By Harley Nefe
The Sugar Mountain Public Golf Course was voted as the No. 2 Short Course in the USA by Golf Advisor readers.
Golf Advisor is a publication for golfers at all levels to find honest recommendations from peers and to offer feedback of their own about any golf course they play, anywhere, anytime.
Golf Advisor’s definition of a short course is any course that is less than a par 70 or 6,000 yards. Everything from par-3 courses to regulation-length 9-hole courses to 18-hole executive courses were eligible in the rating as long as they are publicly accessible. Short golf courses are often used to introduce new golfers to the game or to allow experienced golfers some practice space.
The Sugar Mountain Public Golf Course opened for play in 1974. At an elevation of 4,000 feet, the par-64 layout maximizes every mountain view, babbling brook, and rhododendron forest on the 60-acre site. The course features nine par threes, eight par fours, and a single par five.
Initially, Sugar Mountain’s golf course appeared on a North Carolina Golf Advisor rankings list that was based on consumer reviews of every public golf course. Sugar Mountain’s golf course was rated No. 9 of the top 25 in North Carolina amidst all public golf courses of any length, size or shape.
Now, Golf Advisor released a national ranking of the top 25 short courses, and Sugar Mountain appeared at No. 2 nationally as reviewed by Golf Advisor consumers.
Everything in terms of the ranking is based upon 1-5 star reviews from people who have actually played the golf courses. There are also six different categories of the rating, which are as follows: Conditions, Value, Layout, Pace, Amenities and friendliness.
Sugar Mountain’s golf course had the following ratings in each category:
Director of Golf at the Sugar Mountain Golf Club Tom McAuliffe, who is in his 20th season, said the kudos really go to Bill Daniels, who is the Public Works Director and Golf Course Superintendent, and his crew.
“People come in the pro shop and say, ‘Hey, what a magnificent course; what a great job you do,’” McAuliffe said. “I say, ‘Well, that goes to our greens crew, and it comes down to the pride they take in their golf course.’ We have multidimensional mowing patterns now, variable lengths of cut around the target areas; it just looks beautiful. It’s kept to the same degree with really less resources than many of our neighboring courses who are all spectacular. So, to be held in this regard by the golfing public is really just very overwhelming, and it’s just sensational.”
The friendliness rating also really made the Sugar Mountain staff feel good.
“As hard as it can be to be on the top of your game with the public from morning until the end of the day, sometimes you get tired, but I think we really worked hard to respect the fact that the consumer and our golfers are the only reason we’re here behind the counter,” McAuliffe said. “It’s not about us, it’s about them.”
McAuliffe further said the Sugar Mountain Golf Club has been seeing so many new people.
“We see so many people that have never been to our golf course, as you know we’re the last sanctuary in recreation in general outdoors. We’re the last sanctuary in this really trying time,” McAuliffe said. “How do we assemble? How do we have fun? How do we go out and enjoy the mountains and enjoy sports and recreation? Well it’s reflecting in the number of new people coming to Sugar Mountain and all of our neighboring golf courses.”
The Sugar Mountain Golf Club opened April 24, which is around 14 days later than usual. Therefore, McAuliffe said April was down year prior along with May.
“But once June, July, August, September and October came along, our numbers are between 30 & 40% up over year prior,” McAuliffe said. “So, it’s definitely been a strong economic impact.”
The Sugar Mountain Golf Club will close for the season on Sunday, Oct. 25. However, McAuliffe said if the weather is irresistible, they will stay open until Oct. 31.
The special fall rates are:
18 Holes: $20 green fee, $18 cart fee
9 Holes: $15 green fee, $10 cart fee
After 4 p.m. 18 Holes: $15 green fee, $10 cart fee
For more information about the Sugar Mountain Golf Club, visit their website at https://seesugar.com/golf/ or call 828-898-6464.
“We’re working real hard, and as I told my crew here because we are all very excited about that No. 2, I said, ‘Well, you know what this means? Now the pressure is on to maintain that!’”