Skybrook Golf Club: Golf in the "Mountains" of Charlotte

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

Skybrook Golf ClubHUNTERSVILLE, NC - Chances are, you will be in Charlotte on business before you will be in the Queen City with the sole purpose of playing golf.

But since when have business and golf not gone hand-in-hand? Fortunately, the second largest financial center in the U.S., and one of the most beautiful cities east of the Mississippi has a preponderance of high-end daily fee courses at your disposal.

And it things jut got better.

Skybrook Golf Club opened just north of Charlotte this past July, adding yet another quality "semi-private" golf facility to Charlotte's arsenal. According to head professional Rodger Ross, Skybrook was not shy about announcing its arrival.

"There are so many courses in this area, so you need to tell people you are here", says Ross about his courses aggressive marketing campaign, which utilized a number of billboards and commercials. "But we have really backed off and now we are relying on word of mouth. And it is working."

What is appealing to Charlotte are golfers, and should appeal to the avid golfer visiting on business, is the unique piece of property on which the course was built. Skybrook bills itself as being located in the mountains of Charlotte. And through a little slight of hand, the course actually backs its claim.

If you are at all familiar with the geography of the North Carolina, you know that the highest points in most Piedmont towns are either the church steeples, or BBQ billboards.

But somehow, Sky brook's developers, Legacy Golf Management, found some hills - big ones at that - just to the northeast of the city. Legacy then hired prominent Carolina course designer John LaFoy (Crescent Club, The Neuse, Devil's Ridge) to route a clever, yet player friendly golf course through the peaks and valleys of the property.

"We could blindfold someone and take them here and they would think they are in the mountains", says Ross.

Ross is quick to point out that the elevation changes aren't the only thing that should appeal to golfers.

"The homes are set back off the fairways, and there is no out of bounds", adds Ross. "What really identifies this course is the size of the greens. They average 75 square feet, which puts a premium on the second shot".

The flavor of the golf course is established right from the first hole with a 419-yard par 4 that comes complete with elevated tee box, spectacular view, and behemoth green.

The rest of the front nine ranges from interesting to fascinating, including the 433-yard No. 6 hole that may evoke as many nose bleeds as it does rave reviews with the elevation of its tee box. For straight hitters, all these elevated tees could lead to a low number. For errant drivers, it could spell disaster.

But much like he did at the Crescent Club up the road in Salisbury, LaFoy has contoured many of the fairways to feed tee shots back down into the short stuff. Mix in a few uphill approach shots like you will find on the 393-yard fourth hole.

Skybrook Golf ClubThen toss in a bevy of interesting par - 3's and 5's like you will find in the 16th and 18th holes, respectively, and you have yourself a playable, yet challenging golf course.

"Off the tee box, this course can be forgiving because the holes slope back towards the fairways", says Ross. "The uniqueness of the course and playability is what sets it apart. It is difficult, but not brutal. If you miss a shot, you won't be looking for your ball forever".

However, Skybrook is not as easy a course to figure out and play as Ross makes it out to be. La Foy has a tendency to place bunkers between 80 and 100 yards in front of greens, giving the appearance that they are greenside traps, when in reality they are a solid sand wedge shot away.

Also, many of the Herculean drives that are afforded by the elevated tee boxes are balanced out by uphill approach shots and undulating greens. Despite the variety of holes, Ross says that LaFoy remains perplexed as to which is his favorite.

Skybrook Golf ClubJohn said, "I have no favorite hole because there is not a bad hole on this course", Ross says. "And I would have to agree. The par-3's are all of different lengths, most the par-5's are not reachable in two, and the par-4's are spectacular".

If for some reason, you fall in love with Charlotte on your business (turned golf) trip, Skybrook offers a number of membership options. If, like most other visitors, you have to return home, a round of golf at Skybrook will run you about $45 during the weekdays, and $50 on the weekends. If you are traveling to the Queen City in the winter months (November thru March) you can get out for a few dollars less.

Where to Stay

If you are in town on business, you may not have a choice. But if you do, bedding down in one of the chain hotels at I-85 exit 49 is not a bad idea. From there, Skybrook is about a 15-minute drive, downtown is about 10 minutes away, and there are plenty of restaurants to choose from (although not many original ones.)

On the Flip Side

If you do stay at exit 49 and have another afternoon to spare, get a tee time at the Rocky River Golf Club (704.455.1280) - a Dan Maples designed course that is one of the best in the Charlotte area.

Directions

From Exit 49, take I-85 south to Exit 46 (Mallard Creek) and turn left. Mallard Creek Road becomes Prosperity Church Road. Proceed on Prosperity Church Road until it ends. Turn right on Eastfield road and proceed 1.5 miles. Entrance to Skybrook is on the left.

TravelGolf.com Rating System

A - Tour Style - bring your camera
B - Solid Birdie Effort
C - Par---rty Time
D - Three Jack
F - Double Bogey

SCORECARD

Conditions: A
Layout: A+
Service: B
Practice Fac.: A
Club House/Pro Shop: C (temp)
Pace of Play: C
Value: A
Overall Rating: A-/B+

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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