Mountain Golf

There are many recreational opportunities in the Cashiers area that are not on the radar screen. Some activities might be difficult to discover, but one mountain activity that we surely need to emphasize is the many local opportunities for enjoying excellent golf.

The Cashiers area ranks nationally as one of the top destinations for playing golf. On the plateau from Lake Toxaway to Highlands, there are 13 completed 18-hole golf courses and five executive courses. The list of golf architects is as good as it gets, including Arnold Palmer, Tom Fazio, George Cobb, Donald Ross, Phil Mickelson and others. In addition to the fine collection of courses on the plateau, within minutes down the road are many other options, including four Cliff development courses, one by Gary Player, one by Jack Nicklaus, and two by Tom Fazio. Among other regional courses are The Preserve by Nicklaus and Falcon’s Lair, an affordable semi-private course. The two courses that offer limited public play in Cashiers are High Hampton and Sapphire Mountain. Over the last few decades expectations for golf course conditions has drastically risen. Because of this, golf maintenance has become quite a science, especially here in this transitional climate where none of the traditional golf course grasses are ideal. Golf superintendants must carefully pay attention to the micro-climates. Some areas on north slopes are always damp and other areas on south slopes are often dry with sandy soils. This requires many different fertilizers and pesticides/fungicide applications within the course. Because of this rise in conditioning, today’s golf course superintendants are highly trained specialists in their field, part scientist, part business manager and part contractor. Under these superintendants’ direction, virtually all of the courses in the area over the last ten years have gone through one form or another of major renovation or upgrade. In 2004, Toxaway completed their refurbishment of one nine and the other nine was completed not long ago. The Country Club of Sapphire underwent a major renovation, Wade Hampton’s facelift contained 12 miles of new drainage, state of the art "fertigation”, and new grasses in many areas.

The impact on the local economy is major with an estimated $50 million expended directly on golf, golf services, club operations and property owner’s operation. This does not include the other industries such as construction and real estate that are here specifically because of golf. There are more than 150,000 rounds of golf played annually in the area averaging around 10,000 to 12,000 rounds per course per year. The gross sales of golf, food and beverage and pro shop sales is a huge impact on the local economy.
If you have not taken advantage of the great golf opportunities in the Cashiers area you obviously are missing out on something very special. Even if you are an occasional player, you should get out and see these spectacular courses and enjoy the challenges and the many incredible mountain views.