Hound Ears Golf Club

By Douglas Scarboro, Contributor

BOONE, NC - With so many different kinds and groups of people in society, it is no wonder that certain groups gather together and share their passions. These groups are unique in that they are only comprised of individuals who are adamant about participating in their chosen interests. Avid golfers are included in these groups of people that share a passion and certain exuberance for their sport and the culture that surrounds it.

Being consumed with the relentless need and urgency to play golf, these groups will search all available venues for the ultimate day on the golf course. Hound Ears Golf Club and Resort provide a wonderful day of golf and sharing of passions. From the setup of the rooms at the Inn, to the location of the Pro Shop and course restaurant, this location is set up ideally for the pursuit of playing great golf.

The Hound Ears Golf Course is located in the mountains of North Carolina in the city of Banner Elk. Nestled a stone's throw from the Blue Ridge mountain range scenic driving trail, it is beautiful place to play year round. However, the best time to view the true beauty of the area and the course is in the fall time.

The course sits in the valley of Grandfather Mountain next to the Watauga River. It is no surprise to see fresh water fly fishermen intermixed on the course along with golfers. Mountain trout here are just as plentiful and invited as birdies. The two groups are sure to agree that this area is surely a sportsman's paradise.

Often, golf retreats are complete with lavish amenities and the availability to play large amounts of golf. Either they also have a course that is either too difficult for the average player or too easy for the scratch golfer. It is obvious that when George Cobb designed this course, it was done with varied golf games in mind. Peter Rucker, Hound Ears' Golf Professional, will tell you that the course is wide enough to hold errant shots but also with tee box and green placements that will challenge your game.

Although you may be able to keep your ball in the fairway off the tee, you are not guaranteed a good look into the green. George Cobb's ingenious use of the natural terrain is apparent on a majority of the holes.

Local resident Tom Smith says, "I enjoy playing the course on a daily basis. I never tire of the views and the course layout." You are sure to run into several locals while playing the course and they will instruct you on how to navigate some of the course's more intricate inner workings.

The front nine of this course is no cake walk and will surely test you at some point, but it is the redesigned back nine that will have talking about Hound Ears for years to come.

The difficult back nine of the course starts with the par four number twelve that is located on the other side of the road from the front nine holes. From the tee box you have water on the left hand side of a dogleg left fairway. Any shot that goes slightly left off the tee box is sure to land in the water.

To keep you from correcting too far to the right, there is water running along the right side of the fairway as well. The risky move of trying to cross the water on the left and shortcut the fairway will yield great rewards. A good position is needed to approach this green that will yield more three putts and tricky putts than easy tap ins. The green is split into three levels, all of which undulate.

Putting uphill is the best option as a stray downhill putt can easily take you off the green. This green is sure to frustrate one of your foursome. If you get a chance to meet with Hound Ears' local Smith he will tell you that this green will, "instantly add strokes to your handicap."

Hound Ears perennial signature hole is the par three 110 yard number fifteen. Locals call it the post card hole because the setting is beautiful enough to place on the front of the post card. The entrance to the fifteenth hole is a small stone tunnel that is cut into the existing rock and terrain.

The region is very moist and the foliage takes a green that can only be found in nature. The tee box of this hole looks out onto a green that is about 100 feet below you. This is sure to be an unforgettable experience, even for those that are not afraid of heights. The front portion of the elongated green is protected by a creek and there are trees and shrubbery everywhere else.

Your only concern on this hole is distance. Any shot short or long is sure to be either lost or wet. The trip down the hill to the green should be taken with as much caution as your tee shot. A steep winding cart path ensures that you will keep your foot covering the brake and your fingers crossed.

A strong finishing hole is always the sign of a course that is either trying to make up for the proceeding lackluster seventeen holes or is the icing on the cake of a well thought out challenging course. Hound Ears is definitely the latter. Eighteen starts out with a tee box that is nothing short of outstanding. The set of the shortest three box of this hole are set looking into a long par four.

The gold tee box on number eighteen is set atop stone and earth build up that measures about ten feet. Golfers who tee off from the heighten vantage point are able to get a bird's eye view of the fairway and the advantage of extra distance off the tee. With no entrance to the grassy knoll other than a set of stone stairs, you will wonder how they go about cutting the grass atop this peculiar tee box.

After teeing off, the fairway is bordered on the side by a stream running along the right hand side. If you are able to stay long and left, you will have a good look into the green. The green is at the end of a slight dogleg right that is protected by a large tree on the right hand side of the fairway. The placement of your approach shot is optimal as this is one of the larger greens on the course.

The Hounds Ears Golf Club is a definite must for golfers who are zealots for the game. With accommodations and practice areas set up to cater to foursomes this is a destination that will be appreciated by those who enjoy the game of golf.

Douglas Scarboro, Contributor

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