We have got 9 courses to cover in North Carolina and there isn't a bad round in the bag. Strap in folks, because North Carolina is one of America's greatest golfing states. The action got started out at Grandfather Golf Club. The good news about starting off in the Cherokee National Forest is that the weather is significantly cooler. This was a much needed break from the previous sweat fest in South Carolina.
There is a high concentration of quality golf courses in this area and unfortunately, I only had time for a couple of them. I was certainly satisfied with my decision to pay a visit to nearby Elk River Club. The club is not very well known in golf circles outside of North Carolina, but I found it to be one of my favorites in the state.
After a great couple of rounds in the mountains, the tour made it's way into Charlotte for what would be one of my favorite tour stops in North Carolina. I was meeting up with the Thrift brothers, Payne and Wilson, to play Charlotte CC. While these two don't have their high school diplomas, they do have a pretty good golf education and took me on an excellent tour of Charlotte CC. There was even a pretty good sibling rivalry match going on. In an upset victory, younger brother Wilson took the victory over Payne.
Afterwards, I sat down with the entire Thrift family and we enjoyed a marvelous home cooked meal. The conversation was just as amazing as the salmon.
Thank you very much to the Thrift family for inviting The RGV Tour into your home and your driveway. Upon departing, the tour was honored with a fine American flag painting to commemorate the visit. It is proudly displayed in the living quarters of the RGV. This is as amazing as it gets.
After a brief stint over to the North Carolina coast and Eagle Point, it was time to welcome Kenzie O Connell onto the RGV Tour. I picked her up at the airport in the RGV, which is just about as classy as it gets. After meeting up with an old friend of mine from San Francisco named Chandley, we got to work on putting together the first ever RGV Tour promotional video. These results should speak for themselves. Tour interest has risen 250% after this video hit the internet.
Up next on the never ending golf journey was Pinehurst No 5 and The Cradle with Unkl Ben. He's not my uncle or a rapper, that's just his Instagram name. Ben is an employee of Pinehurst on the maintenance staff and was eager to show off his golf courses to us. We gladly obliged. While No. 5 is an excellent round of golf, it was The Cradle that really grabbed our attention.
The Cradle is a 9 hole short course designed by Gil Hanse and the yardages range from 50 to 127. So, you won't need many clubs. For what you do decide to bring, they give you a nice little carry bag for your round. My favorite part about The Cradle is that in the afternoons, they pump the jams. *You can dance if you want to, just don't leave your friends behind. *Safety Dance
Our crew did a little dancing and set out after some aces. We found some birdies but nothing went in the hole. I am still scratching my head on one of my shots. "How does it bounce there and end up there without going in?" I have said that phrase too many times.
Up next was the RGV Tour Open out at Dormie Club. The Dormie Club is a consistent favorite in the Pinehurst area and we had a gang of golfers ready to tee it up in the name of the First Tee. We had alerted the local news and we had some coverage from the press. Ted Fitzgerald wound up getting some great photos from the event and we ended up on the front page of The Pilot. The Pilot is pretty much the New York Times of Southern Pines.
Since it was so hot, Kenzie and I decided to play barefoot in order to keep cool. I did wear sandals for maybe 50% of the time and there is also a video of me high kicking my sandal into the air after syncing a tough putt for par.
In the sponsor group, Kenzie and I teed it up with Luke and Andy from Lie & Loft. These guys run a golf design company that makes some really cool stuff connecting golf and the home. Their motto: Golf is Home. Man, what a sentence! Golf couldn't be more of a home for me on this journey. The Lie & Loft folks gave away some great prizes to our Gross and Net Champions. To see what they are cooking up next, check em out here.
Afterwards, Kenzie posed for an impromptu toilet modeling session. Yes, you will need to tune into the podcast to get the full explanation.
Next up: FOOD POISONING!!! I wanted pizza, but I ended up with a Shrimp Po' Boy at the Hickory Tavern. I wouldn't be the same for a full week. Ha, nice try golf gods, but I am gonna keep after it. Just because you have food poisoning doesn't mean you have to stop playing golf. The first test of this theory came at Tobacco Road. The good news is that Tobacco Road is a wildly fun place to play golf and I managed to pull through.
After Tobacco Road, It was time for Kenzie to hop off of the golf train and return to reality. It is always a pleasure having a co-pilot on the journey and Kenzie was a fantastic one. The Tour gives Kenzie a 5 golf ball co-pilot rating. When it comes to RGV Tour Co pilot ratings, that's the highest co-pilot rating possible. It's pretty much like receiving an Oscar.
For the head pilot, it was time to move forward and back into the mountains. I had two tee times lined up at several of North Carolina's best. It was Wade Hampton and then Mountaintop. At Wade Hampton, the sickness of the Shrimp Po' Boy was still coursing through my veins, but I managed to keep my senses intact and even make a couple of birdies.
The attention to detail that the maintenance team at Wade Hampton takes is simply outstanding. While I was out there, they were raking the creeks to make sure that they flow clean with fresh mountain water.
After existing on crackers for several days, my body was slowly making a recovery. Which is good because Mountaintop's snack shacks are serious business. You can get just about anything your heart/stomach desires. I went with a steamed turkey and cheese sandwich that soothed my stomach like never before. As I headed out of North Carolina and into Virginia the zest was beginning to return.