Welcome (Back) To The Waynesville Inn
Updated: Oct 4
"Please allow Me to reintroduce Myself..."
The Carolinas are an embarrassment of riches when it comes to both the sheer quantity of golf destinations and the quality of courses in which to play when you get there. We've played over 175 of them on either side of the state line, many of which you'd think would be on a 'best in state' list. However, due to the sheer quantity of quality, it's impossible to rank all of these "hidden gems" or "best kept secrets".
There are so many great courses, you can even cut them up by region (Coastal, Sandhills, Midlands, Piedmont, Blue Ridge, Smokies, etc.) and still produce a 'Top 25' from each section that would make many entire states jealous.
Then when you consider that a lot of the best golf resorts in the world - which take into account the entire experience of staying and playing - you've got another set of places that every golfer has on their own personal short lists of places to play.
Not everyone can drop the many hundreds of dollars it costs (per night and in most cases these days, per round of golf too) to stay & play at one of the 5-star resorts. It's a good thing for this crowd - of which we are firmly entrenched - there are lots of other incredible experiences out there for less cash, but not any less exciting!
As a couple guys who pride themselves on finding places just like this, allow us to (re)introduce you to The Waynesville Inn & Golf Club. We say 'reintroduce' because they've been around since 1926. We'd even been there to play maybe seven or eight years ago.
When we visited Waynesville that first time, it was a pretty outdated, run down hotel with a much too compact 27-hole course (on just 165 acres!) with entirely too many trees choking the life out of its very scenic property. We figured it had seen its best days and likely wouldn't be back.
It was certainly was not on anyone's places to play list. Most would have considered it to be a cheap local option, much less a golf destination.
Yet, in the summer of 2021, word made it's way around that a hospitality group out of South Carolina was purchasing the whole property - just 30 minutes West of Downtown Asheville. Their plans were to fix up the Inn and that they had retained Bobby Weed Golf Design to restore/reinvent the golf course. We took notice immediately.
We had grown to love Bobby Weed's golf courses very much over the past decade. His original design at The Olde Farm (Bristol, VA) is a consensus Top-2 course in Virginia and has been on every 'Best Modern Courses' list you'll find for the past twenty years. Weed's complete redo of Linville Ridge (Linville, NC) is an absolute thriller, while his firm's consulting work at the neighboring Linville GC and Grandfather Golf & CC speak to his ability to blend modern techniques with the delicacies of preserving classical or Golden Age architecture.
(Clockwise from top left of) Weed's work at The Olde Farm, Linville Ridge, Linville GC & Grandfather Golf & CC
So when Raines Co. (Florence/Charleston, SC) needed someone to restore the nine holes that Donald Ross designed back in the mid-1920s, Weed's services would most certainly be at the top of the short list of desired architects to handle the job.
As fate would have it, Bobby's wife Leslie, grew up just down the road from the course. They still own the generational family farm today. Upon hearing how the project took on a personal meaning for Weed beyond restoring a few Ross holes, it made Raines Co.'s looming decision a easy one.
Ok, it probably wasn't an easy decision. We can say, having visited the property a few times during the past couple of years - including just a few days ago as of this writing - it was clearly the right decision. If it wasn't much to write home about back then...
It sure is now!
Raines Co. completely updated every lodging option on property. We're not interior decorators, but we can tell you the charm of the old world style was retained while the modern conveniences were enhanced.
But that's not all...
They also moved the resort's pool to improve the infrastructure, parking and navigation around property. They've added a fitness center, created a new golf pro shop that doubles as the Inn's front desk, locker rooms, renovated the restaurants upstairs (The Grille) and downstairs (The Watershed), added multiple common areas and group spaces, built new cottages, and so much more!
How much more? Good question!
The centerpiece of The Waynesville Inn experience is the new Event Lawn (above) that was created in the intimate space that connects the Inn to the golf course. In addition to the off-the-charts ambiance and vibe it creates with its charm, it also doubles as the first tee (similar in cool factor to our favorite 'shared first tee/practice green' quirk)!
