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Making the final, winding 10-mile trek up U.S. 21 to Roaring Gap’s elevation of 3,000-plus feet, there is a noticeable change not only in temperature — typically about 10-15 breezy degrees cooler than below — but also the fast- paced, big city distractions that tend to evaporate as the colors of the surrounding hills start to explode. “It’s a different way of life,” said High


Meadows general manager Mark Updike. “It’s more emotions than anything you can put a finger on.” If members and guests ever are


inclined to depart their developments, Stone Mountain is just a stone throw away. River tubing or kayaking is not far; or downtown Sparta and Elkin, as well as well-maintained mountain roads for motorcycling or casual drives. A per- centage of the local golf club members are full-time residents, a percentage are from the Deep South and Florida, who annually move to the area from around May through November, while arguably the largest percentage are weekenders who work and primarily live in bigger cities nearby. “We call it a third, a third, a third,”


Updike said. On the other side of the coin, out of


North Carolina’s 100 counties, Allegheny County typically ranks annually as the poorest or second to last. Te impact of Roaring Gap, High Meadows and Olde Beau, and their members, guests and employees is immense, not only in raising the Allegheny County’s tax base, but also by giving back throughout the community. “We are proud to be part of Allegheny


County,” Updike said. “It’s not just about the big money; it’s the little things we’re trying to do to make the county better. (All three clubs) are putting their hands out where we’re supposed to.”


route into a major thoroughfare known as the “Lakes-to-Florida Highway,” connect- ing motorists between the Great Lakes region in Ohio and southern destinations along the east coast of Florida. Tat was around the time that a handful of Winston-Salem’s most prominent busi- nessmen finalized long-bandied plans to develop a private vacation community in the area — eventually naming the relaxing gathering spot for their friends and fam- ilies in an invigorating mountain climate “Roaring Gap,” in honor of the mighty roar the wind produced as it passed through the surrounding peaks. To serve as the club’s first president,


the group hired Leonard Tuſts, second- generation scion of the Massachusetts family that founded and operated the rela- tively new and highly successful Pinehurst Resort in the state’s Sandhills region. Tuſts knew he could market Roaring Gap as an attractive resort enticement for his mostly Yankee Pinehurst clientele who had tired of the trip back north every summer. So Tuſts commissioned the most famous and prolific golf course architect in the world, Donald Ross, to design a mountain masterpiece 3,700 feet above sea level that Tuſts promoted as the “Pinehurst of the Hills.” One North Carolina newspaper de-


scribed Roaring Gap as having “the finest mountain layout in America.” Likewise, the Elkin Tribune proclaimed that Roaring Gap featured the highest golf course, save one, east of the Rockies at the time, and that there were no other courses from which golfers could see stunning panora- mas that spread out to the horizon in every direction. According to the Pinehurt Outlook: “One could see 125 miles across the Old North State to King’s Mountain on the South Carolina state line.” In addition to its celebrated Ross-de-


ROARING GAP: ENJOYING ADDED PRESTIGE FOLLOWING RECENT GOLF COURSE RESORATION


Back in the late 1920s, the automobile


ride to the area called Laurel Branch for the creek that fed its centerpiece, Lake Louise — 67 acres of beautiful, clear water — took longer than today, but was equally smooth and enjoyable. Earlier in the decade, the roads had been paved during an era of rapid progress aſter U.S. 21 crested the mountain. Te direct route came by way of some of the most pro- gressive centers of industry in the state at the time, which specialized in furniture, tobacco and textile manufacturing. Te paved roads gradually turned the


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signed golf course, guests of the 55-room Graystone Inn at Roaring Gap enjoyed swimming, canoeing and other water sports around


Lake Louise, which was stocked annually with Loch Levin and Brook trout for sport fishing. Horseback riding was a big draw as bridal paths and trails traversed the en- tire 1,200-acre tract. Other activities, such as tennis, trap shooting, archery, polo and fox hunting, helped secure Roaring Gap’s rightful place among America’s preemi- nent summer sports paradises. Fast forward to the turn of the 21st cen-


tury, when Roaring Gap hired Kris Spence — a golf course restoration specialist from Greensboro — to help reclaim Ross’s ar- chitectural pedigree at Roaring Gap, while


The High Meadows clubhouse is perched beautifully overlooking the rolling fairways of the course.


TRIAD GOLF TODAY • JULY 2016 7


also updating the design for modern play. Roaring Gap’s decade-long restoration project recaptured the original size, shape and dimension of nearly every bunker, tee and green on the golf course. Today, there are many distinctive golf


holes that help make Roaring Gap an unforgettably unique golf experience including the iconic sixth, which sports a volcano-shaped green on steroids. In addi- tion, the 17th green is perched dramatical- ly on a 2,550-foot bluff with 75-mile views across the heart of the Piedmont foothills.


Rare architectural features also populate the golf course such as punchbowl greens, merging fairways, reclaimed cross-bun- kers and bunker-less par-5s. At 6,450 yards, what it lacks in length, Roaring Gap makes up tenfold in charm and character. Following Spence’s immaculate resto-


ration of the Ross classic, Roaring Gap de- buted in Golfweek magazine’s 2016 list of the “Top 100 Classic Designs in America.” Roaring Gap also jumped to No. 12 in the state in the new “Top 100 Golf Courses”


continued on page 10


The dining room in the newly remodeled High Meadows makes the experience inside as beautiful as that on the outside.


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