About half-way between the North Carolina Triangle and Pinehurst, the Home of Golf, is the small town of Sanford where the Carolina Trace Country Club is located. The Club boasts two championship golf courses designed by one of the game’s greatest architects, Robert Trent Jones Sr. The same guy who has an entire state’s Golf Trail named for him and some 400 designs.
My wife and I were visiting golf courses throughout North Carolina, planning our travels to arrive at Quail Hollow for the PGA Championship. Our friends in Pinehurst were suggesting places to play along our route, and told us to make sure we stop at Carolina Trace Country Club, a member of the Village of Pinehurst Area Golf Association, and one of their favorite clubs to play.
Travel on Highway 87 southeast of Sanford until you see the sign to Carolina Trace, a gated community with a scenic entry surrounded by a large lake. After coming through the gate, you wind through the residential area until you reach the very attractive clubhouse. On this Sunday morning, the parking lot was full and the lovely upstairs dining room was bustling with folks enjoying the delicious brunch fare.
After being told the golf shop was on the lower floor, I found myself among golf carts going hither and yon. Players were finding their way to the first tees of the Lake and Creek courses and some were making the turn to the back nines. After checking in we warmed up at the practice area, which includes a driving range, bunker and chipping area and a practice putting green. Director of Golf Dean Allgeyer and his excellent staff are available for lessons.
In 197I, the par 72 Lakes course opened and is 6837 yards from the back tees with slope/rating of 136/73.5. There are five sets of tees to make the day on the Lakes, with its mini-verde greens and soaring pines, enjoyable for everyone. In 2014, Escalante Golf, a boutique owner/operator of outstanding clubs across the United States, purchased Carolina Trace CC. In 2015 Escalante directed a major renovation of the Lake course guided by renowned golf architect David Whelchel. Tweaks touched all aspects of the course aside from the greens: Trees were removed to improve sight lines to the generous fairways that were recontoured; Cart paths were redone along with bunker improvements; and tees were leveled and expanded.
One of the highlights of the Lake Course is the par 3’s, notably the 6th and 8th holes dramatic downhill and aesthetic designs with water in play. The back nine winds around the the 315 acre Lake Trace with picturesque views that can make you lose focus. The 13th hole is also a par three with the vast expanse of the lake as a panoramic background. The two back par fives, the 14th and 18th provide risk-reward options for charging the greens. Both holes are bordered by water with an inlet of Lake Trace to traverse on the second shot. Adding to the challenge of the 507 yard 18th is the 80 foot drop in elevation from tee to green. We thoroughly enjoyed our play on Lake.
The semi-private Carolina Trace Country Club offers the amenities of a full-service private club including tennis courts, swimming pool, water sports, state of the art fitness facilities, with fine and casual dining. There are a variety of memberships available to enjoy the club to “Trace the Dream”. The elegant Hearthstone Restaurant overlooks Lake Trace, the outdoor garden lawn and #18 Lake. The Jones Pub is a more casual option with dining available. The Marathon Bar is located at the center of the social scene- the pool, open during the season.
The Club has made arrangements with local hotels in Sanford for stay and play deals. For more information go to www.CarolinaTrace.com.