Last year, Donald Trump told Fortune magazine, “Golf should be something beautiful, elegant, something people aspire to play eventually. … It may be elitist, and perhaps that’s what golf needs.” Not everyone would agree with Trump, who owns 17 golf properties including Trump National Golf Club in Mooresville, and his view of golf as an “aspirational” sport. More than a third of the top 100 courses are accessible to the public, and this year, the North Carolina Golf Panel, which compiles the annual list, went a step further by identifying the “Top 50 Courses You Can Play” (p. 67). Trump’s North Carolina course, which ranked 22nd, isn’t open to all comers.
The panel, which includes about 130 pros, coaches, noted amateurs and business leaders, ranked Tar Heel courses for the 21st year. For a course to make the list, a minimum of 40 votes was required.
MacGregor Downs in Cary is the biggest mover, jumping 26 spots to No. 37. The 49-year-old course, designed by architect Willard Byrd, completed a major renovation that included changing the greens from bent grass to Champion Bermuda, rebuilding tees and adding 50,000 native plants to improve course aesthetics. Other courses, including N.C. State’s Lonnie Poole Golf Course (No. 65) and Country Club of Salisbury (No. 73), also benefited from recent renovations.
Whatever you make of his politics, as Trump has said, golf is the sport of business. The annual list shows North Carolina is full of impressive venues for deal-making, forging connections — and “HUGE” fun.