Improving Your Game

by Brian Kittler

 Jul 04, 2019 at 12:11 AM

SkyTrak simulator allows indoor practice at The Country Club of Asheville

As we all experienced,rain fall in 2018 was significant. In fact, mos reported totals from the National Weather Service were at least a foot above average, with many cities in North Carolina setting records. On the bright side, rain and snow couldn’t stop members at Country Club of Asheville from working on their game this winter thanks to SkyTrak.

With the help of the Men’s Golf Association, Director of Golf Matt Stewart and his team installed the indoor golf simulator in the Cardinal Room this past December. This system allows members to improve their game year-round, practice anytime regardless of weather, and provides opportunities for games and entertainment.

Within its first three months at the club, the CCA professional staff did over 100 lessons and 25 club fittings, in addition to members playing over 50 rounds of golf on the many courses SkyTrak has to offer.

The system is extremely valuable in providing information that gives golfers of all levels a better understanding of what equipment to play with and why, by tracking how far they hit each club in their bag - not to mention the ability to play some golf during the slow winter months and keep their game in shape.

SkyTrak has been an asset to Stewart and his team as a teaching tool, helping to educate members about equipment options and keeping them engaged during the off-season.

“One huge benefit we have experienced by having SkyTrak has been the interaction with our members on those cold winter days or rainy days where most might stay home due to the weather. Instead, they are coming to the club to play, practice, or get lessons and club fittings on SkyTrak.”

A frequent user of SkyTrak is CCA member Randy McKinney, and he agrees with Matt. “What a great addition to the Country Club of Asheville! It’s a great way to practice year-round and in all types of weather. It gives me instant, accurate feedback on every swing.”

In addition to improving members’ games, the golf operations team has scheduled social events utilizing SkyTrak. During the NCAA Sweet 16 Basketball Tournament in March the staff hosted Hoops, Wings and Swings. Forty members attended to enjoy wings, a nacho bar and draft beer specials in addition to having a closest to the pin contest while watching the tournament and their brackets.

The excitement surrounding SkyTrak shows no sign of slowing. Moving forward, it will continue to be incorporated as an element of interactive fun at club events and as a way to “tag along” for the last three majors this season.


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Golf America Names CCA Best of 2017

by Casey Griffith

 Jan 05, 2018 at 2:22 PM

National television show selects Country Club of Asheville among its top courses of 2017 

After touring some of the country's most esteemed golf courses, Golf America and its host Alan Hunter named Country Club of Asheville among the top four tracts they toured in 2017. The course's rich history, diverse topography and recently completed reconstruction effort make it a stand-out. 

Airing in late December, the annual best-of-show episode revisited stunning aerial drone footage and historical photographs. Hunter opens the final segment of the program as follows: "Our final course we're featuring in our Best of 2017 Show is the Country Club of Asheville. It is one of the oldest private clubs in the U.S. and it features a Donald Ross designed golf course that was reconstructed in 2016 by Richard Mandell." 

A few minutes later, Country Club of Asheville Director of Golf Matt Stewart lends his knowledge of the course to the featured holes in the episode. Of #9 he states "Depending upon where the flag is, even a marginal shot into the green might catch the right slope and end up a whole lot better than what you would have thought."   

Watch the full CCA portion below and visit to explore our full video library. 



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Welcome to Our New Superintendent

by Michael Shoun

 Nov 08, 2017 at 8:20 PM

Country Club of Asheville is pleased to welcome a new superintendent this November.

Brandon Ingle brings 19 years of experience in the course maintenance field to our growing club. Most recently he was the superintendent at the prestigious Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville, South Carolina which was ranked among the top courses in the nation while under his leadership. Brandon also has experience with a cool season course which he acquired while at Linville Ridge Country Club as senior assistant. He began his management career at one of our very own facilities, TPC Wakefield Plantation in Raleigh, as assistant superintendent. We are fortunate to gain a superintendent with Brandon’s level of experience and expertise and are very excited to see what he will bring to our fantastic facility.

Brandon is an avid golfer, enjoys spending time with his family (wife Kristen, son Aiden, and daughter Avery) and manning the grill. The Ingles are very excited about their new home and to experience mountain living.

We are grateful to John Shaw and the entire golf course maintenance crew at CCA for their work during this interim period. The course is getting better every day and it is thanks to these folks for the consistent hard work they do.

