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 YouTube.com/McConnellGolf to explore our full video library. 


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Just Keep Swimming

by Martha - Page Althaus

 Aug 24, 2017 at 5:30 PM

Eighteen-year-old Jake Cogburn grew up in the club pool, competed on its swim team for ten years, and now plans to swims on the club team at High Point University.

“Swimming has been a really consistent part of my life,” he says. “I have no plans to stop now.”

Jake started on the country club team when he was five years old. He went on to swim for the local YMCA team, with two-hour practices every day. That work paid off, and he was named Mountain Athletic Conference Swimmer of the Year during his junior year of high school. His favorite event to swim is the 100m backstroke, but of all the meets he’s competed in, one strenuous competition still stands out.

“When I was 15, I swam a meet called the Ironman, where you swim every single high school race in one afternoon,” he says. “I felt great afterward, like I had accomplished something that a lot of people can’t do.”

His love of swimming goes back to Country Club of Asheville’s summer swim team. He also found encouragement from his summer swim team coach and private stroke instructor, Ann Sims, or “Mrs. Swims” as he and his friends affectionately used to call her.

“Ms. Sims had a big impact on me when I was young,” says Jake.

His mother, Julie Fields, agrees.

“Country Club of Asheville swimming had a huge impact on his move to swimming as his sport of choice,” she says. “The beauty of the club’s summer swim league is that it’s not so compet- itive. It’s more about learning. The kids all develop friendships.”

As for all those years of early practice hours and the time commitment?

“Totally worth it,” says Julie. “To have this be the thing he loves and does so well... it’s a great feeling. And it all started at the country club.”

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A Familiar Face

by Martha-Page Althaus

 Aug 03, 2017 at 7:41 PM

At Country Club of Asheville, Debbie Ponder has seen it all.

To say she’s a country club regular is a huge understatement. After all, Debbie Ponder has been working at Country Club of Asheville for nearly 37 years.

Ponder, who was hired straight out of college to handle front office duties and book private functions, now serves as the club’s membership and marketing director, a role that’s constantly evolving.

“In the 1980s, the club didn’t advertise,” she recalls. “Members brought in new members. But when corporations no longer offered memberships to their executives, that’s where the challenges came in and we ramped up our marketing efforts.”

In her tenure, she’s also seen changes in the role the club plays in members’ lives.

“It used to be all about the men. The wives and children weren’t as involved. Now we have a one-stop shop. The whole family is active beyond just the guys getting together.”

And it’s not a hard sell at Asheville, either. Since McConnell Golf took ownership in 2015, the property has undergone top-to-bottom renovations, including a recent golf course reconstruction.

“Since McConnell took over, I now have something truly enticing to sell,” says Ponder. “When I’m taking folks on a tour, they see our upgraded clubhouse and locker rooms. They see the renovated course. And when they find out they have access to 12 other private clubs? The value of this membership goes way, way up.”

In all her time at Asheville, one thing remains constant: “The members are an extension of my own family,” says Ponder. “I’ve known many of them for a long, long time. They’ve seen me come into this job straight out of college. They’ve seen me get married, have children. Their support is overwhelming.”

While Ponder has seen the club change in countless ways during her three-plus decades there, the atmosphere at Asheville now couldn’t be better.

“The new course is busy, and everyone is trying to find their game,” she says. “There’s a new energy and excitement here. Potential members are thrilled. I can say without a doubt that I love my job. I’m in the happy zone all day.”

And that’s a good place to be.


>> Learn More About Membership at Country Club of Asheville 


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From the Stands

by Martha-Page Althaus

 Jul 18, 2017 at 8:08 PM

Avid tennis fans and Country Club of Asheville members Joe and Kathryn Scott traveled to New York last year to experience the US Open - in particular, the men’s double final and women’s single final. While Serena Williams was the one Kathryn hoped to see (she didn’t make the finals) the experience of being there in person was irreplaceable.

“You don’t get a good sense of the power or speed of the game when you’re watching from home,” says Kathryn, who plays tennis with her family. “The ball is there before you even see them hit. It’s across the court and being returned so fast. That athleticism is hard to capture on TV.”

The Scotts offer some good advice for planning a trip to a national tennis tournament besides the obvious, drink plenty of water and bring sunscreen. “Give yourself plenty of time to get out to the stadium. Go early, because there’s a lot to do on the grounds.”

While it's hard to match the excitement of traveling afar to watch the pros play, the Winston-Salem Open is a great event to catch big talent locally. Again this year, McConnell Golf will organize a group trip to the event, which is the final tournament in a series of nine leading up to the US Open. It's a great chance to socialize with members from sister properties and the group enjoys tailgating before the match as much as their group seats in the stadium. 

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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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