Carolinas Golf Magazine


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G randfather is 50. And that's not referring to y our own relative. In golf talk, that means that the "Crown Jewel of the Mountains" was opened 50 years ago. Grandfather Golf and Country Club in mountain- ous Linville, N.C., will celebrate its golden anniver- sary with a variety of events throughout the current season as it honors its illustrious past and makes plans for the future. Work on the course was begun in 1965 and com- pleted three years later. Designed by Ellis Maples, a long-time assistant to Donald Ross, Grandfather is ranked as the second-best in North Carolina by the NC Golf Panel, behind only Pinehurst No. 2. It is also highly ranked on a national level. The late Ed Seay, who became a national success as an architect with Arnold Palmer, played a key role in the construction. He was an Ellis assistant at the time. Because of the rugged terrain, massive boulders to be removed, and trees to be cut down, work was slow. Maples and Seay spent countless hours walking through the rhododendron thickets, forested areas and across creeks before coming up with a routing that they thought was ideal. The course, originally named Glen Dornie Club to reflect its Scottish heritage, was founded by Agnes (Aggie) Morton with financial help from her brother Hugh Morton and John Williams, a long-time Linville resident. The name was later changed to Grandfather. Ironically, the course was built on a whim by Morton, a noted amateur who won the NC Women's Amateur championship four times. Peeved that she couldn't get a starting time at nearby Linville Golf Club, she told friends "I think I will build by own course and then I won't have this problem." So, she did. Throughout the years, the club has continued to be recognized as a championship layout and has hosted countless tournaments, including a number of Carolinas Golf Association events such as the 2017 Carolinas Senior Amateur, and the Captain's Putter matches (Carolinas/Virginias men team matches). A nd the highly regarded layout has attracted a long list of celebrities such as comedians Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis, baseball greats Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle, evangelists Billy Graham and Oral Roberts, amateur golfers Billy Joe Patton and Harvie Ward, basketball coaches Dean Smith and Roy Williams, Augusta National legend Cliff Roberts, Army general William Westmoreland and countless professional golfers. Georgia Tech football coach Paul Johnson, a native of nearby Newland, has a summer home on the tenth fairway and is frequent player. He regales his friends with colorful tales of his caddying days at the course when he was in high school. "I wouldn't take anything for that experience," he says, "and I made a few bucks in the process… money that a teenager badly needed." "We certainly get our share of dignitaries," says Bob Gaefell of Charlotte. "Your never know who you will see on the course and in the locker room. And that adds to the many benefits of being a member." Over the years, the course has become known for its majestic scenery, excellent conditioning, variety of challenges, fairness, walkability and the fact that no other holes can be seen from the one being played. Signature holes are eight and 18, and the towering peaks of the famous mountain, for which the course is named, can be seen from a number of holes. In addition to several tournaments and gala parties, in June the club will host a group of Scottish golfers from the Nairn Golf Club. "There will be bag- pipes, kilts, tartans, plaids and more," says PGA Director of Golf Chip King. "It should be a colorful, enjoyable and memorable affair with a distinct Gaelic theme." Next year, a group from Grandfather will travel to Nairn. Grandfather also has a scenic and challenging 18-hole executive course which receives steady play throughout the season and is an added attraction at the prestigious club. "This truly is a great club and golf course," said King, a veteran professional. "I just hope the next fifty years will be as much fun and as successful as the past." ■ Bill Hensley is a veteran golf and travel writer from Charlotte. He is a member of the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame. 40 | CAROLINAS GOLF | S U M M E R 2 0 1 8 F I NA L S AY An Iconic Club Turns 50 Grandfather Golf and Country Club is commemorating a half-century of golf in the mountains of Linville, N.C. B Y BILL HENSLEY Over the years, the course has become known for its majestic scenery , excellent conditioning and variety of challenges.

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