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Country Club of Asheville Featured on Golf America

by Casey Griffith

 Sep 06, 2017 at 1:52 PM

National television show visits North Carolina and features the Country Club of Asheville 

"It was on this unique piece of property that legendary golf course designer Donald Ross left his mark in Western North Carolina," begins host Alan Hunter to open the show, "Although this Ross-designed layout has stood the test of time, in 2016 McConnell Golf who owns the club brought in golf course architect Richard Mandell to update the course." The Golf America segment continues to treat viewers to a well-rounded presentation of the private club in Asheville. 

Having aired in August, the program used both ground-level and aerial drone footage to narrate the history of the club and lead viewers on a course tour. Hunter also profiled three featured holes at CCA (Nos 4, 14 and 16) sharing the challenges they present alongside tips and commentary from Director of Golf Matt Stewart on how to navigate their intricacies. Stewart also presents a golf tip where he demonstrates how to hit out of deep rough - specifically where and how to place your club in relation to the ball for a clean shot.  

The segment ends with a few words from Club Manager Michael Methot and Membership Director Debbie Ponder about the club's amenities and social events. About membership, Ponder adds "One of the unique aspects is that when you join Country Club of Asheville, you're pretty much a member of twelve different private clubs". Methot summarizes nicely with, "It's quite incredible to see what the club originally started out as, and what it's shaped into today."

Watch the full program below and visit to explore our full video library. 


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A Triumphant Return to the Course

by Matt Stewart

 Apr 20, 2017 at 8:00 PM

This past weekend the Country Club of Asheville unveiled its newly renovated golf course to the membership for the first time. The golf course was closed for 348 days and redesigned under the guidance of Richard Mandell. Mandell was in charge of reshaping and reconstructing all 18 greens to the original 1928 Donald Ross design. After almost a year of construction and a few battles with Mother Nature, the course reopened on Friday, April 14th with over 180 anxious members seeing the changes for the first time.

The member’s re-opening weekend turned out to be a big hit. The inaugural tee shot was struck at 8am by long-time Country Club of Asheville member Clay Emerik, a fixture of the course prior to reconstruction as he frequently walked the 18 hole track. The weather could not have turned out better for the first day of golf on the new course with three great days of highs in the upper 70s, an abundance of sunshine and very little wind.

Overall the reviews of the course were fantastic. Keeping in the spirit of what Donald Ross was known for, Pinehurst #2 being one of his more famous designs, the greens were re-shaped with lots of slope and undulations that were designed to present a fair but challenging test on the putting green. CCA member Rick Arpin exclaimed, “I would kiss the architect if he were standing here right now... this place is beautiful!” Numerous club members, some of more than 30 years, were astonished at how great their golf course had become. With warmer summer weather on the way, the course will get better and better as the new grasses on the property start to prosper and fill in.

The Grand Reopening Event is scheduled for Friday, May 5th through Sunday the 7th when the practice facility will be unveiled. With the addition of a larger practice tee that offers more space for players to work on their game and a newly added short game area to fine tune chipping, pitching, and bunker play, the club will offer not only a new course but a more modern practice area for all to enjoy.

Rounding out McConnell Golf’s $4.6 million investment to the club’s facilities since 2014, Country Club of Asheville members have a golf course and private club to be very proud of. After enjoying three rounds during opening weekend CCA member (and Club Champion) Pat Thompson declared, “We are going to be as good as it gets when it comes to golf courses in Western North Carolina!”

Pictured Above: Rich Ford, Clay Emerick, Bob Gelder, and Rod Pennington were the first members to tee off 

>> Watch the Inaugural Tee Shot on Facebook 


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Golf Course Reconstruction

by Matt McConnell

 Apr 10, 2017 at 5:27 PM

The Course's Modern Transformation to the Original Vision of Donald Ross

For all of 2016, Country Club of Asheville's Donald Ross golf course was closed due to extensive resto­ration by course architect Richard Mandell. He made many great improvements, such as new 007 Bentgrass on all 18 greens, a restored creek crossing on No. 10, a new practice facility, and rerouted cart paths, to name a few. For Mandell, the most excit­ing part of the project would be discovering and returning the forgotten work Ross had created in 1928.

