The Golf Club at Ballantyne in Charlotte NC gets high marks for redo

By August 17, 2010, 6:18 pm


Ballantyne Resort
The 214-room Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge is a full service resort with a golf course, spa and tennis facilities.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Traveling to the Wyndham Championship? The newly-renovated Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge gives visitors a reason to extend their vacation in North Carolina. The roller coaster up and downs of the Golf Club at Ballantyne have recently been lasered and honed, with the course reopening in 2008 after several months' renovation. The par-71 championship course is still a hilly test, but the changes are definitely an improvement.

Punctuated by stands of trees, ponds, undulating fairways and streams with some challenging risk and reward holes, the Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge's golf course first opened in 1998. It has a reputation as one of the harder courses in the area, and locals who play it often seem pleased with the upgrade.

Michael Montigo, who was playing with his teenage son, said he loved the new-look Golf Club at Ballantyne.

'When you play from the blues, it's very, very difficult,' Montigo said. 'This course can challenge anyone's game. You have to know how to read the greens – they can be hard to hold and tend to fall off.'

Take the eighth hole, a par 4, 435-yarder. It's a definite risk and reward hole, with a very active creek running in front of the green and facing you on your second shot.

Behind the green, the bank rises up like a double diamond ski run with plenty of moguls. Holding the surface isn't easy. Jam your putt from the back and your ball may scurry off the front, down the bank, into the creek.

It's a good thing the green was enlarged here; it's hard enough just getting to it, and staying on is another matter. A new greenside bunker confounds the challenge.

It becomes quickly obvious that a keen ability to read greens is essential for good scoring at the Golf Club at Ballantyne. In addition to being fast, greens may have severe undulations, some caused by spines running through the center, like midway through at the ninth.

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Golf Club at Ballantyne: An oasis amidst commerce
The centerpiece of the 214-room Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge, the golf course is tightly tucked between office condos, homes and other buildings – which, like Ballantyne, have been developed by the Bissell Family of Companies.

Clever mounding and optimal utilization of what land there is saves the track from feeling too closed in. If you catch the sun kissing the landscape, you can see how incredibly mogul-like the terrain appears.

Consider the fifth hole, lined by office condos on the right. Here your ball tends to roll right to left into a gully, so you need to keep right, a task made easier thanks to banking there. Head to the next hole and the reverse is true; the fairway slopes left to right with buildings on left.

As you play, you can hear traffic – you know it's there, but the trees and shrubbery still impart a feeling of country solitude. On the seventh hole, for example, brilliantly blooming azaleas lend sharp contrast to cars motoring by and a backdrop of brick office buildings.

The Golf Club at Ballantyne's 12th hole, a par 5, uphill climb (formerly a par 4), is another good example of this course's 'Beauty & the Beast' aspect. A pond, ducks, grasses, and flowering shrubs are juxtaposed against a parking garage and office buildings looming ahead.

The par 3s are well designed, with good balance between long and short distances and long carries. The 10th, perhaps the prettiest hole of the lot, is a 160-yard carry over water, while dogwoods and azaleas ring the fourth hole, which plays at 185 yards.

The final hole, a dogleg left playing down from an elevated tee towards the resort, provides a fun finish, with a pond on right protected by a long beach-like bunker and trees looming on the left.

I played the Golf Club at Ballantyne after a night of heavy rain. Although the ground was soggy in spots, for the most part the course had drained well and was very playable.

With four tee boxes and careful placement, tee positions are fair, allowing average golfers to enjoy a reasonably challenging game and reach greens in regulation.

Although the cart paths were excellent and the course in great shape, there were a couple of places – such as the 15th hole – where steps leading from the green up a hill to the cart path would have made sense. A map of holes on the tee boxes would also be helpful.

Those who prefer to walk the golf course can do so on weekdays and after noon on Sunday. We were out on a holiday weekend, and it seemed to be playing slow with players on tee, mid-fairway and green on most holes. As it turned out, we got through in about four hours.

Upgrades at the Golf Club at Ballantyne
Course upgrades included lasering the tees and driving range, redoing all the bunkers (adding new sand and liners), and planting several trees and shrubs like those on the 17th.

A new putting and chipping green were constructed, and the golf course was mapped for SkyCaddie, while the tops of the flag sticks were fitted with sensors for laser range finders.

The Golf Club at Ballantyne's second hole was lengthened from 365 yards to 430 yards, and a new green was constructed. The next hole, formerly a par 5, was shortened to a par 4. A new tee box was built on the 10th and some trees were removed along the left side of number 12.

Up the hill from the first tee is the resort's new four-bedroom cottage, designed in the craftsman-style. It is typically used by visiting VIPs and comes equipped with a private golf cart.

The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge's other amenities
One huge advantage to staying here are the upscale rooms and amenities of the resort proper, a perfect retreat for non-golfing companions. The Spa at Ballantyne offers more than 60 treatments and services and the elegant, 30,000-square-foot clubhouse is spruced up with antiques. On site is also the Dana Rader Golf School.

There is a halfway house serving sandwiches and snacks and on-course restrooms, while the Gallery Restaurant Bar offers dinner, drinks and terrace seating. Naturally, there's also a golf shop, equipped with the latest fashions in the game and accessories.

Rental clubs are Nike V Red irons and Sasquatch drivers. Green fees range from $69.98 to $89.98 including cart.

Rangers are an active bunch and come around regularly. One of the rangers, Tom Tait, we saw more than once. 'We want everyone to go away happy,' he said. We did.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.