In Good Taste

by Martha-Page Althaus

 Jun 21, 2018 at 3:30 PM

There’s never been a better time to have dinner at the club. Here's, one of McConnell Golf's Executive Chefs dish on everything from locally sourced ingredients to the best entrée and wine pairings.

Bruce McIntosh, Certified Executive Chef

“The halibut we’re serving tonight will fly out the door,” exclaims Bruch McIntosh, who helms the kitchen in Asheville.

“It’s gorgeous. Smoked tomato cream sauce, grilled corn succotash, lemon aioli. You’ve got three different notes on the plate there, and we try to hit that every time.”

Hitting the right notes, indeed. McIntosh and his team earn praise for quality and consistency, two of the most important factors for any restaurant, but especially so in foodie-centric Asheville.

“We try to get North Carolina fish whenever possible,” says McIntosh. “We look at what season is coming up, and that dictates the menu. We have some of the best fish in town. We’ve been buying from the same fish purveyor for more than 30 years, so they know what I want.”

The citrus notes in Juslyn’s new sauvignon blanc pair well with McIntosh’s seafood plates, especially, he notes, in the calamari and pan-seared fish entrées.

Sourcing locally extends to other ingredients, too. Local mushrooms and produce come from Franklin, NC. The creamy
grits in McIntosh’s shrimp and grits dish hail from a nearby purveyor in South Carolina. 

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Tracing Asheville's Roots

by Brad King

 Jun 19, 2018 at 1:00 PM

The long and enduring history of Country Club of Asheville has involved land purchases, gifts, leases, debt solutions, and “The Big Swap.” Today, the club is North Carolina’s oldest in continuous operation, and the second oldest in the South.

Golf's Early Days in Asheville

Neighboring farmers in West Asheville soon began to complain about the fox hunts causing damage to their property.
Noticing that the fox population was declining, the club decided to drop fox hunting in favor of golf ball hunting. A committee bored several holes in the terrain. The result? Golf became so popular that the same committee built a new five-hole course.

In 1896, the club changed its name to Swannanoa Golf and Country Club. The club moved its rudimentary golf course three times thereafter, each in search of a more convenient location to the city.

In late 1898, one of Asheville’s prominent citizens, George Willis Pack, whose wife Frances liked to play golf, leased to the club for $1 a year the land it needed to construct a more sophisticated golf facility — including a new clubhouse with showers, locker rooms, lounges, and game rooms — on the site just off Charlotte Street, north of downtown, near the present-day Omni Grove Park Inn.

In 1905, Swannanoa Golf and Country Club was renamed Asheville Country Club. Five years later, Asheville’s Grove
family helped hire Willie Park Jr., a golf pro and course designer from Musselburgh, Scotland, to take the existing nine holes, add nine more, and present a full 18-hole layout to the club. Park, along with his father, won a total of six Open Championships. They were rivals of Old Tom Morris and his son Tommy Jr., who together won a total of eight Opens.

In 1926, Donald Ross, the renowned Scotsman who moved to Pinehurst in 1900, completely redesigned the course, which then began playing host to the world’s best players. Soon after the original 1926 Ross design grew in, the likes of Harry Vardon and Ted Ray competed in an exhibition. The PGA’s Asheville Land of the Sky Open ran for 18 years (through 1951), with the legendary Ben Hogan winning three consecutive years from 1940 to 1942. Another legend, Bobby Jones, also came to Asheville and the Grove Park Inn to play the lower mountain golf course that he so enjoyed.

In addition, two years after Ross’s course opened, the nearby Lake View Park development built its own Ross-designed
layout, Beaver Lake Golf Club, where Country Club of Asheville members enjoyed playing privileges.

"The Big Swap"

In the 1930s, the club survived the Great Depression, but that did not ensure staying in the black. Fast-forward a
generation, when another golf-loving newcomer to Asheville stepped in to provide Country Club of Asheville its next big boost. Mitchell Wolfson — a multimedia magnate and horse breeder from Miami — arranged to have the country club sell its course to the Grove Park Inn. He used the profits to buy the Lake View course and build a new clubhouse, tennis courts, and pool.

This led to a 1976 event known as “The Big Swap,” when Grove Park Inn acquired the original golf course, while Country Club of Asheville moved to its current course at Beaver Lake. During this time, the club also changed its name from Asheville Country Club to Country Club of Asheville.

Raleigh’s McConnell Golf purchased the club in late 2014. Two years later, McConnell Golf spent $3.7 million on capital projects, including a major course renovation.

Asheville's Next Chapter

Ed Woeckener, 83, has been a member at Country Club of Asheville for nearly two decades. He has played more than
350 courses in 26 states — 100 in Florida alone — along with 13 other countries, including rounds with 37 golf-tour professionals. He is a member of the Donald Ross Society, the Golf Collectors Society, and the Society of Hickory Golfers, a distinguished consortium of avid golfers who play only with hickory shafted clubs.

