Champion Hills Club – Hendersonville, North Carolina

Located in Western North Carolina within the splendor of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the Fazio designed course at Champion Hills Club opened in 1991, and was immediately named one of the Tar Heel state’s finest gems. The club’s vibe is an ideal blend southern hospitality with a mountain lifestyle that creates a unique experience for its members and their guests. In mid-May, we visited the charming town of Hendersonville and experienced the course that’s considered one of Tom Fazio’s seminal works of mountain golf course architecture (ranked #11 Best Private Course in North Carolina by Golfweek).

North Carolina is easily one of the most golf-rich states in the country with a total of more than six-hundred courses which includes several worthy private clubs that dot the landscape of America’s Top 100 – including Old Town Club, Wade Hampton, and Quail Hollow just to name a few.  

Tom Fazio devised a routing through forested hills, deep ravines and cool mountain streams. He pulled ridges into valleys and filled hollows to create “playing platforms” providing golfers with level lies amid 350 feet of elevation change. “Six holes play slightly uphill on the entire course, but only six,” Fazio says, smiling. “Overall, the majority of holes play downhill.” 

At only 336 from the Burgundy tees (one up from the tips), Fazio looks to get you off to a solid start with this shorty that plays through the chute leaving a slightly uphill approach.

Champion Hills features five sets of tees, included three sets rated for women and “Combo tees” that eleviates forced carries, thus eliminating stressful shots for the higher handicap player and those with slower swing speeds. Brilliant.

The 158 yard fourth is nestled within the native Carolina foliage. Club selection is critical here with a severe false front right, and bunker left that guards this well-contoured putting surface. 

The par 5 fifth is the longest hole at Champion Hills (playing 543 yards from the burgundy tees). This narrow fairway is carved out of the hillside, long hitters attempting to reach in two must guard against a pond that fronts the left edge of the green.

The sweeping 369-yard downhill seventh favors a right to left drive, providing the favor angle for approach.

Fazio forces you to think about the club selection and shot you need to play off the tee at the short 345 yard eighth. The properly shaped shot is required because of the angle and contours on the ribbon-like fairway that’s influenced by the hillside.

The 195-yard ninth (back tee) sits right outside the clubhouse grillroom in full view and will surely give all golfers a thrill and a challenge. Elevated 125 ft above the green surface, wind will be a factor in choosing the correct club here. We experienced a Wild Turkey sighting on the green, where he put on quite the show, displaying his full plumage of colors while strutting back and forth across the green for several minutes. 

Fazio routed the course so most of the holes play downhill but land on level playing surfaces – the 500 yard par 5 thirteenth (above) is a perfect example. Split the drive between the right bunker and the ravine on the left to have a chance to go for it in two.

Fazio calls Champion Hills a “golf course in the mountains, not a mountain golf course.” Most mountainous layouts are riddled with blind shots and uneven lies that penalize even well-struck tee shots. That’s not the case at Champions Hills, where Fazio’s team of earth movers and shapers created level “playing platforms,” and shots often funnel to landing areas and pin placements.

For those who don’t reach the surface in two, the short approach on the thirteenth requires precision, the green contour moves left to right off the greenside bunker at this idyllic setting.

The 329 yard downhill par 4 fourteenth is another stunner, the approach plays a bit back up the hill. The green complex here poses a unique challenge unlike any hole at Champion Hills . . .

A side view of the fourteenth green shows how the hillside on the left and the steep false front on the right influence this short finesse approach. The green surface wraps around Fazio’s front angled bunker. Although it’s just a drive and a wedge, the thirteenth may be the most thought-provoking design on the golf course. 

At the 332 yard fifteenth, just a fairway wood or hybrid down the right center will leave the best angle and avoids the creek that runs diagonally left to right across the fairway.

The proper angle into the 15th.

The tee at par 5 sixteenth is the only carry over a large body of water at CH, and it tempts the better player to take on carrying the far right bunker.

A drive just short of the creek leaves a decision to go or not to go on the 499 yard par 5 sixteenth.

The fabulous finisher at Champion Hills is a dramatic 403 yard par 4 that sweeps left to right off the hillside, a tee shot aimed at the left bunker with a slight fade will get you into position. Anything leaking right will likely find the mountain stream that runs along the entire right side.

From the shortgrass, you can attack the approach to the final target at one of Tom Fazio’s finest.

Champion Hills lives up to the praise in every way, taking you on a thrill ride that will challenge your shotmaking and creative thought process up and down the beautiful natural setting of the Carolina mountains.

The town of Hendersonville enjoys a mild climate all year long with temperate winters and cool mountain summers that draw residents from points north and south. Not to mention vibrant fall seasonal colors. Residents enjoy the vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and are within close proximity to entertainment, sports, the arts and outstanding healthcare of the Asheville and Greenville area.

Champion Hills is a member-owned community with a range of membership options to fit your lifestyle. Aside from Fazio’s masterful golf design, the club features a modern wellness center, an amazing club dining experience and access to nearly 500 clubs around the world.

https://www.championhills.com/golf

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