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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Casey in line to make Ryder Cup after Travelers T-2

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:30 am

Despite coughing up a four-shot lead at the Travelers Championship, England's Paul Casey moved into a qualifying position to make his return to the Ryder Cup this fall in Paris.

Casey struggled Sunday at TPC River Highlands, shooting a 72 as Bubba Watson raced to victory with a 63. But a four-way share of second place was still good enough to lift Casey into fourth place among those not already qualified on the World Points list, with the top four Europeans from that list in August punching their tickets to Le Golf National.

Casey has played in three Ryder Cups before, but none since 2008. After renouncing his European Tour membership a few years ago, he reinstated it for the 2018 season in order to be eligible to return to the biennial matches.

Here's a look at the updated standings for Europe, with the top four players from each points list ultimately joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari


5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Matthew Fitzpatrick

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Paul Casey


5. Matthew Fitzpatrick

6. Ian Poulter

On the American side of the ledger, Watson jumped two spots to fifth with his third win of the year and seemingly locked up his spot on the squad, while Bryson DeChambeau moved inside the top eight with a top-10 finish in Connecticut.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship earning automatic bids:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Bubba Watson

6. Jordan Spieth

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Bryson DeChambeau


9. Webb Simpson

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

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Watson cracks top 15 in world with Travelers win

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:15 am

After his third win in the last five months, Bubba Watson is back on the cusp of the upper echelon in the world rankings.

Watson started the year ranked No. 89 in the world, but after a three-shot victory at the Travelers Championship the southpaw moved up seven spots to No. 13 in the latest rankings. It marks his best position since a missed cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February 2017.

Watson stayed one spot behind Paul Casey, who was one of four runners-up in Connecticut and rose one position to 12th as a result. Beau Hossler's T-2 finish helped him jump 24 spots to No. 64, while J.B. Holmes went from 93rd to 75th with the same result. Stewart Cink, who grabbed a share of second with a final-round 62, went from No. 149 to No. 95 and is back inside the top 100 in the world rankings for the first time since September 2011.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

Matt Wallace, who won the BMW International Open on the European Tour, went from 91st to 66th.

There was only one change among the top 10 in the rankings, as an idle Jon Rahm moved past Jordan Spieth at No. 5 despite Spieth's T-42 finish at TPC River Highlands. At No. 6, Spieth is at his lowest point in the rankings since before last summer's victories at Travelers and The Open.

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Rahm. Spieth slid to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Poised to return to competition this week at the Quicken Loans National, Tiger Woods fell three spots to No. 82 in the latest rankings.

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After Further Review: Spieth needs a break

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 1:11 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Jordan Spieth's much-needed break ...

Jordan Spieth is heading for a break, and that’s probably a good thing.

Spieth just wrapped a run of six events in seven weeks that featured largely underwhelming results. A third-place finish at the Masters that stemmed from a nearly-historic final round deflects attention away from the fact that Spieth has yet to enter a final round this year less than six shots off the lead.

A return to his home state didn’t work, nor did a fight against par at Shinnecock or a title defense outside Hartford where everything went so well a year ago. His putting woes appear to have bottomed out, as Spieth finished 21st in putting at Travelers, but now the alignment issue that plagued his putting appears to have bled into other parts of his game.

So heading into another title defense next month at Carnoustie, Spieth plans to take some time off and re-evaluate. Given how fast things turned around last summer, that might prove to be just what he needs. - Will Gray

On the difference between this week and last week ...

There wasn’t a single outraged tweet, not a lone voice of descent on social media following Bubba Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, a 17-under par masterpiece that included a closing loop of 30.

Nobody declared that golf was broken, no one proclaimed the royal and ancient game a victim of technology and the age of uber athletes. The only response was appreciation for what Watson, a bomber in the truest form, was able to accomplish.

At 6,840 yards, TPC River Highlands was built for fun, not speed. Without wild weather or ill-advised hole locations and greens baked to extinction, this is what the best players in the game do, and yet no one seemed outraged. Weird. - Rex Hoggard

On the emergence of another LPGA phenom ...

Add another young star to the favorites list heading to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes outside Chicago next week.

Nasa Hataoka, the 19-year-old Japanese standout who needed her rookie season last year to acclimate to the LPGA, broke through for her first LPGA title Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

This wasn’t a surprise to LPGA followers. Hataoka won the Japan Women’s Open when she was 17, the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour, and she has been trending up this year.

Her tie for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks ago was her fourth consecutive top-10 finish. She won going away in Arkansas, beating a deep field that included the top nine in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She outplayed world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson on Sunday. - Randall Mell

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Bubba waiting for Furyk's text about Ryder Cup

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:39 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – After winning his third PGA Tour title in the span of five months, Bubba Watson is now waiting by his phone.

Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, his third at TPC River Highlands since 2010, accompanies recent victories at both the Genesis Open and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play from earlier this year. It also moved the southpaw from No. 7 to No. 5 in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically.

After serving as an assistant captain at Hazeltine despite ranking No. 7 in the world at the time, Watson made it clear that he hopes to have removed any doubt about returning to the role of player when the biennial matches head to Paris this fall.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“It still says in my phone that (U.S. captain) Jim (Furyk) hasn’t texted me yet. So I’d really like for him to say I’m going to pick you no matter what,” Watson said. “The motivation is I’ve never won a Ryder Cup, so making the Ryder Cup team and trying to win a Ryder Cup as a player would be another tournament victory to me. It would be a major championship to me just because I’ve never done it, been a part of it.”

Watson turns 40 in November, and while he reiterated that his playing career might not extend too far into the future as he looks to spend more time at home with son Caleb and daughter Dakota, he’s also hoping to make an Olympic return in Tokyo in 2020 after representing the U.S. in Rio two years ago.

“Talking about the Olympics coming up, that’s motivating me,” he said. “It was the best experience of my life to watch all the other events, and then the golf tournament got in the way. I’d love to do it again. I’d love to watch all the events and then have to play golf as well.”