March 24, 2014. Building on a tradition of success as western North Carolina’s epitome of mountain living, Hound Ears Club continues to enchant visitors and residents alike after 50 years. Hound Ears will celebrate its Golden Anniversary in 2014 with a variety of events that truly express the Club’s unique position as one of the region’s most celebrated “escapes” from the hectic pace of modern life. Envisioned in 1964 as a refuge for those seeking a gentle, yet playful, lifestyle, Hound Ears Club will look back at its heritage even as it looks forward to a healthy future as the premier mountain experience.
The 1960s were a time of vast changes for the Boone region. Tourists had begun to discover the delights of cool summers coupled with accessible ski resorts in the winter. Three brothers – Grover, Harry and Spencer Robbins – were no strangers to this trend. The Robbins family had been instrumental in starting such tourism meccas as nearby Tweetsie Railroad and, later, Beech Mountain Ski Resort and Elk River Club in nearby Banner Elk. The brothers believed that a Bavarian style resort that included both a golf course and a ski slope would find a successful niche in the growing High Country tourism industry. They found a tract tucked away on the site of a former mill town, Shulls Mill in southwestern Watauga County, and in January of 1964, Hound Ears Club opened to rave reviews.
As they made plans for a Clubhouse, course and ski lodge, the brothers noticed that rock outcroppings at the top of a nearby mountain perked up like the “ears of a hound.” Hunters in the area had already begun to call the area “Hound Ears Rocks” and the name stuck. Soon, the Club began to take shape. The Robbins brothers employed legendary architect Claus Moberg to design the Bavarian-themed buildings, as well as several houses that are still beloved by owners to this day. They also commissioned course designer George Cobb to design what would become a 6,400-yard course. The Hound Ears course was recently named a “Top 100 Tar Heel” course by Business North Carolina for the sixth consecutive year.
Today, the member-owned Club remains a family-oriented mountain community. Hound Ears is known for its casual elegance and authentic charm and offers dining, golf, tennis, swimming, hiking, and a fitness center, as well as a full calendar of annual social events. With approximately 300 members, Hound Ears Club cultivates a small-town feeling, an echo of a simpler time, while still embracing the latest in amenities and technology.
Since its inception, Hound Ears Club has contributed to the local community in many ways. For example, the Club holds an annual golf tournament to benefit the local hospital system. The tournament has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help purchase needed equipment for the hospital.
“The tremendous support of Hound Ears Club greatly increased our ability to provide specific services such as cardiac care and cancer care for the people of our region,” said Appalachian Regional Healthcare System president Richard Sparks in a recent interview.
To celebrate the milestone, Hound Ears Club will partner with the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum to present a communitywide historical exhibit June 20-September 7. The Club will also invite residents to experience a special Gala event as well as a 50th Anniversary Golf Tournament, followed by a Tour of Claus Moberg Homes.
Perhaps co-founder Spencer Robbins sums up the Hound Ears experience best: “We brought a great community of involved people to our area. [The Club] has created new jobs and boosted the economy … and has contributed significantly to [the local] tax base. I feel good about what we started.”
For more information, visit the Hound Ears Club website at houndears.com.