The fall foliage in North Carolina is some of the most vibrant in the country. If your timing is right, the views can be simply breathtaking. One of the best ways to spend as much time as possible in the reds, oranges, and yellows is with a round (or two, or three) of golf.
The leaves start changing in North Carolina's higher elevations, the Smoky Mountains, anywhere from late September to early October, depending on the year's climate. The foliage moves east across the state, finishing up around the beginning of November. In this article, we'll move from west to east as well, highlighting some of the best public golf courses in Tar Heel country. These courses are beautiful not only for their design features, but also because they areparticularly vibrant during the fall season.
Beginnings of fall foliage at Sequoyah National — Photo courtesy of Notah Begay III
The first course is Sequoyah National Golf Club, near Cherokee. Designed by Robert Trent Jones II, it's about 45 minutes west of Asheville. This is classic mountain golf that offers spectacular views of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as the maples and other tree varieties that produce eye-popping foliage. Measuring 6600 yards from the back tees, the course uses its elevation as its primary defense. Sequoyah National was recently ranked as the 14th best public course in North Carolina by Golf Magazine.
Water plays a big role at both of Rumbling Bald's courses — Photo courtesy of Rumbling Bald Resort
Next, we head east on I-40, about an hour east of Asheville, to the town of Lake Lure. Here is the Rumbling Bald Resort, with two courses nestled between the famous Bald Mountain and the north end of the lake. The Bald Mountain course starts in a valley between the mountains, giving you a false sense of security, before climbing into the foothills. The Apple Valley course is consistently elevated, including the 9th and 18th holes that rise to the clubhouse, which is located on the highest point of the property. There are also plenty of other activities involving the lake, including fishing and boating.
Eye-popping color at Tot Hill Farm — Photo courtesy of Tot Hill Farm Golf Club
As we chase the changing leaves into the Sand Hills region, we come across the renowned courses that surround Pinehurst. The resort, including the No. 2 Course, is undeniably incredible. But, if you're looking for something more centrally located (and more affordable), give Tot Hill Farm in Asheboro a try. It's directly between Charlotte and Raleigh, about 70 miles from either. Tot Hill is rated 4.5 stars by Golf Digest and stretches out to about 6500 yards of rock formations, creeks, and wonderful views.