The Best Ways to Experience Golf in Charlotte
With dozens of public golf courses claiming grounds in greater Charlotte, finding spectacular greens on which to perfect each par is easy.
From the smell of morning dew and fresh-cut grass to the clink of the ball sent clipping through the air, nothing brings a smile to a golfer’s face like a day spent hitting the links beneath sunny skies. And with Charlotte’s pleasant, mild weather, golfing is a sport both locals and visitors are fortunate enough to enjoy year-round.
Whether you’re invested enough in your personal record to drink Arnold Palmers for good luck before a round of 18 or are really only interested in claiming a hole-in-one for family bragging rights, there is a golf game here for you in the Queen City, where public courses, driving ranges, golf schools and lessons, and gamer golf abound.
With dozens of public golf courses claiming grounds in greater Charlotte, finding spectacular greens on which to perfect each par is easy. But how do you pair down the list of places? We’re here to help.
Novice golfers starting out at a laid-back pace may prefer one of the area’s more affordable county-owned public courses. Located minutes from Uptown, the once overlooked Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course at Revolution Park went through a $10 million renovation in 2010, which included the addition of a driving range, new pro shop and full-service snack bar to the nine-hole course.
If you find yourself reviewing your form on film, you’re probably ready to take on one of the city’s more prestigious and difficult courses. The Golf Club at Ballantyne may be Charlotte’s most famous public course. With a spa and luxury hotel anchored to the 18-hole PGA course, The Golf Club at Ballantyne attracts golfers from around the world for weekends filled with picture-perfect relaxation and pro-level play.
Packing four sets of tees measuring between 5,080 and 7,000 yards, plus 67 bunkers and a harrowing ninth hole that forces even the most experienced golfer to choke down on his grip, Highland Creek Golf Club in University City has been dubbed the city’s most challenging public course.
Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation is an option many golfers forget about, as the course is semi-private. However the links, designed by Hall of Fame architect Tom Jackson, have won multiple awards, and they’re ones you’ll want to take a swing at. While you’re surveying the manicured Bermuda grass fairways and the zoysia grass around the bunkers, take in the stately Carolina pines that enclose the course.
Golf Schools / Lessons / Driving Ranges
Perhaps you’re not ready for the links yet. Hey, you may be the king of duffs or the designated cold one-carrying caddy—we’re not judging. But Charlotte offers golf schools, lessons and driving ranges galore, which means you’re just one great teacher away from finding your stride. Best of all, you’ll be able to practice your swing in a patient and encouraging environment.
The Golf Club at Ballantyne’s resume doesn’t end with its championship greens; it’s also home to one of Charlotte’s premier golf schools, Dana Rader Golf School. The Carolinas’ only Golf Channel Academy staffs a team of certified LPGA and PGA instructors ready to help your game soar from birdie to eagle. The school offers everything from new golfer programs to women’s programs and junior programs—all in a state-of-the art practice facility.
While Leatherman Golf Learning Center in South Charlotte may be best known for its double-decker driving range, putting and chipping green, and practice sand trap, housed within the center’s grounds is a golf school led by PGA Class-A professional Chris Leatherman. Programs range from individual lessons to group sessions. Also popular at Leatherman are the demo day offerings in which golfers can try before they buy.
Ease out of your learning environment by putting in some solo hours at the driving range. While most golf courses in Charlotte have an on-site driving range, some standalone driving ranges include Leatherman Golf Learning Center, Golf Depot in Pineville and Westwood Driving Range in North Charlotte. Pro Tip: Be sure to find a golf range that offers grass to tee off from, along with mats, as grass better simulates a golf course.
Transitioning from the driving range to an 18-hole course can be quite daunting, which is why many instructors recommend dipping your club in the grass at a par-3 course first. Both Sunset Hills Golf Course and Paradise Valley Golf Course are county-owned par-3 golf courses. When you’re ready to move up, Sunset Hills offers an 18-hole course. If you’re looking for a place that has it all, from lessons to a driving range, pro-shop and a par-3 course, be sure to look into Mooresville Golf Range & Par 3.
Golf doesn’t always have to be about collared shirts, swanky clubhouses and the perfect back-swing; it can just be about the fun. Around Charlotte, family-friendly golf hubs are working to make that more of an everyday thing.
With much success in other cities, Topgolf comes to Charlotte this summer, and its arrival is most anticipated. The high-tech driving range-meets-Dave & Buster’s setup offers a variety of interactive games based on shot accuracy and distance, which are measured by microchips implanted in the golf balls. The three-level venue offers 102 climate-controlled hitting bays that can hold up to six players at a time. With a full-service restaurant and bar, music, lounges and hundreds of high-definition TVs, Topgolf is both kid-friendly and adult-friendly.
Of course, we’d be remiss to overlook putt-putt and mini golf, the tried-and-true family outing that sparks nostalgia in most of us. The best news? The game we all love isn’t relegated to beach trips; Charlotte’s got plenty of its own mini golfing outlets.
Adventure Landing in Pineville falls along the traditional lines of putt-putt, with three 18-hole miniature golf courses that are sprinkled with challenging but fun obstacles, like tunnels, waterfalls and mountains. Adventure Landing also features go-kart racing, bumper boats, kiddie rides and batting cages, giving it a full-on miniature amusement park feel.
Purple Planet Mini Golf in Belmont takes miniature golf to the extra-terrestrial level. Here, players don 3-D glasses in a climate-controlled, backlit arena and try to dodge targets that are both seen and unseen. While it may not be real golf, it’s fun the whole family can enjoy.
Other great mini golf options around the city include: Lost Duffer Miniature Golf, whose University City course replicates a 19th-century mining camp (a nod to Charlotte’s gold mining history); Lake Norman Mini Golf, which even throws laser beams into the putt-putt mix; Queen’s Landing mini golf in Mooresville, which boasts lakeside waterfalls, caves and a giant sandcastle; and a bevy of others.
This article ran in the May 2017 issue of Charlotte Happenings. Updated September 2018.