills surrounding Puppy Creek offer a variety of challenges.

While the toughest-rated hole from the tips is No. 8, an almost unthinkable 474-yard par-4, the average golfer playing from the blue or white tees will most likely find the par 3s to be the most challenging and interesting. A three-tiered green awaits at No. 3, an uphill tee shot to a small green guarded in front by a bunker lurks at No. 9, a downhill tee shot with a front bunker awaits at No. 14, and a two-tiered green presents problems at No. 16.

That's not to say No. 8 won't present problems regardless of which tee you play from. Your approach shot will most likely be on a downhill lie to a green that's protected in front by a pond.

The finishing hole is a par 5 dogleg right that plays 517 yards from the tips. And don't feel good just because your drive cleared the bunker on the right in an effort to cut the corner. It's not fairway directly beyond the bunker.

Bayonet features a top-notch practice facility. "We have the best practice facility around," Wood said. There's nearly 20 acres devoted to a driving range, putting green, and bunker area. It's an ideal place to fine tune all facets of your game. The course has yet to build a full-fledged clubhouse. There's a pro shop with the standard fare offered. There are no locker rooms. There is a covered picnic area.

Course Information

Rates: Summer/fall: $44 Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, $38 Fridays, $34 Monday through Thursday. Spring: $50 Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, $45 Fridays, $40 Monday through Thursday. Discounts are offered after 1 p.m. Walking allowed throughout the day Monday through Friday and after 1 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

Rating: 74.0 from men's tips and 71.0 from ladies tips.

Directions: Bayonet is located at 349 South Parker Church Road in Raeford. It's about 5 miles from Raeford, 15 miles from Fayetteville and less than 50 miles from Pinehurst.

To get there from I-95, take Exit 46 to NC 87 toward Fayetteville. Follow the signs to 401 South. Take 401 South to Hoke County. Turn left on Johnson Mill Road. It's about 25 miles from the I-95 exit.


Conditions: B+
Layout: A
Service: A
Practice Facility: A
Club House/Pro Shop: C
Pace of Play: B+
Value: A
Overall Rating: B+

Sonny Jones, Contributor

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