“Renovations at the Country Club of Asheville have been a very enjoyable experience for me working alongside Superinten­dent Robby Watts and his crew,” explains Mandell. “It was fun to incorporate my knowledge of Ross in creating new greens where possible and uncovering some of the original greens buried under a few existing ones.”

Using information from long-time country club members and notes from the original construction, Mandell tried to mimic the original course layout as closely as possible. Every piece of data gathered would allow him to focus on his goal of preserving the original instead of making design changes. “My early process walk-through with Les Stradley, who was the golf pro there in the 1970s, was an eye-opener as to the changes to the greens in the ‘60s from Ross’ work,” says Mandell.

By changes he means “changes.” For example, many believed the No. 12 green was the original putting surface elevation. However, it was discovered that the green Donald Ross built was under seven feet of dirt, one of the many surprises found throughout the construction. The green would be restored to the original grass line.

“I am most proud of the finish work to the features and shaping of the putting surfaces, which was done by NMP Golf Construction and my shaper, Marc Burger,” says Mandell. “I hope the greens are as fun to putt on as they were to design. Mr. McConnell wanted a set of very interesting, challenging putting surfaces, which is what we delivered. I believe they are the soul of the course now.”

Besides the changes to the greens, another adaptation required moving the first tee. The results: A better view of the fairway for the golfer’s drive and the creation of space for a 10,000-square-foot prac­tice putting green next to the clubhouse. Relocating the tee may not have been what Ross envisioned, but it’s a great enhancement everyone will enjoy.

The reconstruction efforts provide promising course conditions, especially with the new drainage and turf. Strategically chosen for Asheville’s unique climate, the 007 Bentgrass greens will perform very well in the cool weather along with the rest of the course. The fairways are also Bentgrass, while the roughs are a blend called Midnight Kentucky Blue­grass. To reduce excessive mowing, Mandell used Meyer Zoysia on the sand bunker faces, just as he did at Raleigh Country Club in 2006. Although Zoysia is a slow-growth, warm-season grass used all over the Southeast, it is new to the Asheville area.

“Overall, the work here at CCA is some of my best,” says Mandell. “I think the green complexes and the bunkering are a testament to Ross’ practical approach to design, yet we seized the opportunity to create a bit more variety from hole to hole. It was an honor to work on the 16th hole, as it has always been one of my favorites as depicted in one of my favorite books on golf architecture, George Thomas’s Golf Architecture in America.”


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The DR-40

by Matt McConnell

 Jul 06, 2016 at 8:00 PM

All four of McConnell Golf's Donald Ross-designed courses lie along Interstate 40; let’s take a trip!

The legendary Donald Ross designed four beloved McConnell Golf Courses, and each one is easily accessed from Interstate 40. Since Interstate 40 is often called “I-40” in conversation, we like to call this trail of courses the “DR-40.” At exactly 400 Donald Ross Drive, just outside of downtown Raleigh, DR-40 begins at Raleigh Country Club. Ninety miles west in Greensboro, North Carolina, the most challenging Ross-designed course along DR-40 is Sedgefield Country Club. Here’s a look at Asheville's stop along this well-traveled route.

An easy drive from Greensboro in the Blue Ridge Mountains you'll find a true gem at Country Club of Asheville. Considered the oldest private club in North Carolina, it was founded in 1894 and is McConnell Golf’s only mountain course. Recognized as one of “The First 100 Clubs in America,” this track is the shortest course along DR-40 at 6,673 yards. However, it is definitely the most elevated, offering incredible views of the surrounding mountains. No doubt the best view is on hole 15. After you continuously hit uphill onto the green, you’ll feel compelled to pause and enjoy the vista as you overlook downtown Asheville. Besides appreciating the gorgeous scenery, you’ll enjoy the abundant wildlife: turkeys, deer, and even black bears, that the golfers here have said are friendly.

After a scenic drive through the mountains, the last stop on DR-40 is at Holston Hills Country Club in Knoxville, Tennessee. This course has been well-preserved since Ross created it in 1927, in fact, every tee and green at Holston Hills is still located exactly where it was originally built, allowing golfers a pure experience to play the course as it was intended.

What the DR-40 courses have in common are small undulating greens and rolling fairways, but each course is unique. The only way to know for sure is to see for yourself; the entire drive takes five-and-a-half-hours, and the trip makes for a perfect golf vacation. 

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