One of eight private courses in the Carolinas operated by McConnell Golf, the layout here at the Old North State Club is a Tom Fazio gem that snakes its way across rolling ground and the peninsula wildlife sanctuary wetlands known as Uwharrie Point. This aesthetically pleasing setting has allowed Fazio to create perhaps the most exciting clutch of waterside closing holes in North Carolina.
Unhindered by real estate considerations between the fairways or around the perimeters of the course, Fazio was able to lay out the holes to fit the land as best as possible. To that end, the inland holes sit quietly within the dense forest adjacent to Badin Lake before the routing heads to the water for a thrilling three-hole climax to the round.The 427-yard 16th plays downhill to a narrow green bordering the lake, followed by the all-carry 17th where the green sits on the other side of an inlet. The 568-yard closing hole then sweeps left round the lake shore where golfers can either lay-up with their second shot before approaching the green or attempt the hero shot across the water in pursuit of a grandstand finish.
I've played the course twice and frankly the main storyline for me is the opening few holes and clearly the closing trio which ends the day in high drama. The middle portion is simply vanilla from a design standpoint. If one were to assess the overall Fazio portfolio there's little doubt, in my mind, that the talented architect has done much better with layouts that are on a much higher level of interest for the duration of a round. When I think of such Fazio gems as Gozzer Ranch, Victoria National, Martis Camp, Glenwild, Pronghorn, Galloway National, Karsten Creek Wade Hampton, to name just a few -- the caliber of the golf remains high throughout the 18 holes.
Old North State is generally in tip top shape and no doubt when you add the views of the nearby lake the facility will secure a few more brownie points from people fortunate to play the course.
The Tar Heel State has clearly blossomed over the last 25-30 years and the new course additions have clearly added to the competitive scene.
Old North State has its moments but there's also plenty there simply going through cruise control. Play the first couple of holes and then skip to the final trio -- at that point you've seen the whole movie.
M. James Ward