“This club has an amazing history, and we’ve seen many changes in the past 18 years,” says Woeckener. “We are very
strong supporters of John McConnell. His entry here has been most appreciated and he’s done everything he’s said he would do.”

For much of 2016, Country Club of Asheville’s course was closed due to extensive restoration performed by Pinehurst-based golf course architect Richard Mandell, who oversaw numerous 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.

Today, after a long, storied — and occasionally confusing — history, Country Club of Asheville stands proudly as North Carolina’s oldest continuously running country club and the second oldest in the south. With a legacy like this, the future looks just as rich.

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Barber Shop

by Brad King

 Mar 22, 2018 at 1:00 PM

For The Country Club of Asheville tennis program, the past, present, and future are bright

Young Athletes abound at McConnell Golf Clubs. Lately, The Country Club of Asheville, in particular, has garnered recognition for its impact on junior tennis in the South. That’s thanks in large part to the efforts of its Director of Tennis, Bill Barber, but also to top-notch facilities.

When Barber came to CCA in 2000, he brought with him a wealth of world-class playing experience and a pedigree that included nearly three years on the ATP tour — where he was ranked in the top 250 in the world — four years playing collegiately at UCLA and a junior experience that once saw Bill ranked among the top 20 junior players in the U.S.

At CCA, Bill started building a junior tennis program from the ground up. He initiated both after-school and summer programs, and the structure was rigorous but lighthearted. “The path to success in junior tennis is a long one, so there has to be fun along the way,” Barber says. “We don’t expect every junior to be a top state tennis player but we want to provide them with the tools to get them there if they desire.”

His attitude is contagious. “Bill Barber combines his wealth of tennis knowledge and his non-stressful, but supportive teaching style,” says Barbie Haynes, a longtime CCA member and mother of three junior players. “It has encouraged a love of tennis in my children.”

Of course, a first-class pedigree thrives in an outstanding setting. CCA built its state-of-the-art indoor facility in 2005, allowing members to practice and play year round — and particularly helping propel the junior program to the next level. Eight lit Har Tru clay courts sit surrounded by tall pines. And a pair of deco turf courts — an identical surface and color as those at Flushing Meadows, where the world’s best compete every year at the U.S. Open — give CCA’s indoor tennis facility a big-time feel and playability.

“The junior tennis program is a big reason that we belong to CCA,” says Lee Anne Kelley. Her son, Ben, is a tennis team member at Presbyterian College, which she credits to “the coaching he received in the junior program.” It’s about more than collegiate success, though. “We have all formed lasting, lifelong friendships with the parents and juniors who have participated in tennis. Best of all, we are engrossed in a sport that we can all enjoy as a family.”

Indeed, more than a decade since the completion of CCA’s indoor facility, the club’s junior players have seen increasing success on both the junior and college circuit. CCA has produced one junior ranked No. 1 in the South (an eight-state region), six juniors ranked No. 1 in the state in their respective age divisions, one high school state championship boys team, two state runner-up high school girls teams, and three state high school individual champions.

Barber’s history as a junior champion makes his on-the-road wisdom all the more valuable to CCA’s junior standouts. “Bill and Spencer [Mai, Barber’s assistant professional] provide priceless leadership to the program,” says Anne Roegner, who has two tennis-playing sons, Ryan and Blake. “The program has given our boys confidence, ploys, and focus — skills that will continue to serve them for the rest of their playing lives.”

Currently, CCA has young men and women playing collegiate men’s and women’s tennis at UNC, UNC-Wilmington, Appalachian State, and Presbyterian College. Not to mention the numerous juniors playing club tennis at their various universities. “It is great to see all of those kids continue their tennis careers at the collegiate level and be able to benefit from athletic scholarships,” Barber says. “They worked incredibly hard for many years.”

A younger group of tennis players are carrying on the club’s tradition of excellence. Adrienne Haynes, 16, and Anne’s son Ryan Roegner, 15, are ranked as top players in the state and among the Top 75 players in the nation. Both have the potential to play at the collegiate level.

Mary Victoria Young, now 11, and Bill’s own son, 10-year-old Xander Barber, were both ranked No. 1 in the state for the 10-and-under division. Their achievement has set CCA junior records, setting a high bar for future players. “Only time will tell,” Barber says. “But with hard work and a lot of fun, anything is possible.” 

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Comfort Food

by Martha-Page Althaus

 Mar 19, 2018 at 1:44 PM

Country Club of Asheville provided warm meals this winter.

