Aside from their cloying cuteness, the only weapon Care Bears — those cuddly cloud-dwelling teddies — have is a light beam that emanates from their tummy. If you spot a bear cub on Mountain Air, you may be forgiven for momentarily envisioning a winged golf ball on its belly and thinking you’ve gotten those Sasquatch-hunting nuts beat, having just encountered a real life Care Bear. It takes a couple self-slaps to make sure you're not dreaming but actually playing a course that, at times, literally appears to be floating in the clouds.
Adorable baby deer scamper across fairways batting their Bambi lashes. The 6,794-foot peak of Mount Mitchell pierces the eastern horizon and this high altitude serenity-inducer is replete with spots where you can see for miles and miles, including the cliffside green on No. 8 where you can indulge in a 100-click eyeful of gorgeous countryside.
A quarter of this club’s members are pilots. What draws the aviators to this scenic Scott Pool design? An airstrip bisects the front nine and there’s even a swanky pad to park your Cessna right by the cart path. At Mountain Air you can go from wheels down to skying one on the first tee box in 10 minutes flat.
At dinner at Orville & Wilbur's Bar and Grill, Greg Havemeier, a VP of an insurance company out of Florida describes the landing protocol. With no control tower, incoming planes radio the pro shop before they touch down: “Mountain Air traffic, this is Skylane 412 Golf Hotel…eight miles to the south inbound 32 for a full stop.” The flyboy skill-set required to make a mountain landing can also transfer to your golf game. “There’s not a lot of margin for error. You want to make sure everything is lined up on your approach and here on a lot of the holes you have to make sure you’re lined up the same way because if you hit that ball wrong you’re in the woods,” adds Havemeier. While Mountain Air is private, if you rent a condo or home, the owner can transfer membership privileges allowing for access to the course for a fee.
The first act may feel garden variety, but Mt. Mitchell Golf Club’s majestic grandeur takes centre stage on the back nine as you venture deeper into the woods, more than justifying its 4.5 star Golf Digest rating.
A couple of avid fisherman in my foursome were enamoured with the trout-stocked creek that burbles alongside many a fairway. Stray shots provided them the excuse to location scout for perfect casting spots. While golfishing is frowned upon mid-round, when the course is not in use in the evening, anglers can catch-and-release to their heart’s delight. Feeding the fish is encouraged all day and the snack area under the Pro Shop will even provide you a bag of pellets, though trout will also fight their finned friends for bits of bread.
A rolling 6,720 yard, par-70 grand old dame, GPI which has hosted 10 presidents from Taft to Obama dates back to the turn of the 20th century. In 1926, fairway sculptor extraordinaire Donald Ross, one of the OG’s in the golf course architecture game, came in and gave it a complete makeover.
Plaques along the course tell the tale of this vaunted track. “His greens contain subtle contours to bedevil the player,” forewarns a snippet culled from Golf, As It Was Meant To Be Played on the first hole. A fortuitous chip shot left me an easy tap in but those words certainly did prove hauntingly accurate as my round progressed. I encountered a flurry of putting surfaces that proved more treacherous than meets the eye. Perhaps Ross took some design cues from the curvy red clay roof that tops the Inn.