I was off work for the entire week after Christmas, so why not play some golf?
Probably my favorite course in the area is River Ridge Golf Club. It’s in consistently great shape — even in the offseason like this late December Wednesday — and is always reasonably priced. I met up with a buddy of mine and we each got 18 with a cart for $38 on GolfNow.
It was an unseasonably warm day — high 50s, low 60s — with a little bit of wind. It was also unseasonably crowded. I guess everyone had enough of family time and decided to get the hell out of the house.
Because it was so crowded, my friend and I got paired with a father-son duo. Normally these forced pairings can be hit or miss, but they were great to play with. The son, a State student, was all business and predictably kicked both of our asses. My friend is a pretty good player, and as I documented in my first “Duffin” article, I am not. When he hit a bad shot, he pushed an approach shot 5 yards right of the green. When I hit a bad shot, it’s a skulled 56-degree sand wedge that airmailed the green by 75 yards like a errant cruise missile. I salute said father and son for putting up with my disgraceful play.
Pound for pound, River Ridge is one of the best courses you can play around here for the money. Though I should probably play from the ladies tees or the 150 stakes, I usually attempt the blues, which gives you a 6,200 yard track. It’s a very well-designed course, with a lot of elevation changes and challenging shots. I really like the 18th, a Par 5 with an elevated tee box that makes for a fun drive.
I’m a sucker for elevation changes. My all-time favorite course — which I just played this past summer for the first time — is the Highland Course at Primland Resort (If you have ton of money to spend and happen to find yourself in Meadows of Dan, VA, check it out). It’s an immaculate mountain course. Wake County is a far cry from the Blue Ridge Mountains, but River Ridge packs in plenty of elevation changes throughout the course.
If you’re not so great, you’ll probably have a tough time on this course. It’s not tricked up or anything, but it does place a premium on accuracy. There is water, ravines and other junk to get lost in. You can also get into trouble off the tee if you try to smash a driver on every hole. It’s definitely a thinking man’s course that requires you to be strategic. Case in point, the signature 5th hole and the 6th hole. Back-to-back fun that usually doesn’t bode well for my game.
Usually I bring my F game to River Ridge, but I played pretty well on the front. I even went par-birdie on 8 and 9 to lull myself into a false sense of confidence. I followed that up with 4 straight triple bogeys on 10-13. I think I lost about 6 or 7 balls, too.
Regardless, it was still a great way to spend a Wednesday afternoon. River Ridge is a great course and well worth your consideration if you haven’t been out there.
It’s not that far away, either — only about 20 minutes form downtown out in the direction of Clayton. Enjoy!