There's Strength in Numbers for McConnell Golf’s Footprints on the Green program. For a successful outreach, both members and staff come together to support local communities, and that’s exactly what happened last fall in Asheville, when members and staff joined forces for their first Footprints effort.

CCA sent nine volunteers to participate in a meal-prep initiative at ABCCM Steadfast House, a shelter for women and children that provides stability, education, and job training.

Debbie Ponder, the club’s membership and marketing director, was part of the group that spent the day in the kitchen at Steadfast House assembling more than a dozen freezer-ready chicken and rice casseroles. Residents at Steadfast House enjoyed the meals throughout the winter.

“After we finished prepping the casseroles, we had a Q&A with Steadfast House staff,” says Ponder. “We’re hoping to establish a meaningful relationship between the club and Steadfast. We’re located so close to each other, and we hope to be able to do more.”

Member Gail Miller helped with the effort after reading about it in CCA’s newsletter.

“We were spreading freezer pans all over the place and filling them up,” she says. “Big casserole dishes for the residents to pull out of the freezer all winter long.”

For Miller, along with the rest of CCA’s volunteers, the day was about more than just prepping meals.

“It was good exposure. I didn’t even know Steadfast House existed. As a group, we learned more about the community and what’s being offered to help.”

“After that day, we all agreed — we need to do this more,” says Ponder.

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Holding Court!

by Matt McConnell

 Mar 13, 2018 at 3:00 PM

Game, set, dinner!

Exhibition matches have long been a celebrated occasion across the tennis facilities of McConnell Golf; however starting last year, a new twist was added — members can enjoy great food, service, and entertainment right on the court.

“What can be better than dining under the stars while watching local collegiate and professional tennis players compete?” asks Kyle Thortsen, director of tennis operations. “These Dining on the Courts events are a night for the entire family to enjoy.”

This February, CCA hosted its second annual Grand Slam Social on their indoor tennis courts. The event featured a menu of seared tuna, beef sliders, and a batch of the official cocktail of the U.S. Open, the Honey Deuce.

For the entertainment, Ben Kelley (former CCA junior and recent graduate of Presbyterian College) and CCA Director of Tennis Bill Barber took on Henry Patten (UNC-Asheville’s No. 1 player) and Alix Theodossiou (a former CCA junior and recent graduate of UNC-Wilmington). Last year, Kelley, who is the top player in school history, helped his team win the Big South tournament and gain entry into the NCAA tournament for the first time. Meanwhile at UNCW, Theodossiou played the No. 3 spot her senior year and her team finished second in the Colonial Conference. Patten is currently ranked No. 32 in the NCAA men’s singles, the highest ranking ever for a UNCA player.

Both Patten and Theodossiou played incredibly well and despite Barber and Kelley putting up a strong fight, the young duo won 8-5. Following the doubles play, Patten and Kelley played an entertaining set of singles to finish off the evening’s entertainment. 

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Drop and Play

by Jamie Waggoner

 Mar 06, 2018 at 8:00 PM

Country Club of Asheville is a parent’s and child’s new best friend

The Country Club of Asheville has recently unveiled a “Drop and Play” program, which is a revised take on Kids Club.

Drop and Play is designed for club members who need a place to bring their young children on weekdays while participating in on-site leisure activities, running errands, or if they just need a short break.

“My almost three-year-old daughter loves Ms. Amy and Ms. Laine; she looks forward to going and does not want to leave.” says club member Hilary Fridman of the new program.

Laine Kovac is the Director of Activities & Wellness at Country Club of Asheville. Laine comes from an extensive background in childcare management. She has a broad knowledge of early childhood development and brings her experience of working in upscale preschools to cultivate and evolve the childcare programs at CCA.

Amy Boykin is the Youth Coordinator and spends one-on-one time with the children on a daily basis. Her love for the children is evident when you see her in action. She has a background in early childhood education and working with at-risk youth.

The goal of the program is to provide members a safe, nurturing, and educational environment for child care. The children participate not only in play, but educational activities. This drop-in early learning program will have a structured schedule and curriculum comparable to any other preschool program. The children will be engaged throughout their time here with activities such as art, reading, literacy, math, physical activity and music.

As Fridman shares, “[My daughter] comes home each time with crafts, many of which teach letters, shapes, and numbers. She also gets outdoor time, socialization, and plenty of imaginative play. I would not hesitate to recommend the program to anyone!”

Drop and Play  provides care up to two hours per day for members who are participating in on-site activities such as fitness classes, dining, massage therapy and golf. It is also available to parents who would like to drop their children off and head to errands or activities off-site.

“I can't say enough good things about the CCA Drop and Play," summarizes Hilary Fridman.

This program is just one more way Country Club of Asheville portrays  its commitment to members and the importance of family.

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

 

 

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