Bright’s Creek Golf Club is a hidden deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Mill Spring, North Carolina. The club has one of the most enjoyable Fazio designed golf courses that I have played. A number of mountain streams meander through the course, which sits in a valley, surrounded by impressive mountain ridges. Every direction you look during the round presents a breathtaking view – just check out these photos! I have now played just under ten rounds at Bright’s Creek, and I like the course more with every round.
Bright’s Creek has struggled financially since its opening in 2006. The same group that created Forest Creek (click for review) took on the project, but ran into problems in 2008. When I first visited Bright’s Creek, there were buckets of brand new Pro-V1 range balls, free food at the turn, and every luxury one could imagine. However, something didn’t feel right… there were only two homes in this “development” with a rumored 1,300 lots available. Two owners later, the course is apparently in better fiscal shape, but the number of homes I saw on the course during latest my round has only grown to six. Although I’m sure the owners would love more houses on the course, the lack of homes adds to the rural escape feel of the place. The club is VERY rural, and aims at the “second club” market. Unfortunately, the number of people joining a second club is pretty darn small in a downturned economy. Clubhouse rooms and separate lodges are offered at the course for those spending the night.
Tom Fazio has received scrutiny from architecture purists in the past for creating “cookie cutter” designs – “seen one Fazio design, seen ’em all.” While Bright’s Creek is recognizably a Fazio design, especially when looking at the bunkering, the course is unique. It makes great use of the terrain, and stands out from other Fazio designs that I have played. The additional par 3 19th hole is a feature that I have seen at other Fazio courses, but Bright Creek’s “Hog Hole” is particularly fun, skipping balls across the lake. The club also had a tour staff bag full of wedges and balls next to the back porch of the clubhouse, allowing members and guests to hit balls from way above and behind the green down to the putting surface. I imagine a few closest to the pin bets have taken place off the bar’s back porch.
The first hole at Bright’s Creek has a demanding tee shot. The dogleg left par 5 works uphill to a protected green with a hazard running down the entire right side of the hole.
The dogleg right second hole sets up perfectly for a fade off the tee. 255 yards will carry the bunker on the right, leaving a straightforward downhill shot into the green.
The third hole has plagued me since my first round at Bright’s Creek. Left is the obvious miss, but I always seemed to leak one right. I hit a 5 iron this latest round, and got my revenge sinking a 15 foot birdie putt.
The visually stunning fifth hole features one of the only homes on the course. The green sits just behind the small red tree seen on the right side of the fairway. Due to the uphill nature of the hole, the approach plays 1-2 clubs more than the yardage to a very sloping green.
The par 3s are no slouch at Bright’s Creek… This hole requires a solid iron to reach the putting surface. However, the green is large and receptive. I’m glad I wasn’t playing all the way back at 234 yards!
The dogleg left par 4 seventh has a very shallow green with a steep grassy bank behind the putting surface. This photo was taken from the inner bend of the dogleg. The mountains provide a very nice backdrop for this approach shot.
The ninth hole is the number one handicap hole on the course. A wide landing area in the fairway narrows towards an elevated green with runoff areas and bunkers on all sides. A back right pin is particularly tough here.
Bigger hitters can reach the stream that runs across the fairway about 300 yards downhill from the tee. The smart play is a 3 wood or hybrid at the right bunkers, opening up the green for a short iron approach.
This hole initially seems simple, but tall grass on the left, with woods and a stream on the right, subconsciously bother you while on the tee. The green is narrow and long, with a large false front. Look at the left edge of the photo – can you see where developers blasted out rock to make way for the cart path? Serious investment!
The thirteenth is the first par 3 on the course under 200 yards. The green looks shallow from the tee, but is actually very large. The putting surface slopes from left to right, pushing balls away from the pin as you see it above.
The double dogleg fourteenth works left to right off the tee, crosses a creek (seen in the photo above), and moves back to the left. It would take a big draw to reach this green in two.
Sixteen is a very memorable hole on the course. It plays almost straight downhill, and requires serious accuracy from the exposed tee box on a windy day. The back right pin seen in this photo is on a little shelf, adding another layer of challenge.
The seventeenth requires an accurate tee shot. The tree on the left hand side of the fairway forces you to aim at a fairway bunker on the right. Bigger hitters can carry the tree on the left.
There are a number of strategies to play the eighteenth hole at Bright’s Creek. It is 300 yards to reach the creek from the tee. From the ideal landing area, it is 245+ yards to the green for those bold enough to go for it. The safest play is to lay up, leaving a wedge into the heavily protected and sloping green.
The fun 19th hole is set up for those wanting to practice short irons, chip around the green, or try to skip balls over the lake. The clubhouse is on the hill to the right, so you can imagine the fun of hitting balls from the porch down to this green.If you have the opportunity to go play Bright’s Creek, don’t turn it down! The club is hidden in the mountains, and there seem to never be many people playing. The clubhouse and lodges are beautiful, and if you can manage to stay a night or two, I would certainly go for it! Whether practicing on the gorgeous range or messing around on the Hog Hole with your buddies, you’ll have a blast.