By Shane Sharp
The numbers are in.
Golf rounds played in across the U.S. were up again, year-over-year, in September and October, continuing a mercurial rise that began in May once courses around the country reopened amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
A few months ago, it was easy to attribute golf’s gain to other activities still being shuttered, particularly youth sports, live events and movie theaters.
But with many cities and states and fully reopened, it’s clear the sport’s growth is also due to other factors. New golfers are sticking with it, experienced golfers are playing more, and the weather throughout most the country has been abnormally warm this fall.
Especially in the Carolinas, where high temps have been in the 70s this fall.
In December, golfers can expect highs in the 50s the Piedmont of North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina, and 60s in along the South Carolina coast. From the mountains to the Sandhills, here is a triumvirate of holiday shoulder season packages from around the Old North and Palmetto States.
Donald Ross Package “Evergreen” Rates at Pinehurst Resort
The holiday season is an underrated time to visit the North Carolina Sandhills and Pinehurst Resort. The USGA’s new future second home is the setting of its famed No. 2 Course, recently minted as a U.S. Open “Anchor Site” starting with the 2024 edition.
From a golf consumer standpoint, November through February presents an extended, value-laden period (potential frost delays notwithstanding). Rates on golf packages like the ever-popular Donald Ross drop more than 50% through the winter.
You can book a two-night stay in The Carolina, three rounds of golf on any of the resort’s nine golf courses and enjoy Pinehurst’s famous Southern breakfast and a three-course dinner each night starting at $713 in as of Nov. 29. There’s a surcharge for playing No. 2, but if you’re on a budget and want to stick to the package as is, you can still enjoy premium tracks like No. 4, No. 8 and No. 9.
As for what to pack, December and January highs are usually in the 50s and February is back into the 60s. There can be big swings in highs and lows, so be sure to check the weather before packing.
For more information, visit www.pinehurst.com
Cherokee Valley Course and Club Cottage Packages
For traveling golfers, or local groups in search of a golf vacation near the burgeoning small city of Greenville, S.C., Cherokee Valley Course and Club is the Upstate region’s premier golf destination. Its collection of on-site cottages feature four master suites with one or two beds in each, five full bathrooms, great room and wrap-around porches.
They are conveniently located just a few steps from the golf shop and first tee. Full cottage rentals start at $400 and single rooms at $130, per night (tax not included). Golf can be added for $30 or $50 all-day subject to availability.
Ideally located 30 minutes north of award-winning downtown Greenville and 45 minutes from the craft beer capital of Asheville, N.C. Cherokee Valley is the perfect basecamp for exploring the beauty and adventure of the western Carolinas.
Or guests and park the car and stay on campus if they’d prefer. Cherokee Valley’s full-service restaurant, CORE 450, is opening in December. Led by Executive Chef Todd Warden, it features a contemporary, engaging and casual theme with a diverse menu ranging from small plates and pizza to five course meals.
For more information, visit www.cherokeevalleyclub.com
Rumbling Bald Resort Golf Packages
Rumbling Bald, the 36-hole golf resort on North Carolina’s stunning Lake Lure, offers golf packages customized for golf groups of any size, and ideal for weekend or weekday buddy trips.
Starting at $345 per person, resort’s “Hole-in-One” package features a two-night stay, two rounds of golf on the Apple Valley and Bald Mountain courses, breakfast both days and complimentary, unlimited range balls. Lodging options include the recently updated Apple Valley Studios and two- and four-bedroom Fairway Villas.
Paying homage to the rescheduled 2021 Ryder Cup at Destination Kohler’s famed Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, Rumbling Bald is offering a limited availability “Ryder Cup Package.” The resort’s expert golf vacation planners will design an exciting, Ryder Cup team formatted event for golf groups in search of an unforgettable experience.
The Ryder Cup Package starts at $589 per person and includes: three nights lodging; three rounds of golf scored and handicapped; complimentary replays on either course; a team shirt and resort hat; private, one-hour opening reception with wine, beer and hors d’oeuvres, and unlimited use of the practice facilities.
For more information, visit www.rumblingbald.com