108. Mountaintop Golf and Lake Club
Tom Fazio (2006)
Unlike nearby Wade Hampton G.C., a Tom Fazio design ranked No. 25 that was routed through natural valleys to forego the need for dynamite, Mountaintop was blasted from solid rock. Some holes were forged through slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, like the par-4 sixth, edged by a 30-foot-high wall of granite on the right. Conservative estimates are that all that rock removal raised the cost of construction of this continuous-18 layout to $1 million per hole. The opening tee shot drops 100 feet, and six holes also play over a deep gorge formed by Hurricane Creek. Mountaintop proves there is no property too rugged for Tom Fazio.
100 Greatest/Second 100 Greatest History: Ranked on America’s 100 Greatest: 2011 through 2016. Ranked on Second 100 Greatest: 2017 through current. Highest ranking: No. 74, 2011-2012. Previous ranking: No. 104
Panelist comments, Mountaintop Golf and Lake Club:
One of the hardest challenges in routing a mountain golf course is to not give the player the feeling that he or she is playing up and down the side of a mountain. Tom Fazio accomplished this by providing individuality to each hole where you simply get lost in the woods of North Carolina. I remarked to our host on the 18th hole that the transition from the valley floor to the mountaintop was so incredibly smooth that the golfer barely notices, leading to the wonderful surprises of the long mountain views on the 15th and 18th tees.
I have played a long list of golf courses in the Appalachian Mountains. Mountaintop is as good as any and simply one of the best overall experiences in the United States. The attention to detail evident all over the property—almost artificially perfect, from the comfort stations to the halfway house bar, the clubhouse, locker rooms and practice facilities. Each of these is as good as any that I have seen in my travels.
Memorability also scored highly as the course definitely had a continuity with the mountain setting and other Fazio trademarks such as undulating fairways and bunkering style; but every hole provided a unique look and feel. It never felt like holes ran together or you saw the same shot twice.
Great variety with a driveable par 4, par 4s with short irons and wedge approach shots, as well as some leaving long iron approaches into greens. The course provided risk/reward par 5s as well as a true three-shot par 5. The par 3s stretch from 168 yards to 228 yards from the "1" tees with the 17th hole being like no other par 3 I have seen. There was great variety in hazard placements and types of hazards. There was also a great variety of elevation changes.
Most of the holes were very beautiful, but not visually stunning as its neighbor Wade Hampton. There are dramatic elevation changes but a couple flat holes as well. The mountain vistas and trees framed most of the holes very well. Also one of the most well conditioned courses I’ve played this year.