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North Carolina Has Some Fine Golf Courses Try Anderson Creek and Crooked Creek

by Scott A. Sumner
    A recent trip to North Carolina allowed me to see some beautiful country, quite south in the US, in the summer time.  My whirlwind time there allowed for play of three great golf courses which are very representative of the local golf situation.  Dale Fogarty is the Assistant Golf Professional at Anderson Creek, Spring Lake, North Carolina.  The course was opened in 2001 as a Davis Love design and is a hidden litte secret in the sand hills area, most notably known for Pinehurst.  "I believe it was Davis Loves first course in North Carolina.  He was here at the grand opening, did a range exhibition and played 9 holes," states Dale Forgarty.
  "There are three main owners including Joey Sindelar who has a small part in the real estate.  The property is 4000 to 5000 acres.  Eventually they will make this a private course and construct a new public course."
  Anderson Creek has 70 to 80 members and for residents the cost to golf for a family is $130 per month.  The course is almost 7200 yards.  "It's just a beautiful golf course with nice, smooth rolling hills and undulating greens.  I love the beauty of the golf course more than anything else," says Forgarty.  "The rough is not thick and more set up for daily play.  It is a challenge for just about anybody.  They are as good of finishing holes as you will find anywhere."
   With bent grass greens and bermuda fairways and rough Anderson Creek was in great condition.  Regular play rates are from a peak of $75 on the weekend to $35 to $45 during the off season including cart.  They get close to 16,000 to 18,000 rounds per year which is growing every year.  Anderson Creek annually host the Colby Golf School of Toronto with two groups of 50 and some Canadians come here on packages.  Anderson Creek was voted the best new course in North Carolina in 2001.
   Lee Handzel is Vice president Sales and Marketing  of the residential component of Anderson Creek.  "On the 1700 acres that we are currently developing, Anderson Creek North, there will be 1000 families.  We are currently designing the second golf course just south of here.  There will be another 1700 families for a total of 2700," says Lee Handzel.  "Well it probably will be a different course designer of the same level.  The development corporation is out of Wilmington, Delaware, the Quantum Group with David Levinso as the president."
   The homes average 2200 to 2500 square feet in size, starting at 1500 and up to over 6000. " We have homes from $175,000 which includes the house, lot package with landscaping turnkey.  It can go up to $535,000 for 4200 square feet with an all brick exterior, granite counter tops and hardwood floors through out - really a executive home.  We have 10 custom home builders.  Some purchase a whole neighborhood of 100 to 140 lots for $45,000 to $90,000.  The average size of a lot is 1/4 to 1/2 acres or 80 by 150 feet.  We have a 50 foot set back from the course to the rear yard."  notes Handzel.  "Our goal is 200 new houses a year.  Fort Bragg is the largest military base in the US and with the consolidation of bases we will pick up another 10,000 troops in the upcoming years as we are 15 minutes from the base.  VA loans are at 5.3% with 90 to 95 % financing.  We will property manage the homes."

   Drew Smith, is the General Manager of Crooked Creek Golf Club at Fuquaydarina, just south of Raleigh.  It is  locally owned by 5 investors all who went  to North Carolina State including Tony Withers and Chuck Smith.
    "We had surprising success as when we opened  golf wasnt quite as prevelant and some would say in this area overbuilt. The years after 2001 were a little soft but we rebounded nicely. If you take the 6 counties area there are 59 courses  within  a 1 hour drive. states Drew Smith.
    The cost to play Crooked Creek on high end weekend mornings is $55 and the  low end green fee is $25.  We play golf all year round. The first year I was here it was 75 degrees and sunny in January and the next week it snowed 20 inches and we were shut down for 3 weeks.  Normally we get all year round," states Smith. " We do offer on par rates for Canada.  We get a tremendous amount of play from Canada particularly February, March and April as a lot of people will stop here because the Raleigh Airport is convenient to get to Pinehurst or Myrtle Beach.  Many people play their first or last round of their trip here."
    Crooked Creek will get 36,000 to 38,000 rounds per year.  This course requires a good position off the tee and then just because you find the green doesn't mean you are in good shape.  You can find at least 3 putts.  It is almost like there were two architects, one designing the front and another the back.  It is really just the topography of the land.
   While playing the course I saw a snake move.  Was it was a big black snake?  "That's Oscar who has been here since the late 1940s.  He is a garden variety non poisonous.  The wet lands are natural protected."  smiles Smith who worked mostly in Raleigh and has made his way in golf and higher education and back into golf.
   Crooked Creek has a staff of 45 in the summer.  There is a 4000 square feet clubhouse great for small weddings and business meetings.  Clients can have a morning meeting and play golf in the pm.
    The normal tee time reservation period is a week out.  The greens run 9 to 9.5 on the stimp metre.  If the slope rating is any higher than that, balls will run right off the greens.  The area will  normally get plenty of water but were down 4 to 5 inches this season.  "We can make it rain with our irrigation system.  It covers everything including our rough.  We need rain but we can keep everything green without it."  says Smith.
   All of the houses on the course are $400 to $450,000 and 3200 to 4000 square feet in size and are custom built.  The total constuction cost of the course was just over $3 million.

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