It's as cool for guests to enjoy during the day casually as it is for a evening retreat, event or wedding!
As if that weren't enough (no, we're not done), the cart path winds through the area to the turn shack, which is also flushed with its own covered seating area. What lies just beyond it however is the straw that stirs our drink! #ShortCourse
The five-hole 'Wedge Park' is an out-and-back, drop and hit design featuring small, undulating greens, seven grass-faced bunkers and a creek that runs to your left heading out and right on the return. It's a great representation of the conditions you'll face on the actual course, so a quick run through prior to the round can be a smart tune-up. Of course, a post-round pass through the Park to see who buys drinks at The Grille would also be a common use!
Around the corner from the Wedge Park and adjacent to the Inn lies an 18-hole Himalayan putting course. The course comes with the seemingly standard drink cupholder on each hole and is adorned with lanterns for night time play, like this:
Beyond that still is a short game area and a full scale practice range with grass and artificial teeing areas.
The Wedge Park, putting course and practice area are included with your stay and play package, along with overnight accommodations for two, breakfast at The Grille and of course, a round of golf for each of you.
Oh yeah, the actual golf course itself might be worth mentioning...
Weed's first task was to restore the Ross 9 (the original 'Carolina' loop which now will be your front nine) back to the original design intention. It's short in yardage by today's standards, but it would be a mistake to assume this valley floor layout lacks a challenge. The greens protect par, as do their surrounds.
Next, since the former course was too cramped, Weed was given free reign with the rest of the golf property to create the best nine holes he could for the Weed 9 (back). Most of the holes follow original corridors, though a few green sites may have changed, some fairways were doubled up, yet all of them play and look far different (in a massively good way!) than they did previously.
Playing this course allows each player the chance to experience a progression of the last 100 years of golf architecture in about four hours. You'll begin with a Donald Ross Golden Age design, complete with green-to-tee fringe cut transitions and sloping greens. Weed then winds you up the mountain with his modern take on old school elements, such as the connected fairways and billowing grassed-faced pot bunkers, before wowing you on the home stretch.
The 17th (above) is a long, majestic par-3 that you'd swear Weed's mentor, Pete Dye, designed himself. It's as beautiful to look at as it is demanding a late-round test. After putting out on the penultimate hole and one final walk from green to tee through the fringe, the home hole brings you back down the other side of the shared double fairway on the right, a glimmering creek all the way on the left with the Inn's signature orangish roof welcoming you back.
It's as memorable a finish to cap off a dramatic round as you'll find in these here hills!
What's the price for all of that you ask? We are pleased to convey to you that all of that can be yours for under $250 per person! That's right, the starting rate, including taxes and fees, is $493.61. That's for a weeknight during the peak fall season (if you haven't been to the NC mountains in the Fall, you haven't really experienced Fall before!). If you go Penthouse (which is available BTW) or stay on a weekend, it'll be more. If you go in at a non-peak time, it'll be less. If you've read this far though, we don't really need to explain that, right? You know how golf works.
To recap, that's a room for two, a round of golf for each of you, breakfast at The Grille, use of the Wedge Park, putting course, golf practice area, pool, fitness center and endless great times!
Split two ways, that amounts to $246.81, rounding up to the nearest cent. Trust us when we say, it is...
Worth. Every. Penny.
It seems unlikely you'll need more convincing, but we submit to the court of public opinion exhibits A through ZZZ.
Boots on the Ground
Around The Inn & Grounds
The Waynesville Inn & Golf Club is classified as 'Resort Private', meaning you can play it if you're a member or if you're a resort guest. Since golf memberships are already on a waitlist, that means you'd better get there soon before the secret starts to break. This place is only going to get better! For a course that opened in June, for it to play the way it did already was a remarkable feat!
For two guys that have a goal to play 1000 courses, it's rare we play the same course - especially ones we have to travel to - more than once. However, when it's this good, you make exceptions! Is the fact that we are already looking forward to another visit is a sign that WIGC is going to be the next big thing?
That's not for us to decide - we leave that to you!
But, if you need a 3rd and/or a 4th?
Your Golf Crusade