Biltmore Forest Country Club is yet another example of great Donald Ross golf residing in North Carolina, although this route rests in the more mountainous western region of the state, near Asheville. Those familiar with the town will recognize the club’s name for its similarity to the Biltmore Estate, a nearby tourist attraction and perhaps the most grandiose residence in the United States. Indeed, the Biltmore family was also involved with the founding of the club, and the sublime conditioning at the course evokes the town’s Gilded Age history.
Those conditions are due in part to a series of renovation projects conducted over the years by Brian Silva, but there is little doubt that Ross provided the Biltmores and friends a course that both looks, and plays, well.
Nos. 10 and 12 are perhaps the most photographed of the group, thanks to their plentitude of bunkers. The former requires a pinpoint approach (and a tee shot to set up that angle), as anything left or right will be buried in a graveyard-plot bunker. Two holes later, players must negotiate 10 sand hazards across just 315 yards in order to get home with a birdie (or even par). If the sand wasn’t enough, the rolling hills of the region will impress both your eye and your appreciation for Golden Age challenge.
Biltmore Forest is a fun throwback course. A Donald Ross design that has withstood the passage of time. Not that long, a par 70, but a challenge. Located just down the road from the Biltmore estate, I can state unequivocally, I had a better time at that golf course. This course probably has he largest greens of any Ross course that I have played.
As with most Ross courses, the first hole is welcoming. A short downhill par four. However, if you hit it 240+, best layup as there is a creek in front of the green. The 2nd hole isn’t even the toughest on the course. However, this is what Ben Hogan said “The second hole at Biltmore Forest Country Club is the strongest hole on the PGA Tour.” The second is a 440 yard, dogleg right par 4 with a creek running up the right side of the hole. A good drive will leave you with a 200 yard uphill approach. The 3rd is a short gimme par 3, take once less club. In my opinion the 4th is the beast of the beasts, a 475 yard uphill par 4? The 5th is only 412 yards. The 6th is a respite at 380 yards, uphill. Aim right of the center fairway pot bunker. Also, make sure you are about 5 yards right of the pin. This geen slopes hard right to left. The 7th will give you the opportunity to catch your breath. A reachable par five, if you crest the hill on your 2nd shot it will boot scoot down towards the green. A definite birdie oppty. The 8th is a 440 yard par 4, and the 7th handicap hole! My advice, hit it long and straight. The relatively short par 9th slopes right to left, take one less club than you think.
The 10th tee can be a little difficult to find. Off of 9 take a right and head back to the pro shop. You will see two tees to your left, (not counting the 1st tee that heads east) take the one to the right. A long uphill par 4, get your approach on the green to give yourself a chance. I do not have a lot of advice for 11. Allegedly, the easiest hole on the course, I blocked my tee shot weak right, decided to take my medicine and play for bogey. Hit a tree and the ball ended up on the green…. The 12th is a short uphill par 4. Favor the left off the tee and you may want to consider laying up to give yourself your favorite wedge yardage into this uphill green. The13th is another long par four. Fortunately, this one is downhill. At 471, a good drive and good five wood left me woefully short. Favor the right side off the tee as it slopes hard right to left. The 14th is a short uphill birdie oppty par four. It is driveable for stallions, if you are not going to drive it right is better to avoid the fairway bunkers left. The 15th is a long par 3 with a false front. In my opinion, long is better. The 16th is a slight dogleg left. Favor the right off the tee. The green sits on a ledge and everything will flow left. The 17th would be an awesome finishing hole, but alas, it isn’t. It is just an awesome hole. At 454 yards it is not the longest par 4, however, there is a stream left off the tee. This stream then dissects the fairway about 190 yards out. If you are putting for birdie, I doff my cap. The 18th is an uphill par four. Sadly, the tee box was way right when I played. This forced me to open my face in an effort to get over the trees on the right. As much as I would like to claim that I am a victim, I mucked the hole up and was lucky to walk away with a bogey.
An awesome fun track. I would pay to play again.