Charlotte National: No Frills Breeden Course in Southeast Still a Bargain

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

Charlotte NationalCHARLOTTE, NC - Ask a Charlottean to name a few reasons why living in the Queen City beats the heck out of living in Atlanta, and you may be in for one lengthy reply.

Cost of living, congestion, school systems and small town feel are all bound to surface as primary answers. And for the links-minded, the city's abundance of affordable, accessible daily fee golf will almost certainly be running a close second.

Jump on the freeway in Atlanta, and half an hour later you are still surrounded by concrete jungle. In Charlotte, you can get on almost any road, drive for a half and hour and be out in the country amid horse, tobacco or corn farms.

It just so happens that one of these bucolic drives through the southeast part of the city will take you right to Charlotte National Golf Club, GolfCarolina.com's No. 2 rated golfing value in the Charlotte area.

Because it shares part of its name with that decent little tract down the road in Augusta, some players expect Charlotte National to overwhelm them with posh amenities and country club style service.

Instead, they find a doublewide trailer clubhouse, a snack bar, and three or four good ole southern gentlemen that would rather talk golf than put your clubs on your cart.

Don't let the appearance of National's amenities (or lack thereof) fool you. This Russell Breeden design is as basic, fun, and well maintained a course as you'll find around Charlotte, or in the western Piedmont for that matter.

In typical Breeden fashion, you essentially get some tee boxes, closley cropped fairways, flat bunkers, and exceptional bentgrass greens, all which give the appearance of having been simply deposited on the land. There may have been less dirt moved at National than any other course in Charlotte, and the layout is a refrehsing throwback to a time when front end loaders and behemoth construction budgets were few and far between.

Charlotte NationalThe savings that National realizes from its low-key facilities is passed on to golfers. Weekend morning rates hover around the Charlotte daily fee average of $50, but on weekday afternoons, rates range from $22 to $35.

Unlike some of the modern courses constructed over the past ten years, Charlotte National is entirely walkable. Elevation changes are limited to just a few holes, greens are rarely more than 20 to 30 yards from the next tee box, and walking is permitted almost anytime of day on the weekdays and in the afternoon on weekends.

For a course set on a fairly average piece of property, Charlotte National offers players plenty of variety. Some holes, like the 386-yard par 4 starting hole, are wide open and devoid of any trees. Other holes, like the 547-yard par 5-second hole, are lined with Carolina hardwoods and dotted with small water hazards.

The final four holes at Charlotte National are four of the strongest finishing holes in Metrolina. Number 15 is a beautifully designed par-5 that with a small creek that bisects the fairway and comes into play on the second shot. At 587 yards from the tips, and 564 from the middle tees, getting down in two is typically not an option for average hitters.

Charlotte NationalNo. 16 may be one of the toughest one-shoters in town when the wind is howling in your face. The hole measures only 184 yards from the middle tees, but players have been known to pull three woods when the head winds approach 20 plus miles per hour.

At 440 and 469 yards respectively, Holes No. 17 and 18 - both par 4's - play like par 5's for even the lowest of handicappers. No two holes in the area epitomize the idea of "grinding" out the end of your round for a respectable score than these two bears.

Even with all its great routing, Charlotte National's true claim to fame is its greens. Ask any knowledgeable local golfer or head professional who has the best bentgrass putting surfaces in town, and Charlotte National's greens are sure to come up.

On a typical autumn day, stimpmeter readings of 10 or 11 are not uncommon, and you can see the ghastly looks on first time players' faces as their lightly tapped downhill putts run ten feet past the cup.

For the money, it's tough to find a better play around the Charlotte area than Charlotte National. You won't find a single home on any green or fairway, and you'll hardly ever catch yourself cursing the course's design.

A sign on the way to the cart drop says that construction on a new clubhouse facility will begin soon. With a little luck, it will be a doublewide trailer replica. Some things are just better left alone.

Directions

Located south east of downtown Charlotte. Take I-485 towards Mint Hill. Exit on Lawyer's Road and turn south on Lawyer's Road. Proceed through Matthews and turn left at Mill Grove Road. Then turn right at Howey Bottoms Road. Course is about 500 yards down on the left.

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of TravelGolf.com from 1997 to 2003.


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