Black Mountain golf course keeps them coming back

Rare par 6 is just one of the features that makes the course popular

Fred McCormick

It is a quiet Thursday morning as Jerry Dotson pulls his ball out of the cup on the 16th hole at Black Mountain Golf Course. He knows precisely what lies ahead.

At 747 yards, the 17th hole is a par 6 behemoth that has attracted both local and out-of-town golfers to the course for over 50 years.

But Dotson, like most who play the course regularly, tees up on the along the white markers, which the sign says are situated 692 yards away from the cup.

"Even though I'm 70-years-old I still play from the white tees," he said.

Jerry Dotson tees off on the 17th hole at the Black Mountain Golf Course on June 23.

This year Dotson purchased an annual pass at the golf course, on which he plays up to three times a week. And he is quite familiar with the course's most famous hole.

"I usually double bogey it. And the reason isn't so much the length, because they give you an extra shot with the par 6," he says while pointing to an outcropping of trees in front of the tee box. "That's a pretty narrow gap to hit into and if you miss that gap you will end up behind some trees and you'll have to punch out to get a good shot."

Dotson walks the course when the plays in the mornings because he says it's "a good way to exercise." But he represents one of what operations manager Brent Miller says can be as many as 130-140 being played on the course this summer on any given day.

"Last year we averaged about 115 rounds (per day), so we're definitely up," he said. "What I've seen more than anything is a lot of public play, as opposed to member play, which we've had a lot of in the past."

The course's ability to draw more people this year is due in large part to the shape that it is in, according to Miller. And that same factor is what will continue to bring people back.

"If people have a good experience when they come out, then they're likely to come back," he said. "Also, we have a competitive rate

Dotson, who comes to the course from the Reynolds community in Asheville, agrees.

"I played Asheville Municipal (Golf Course) for a long time and I thought about getting a membership there," he said. "But this course is a great course for the price."

Former Black Mountain mayor Carl Bartlett, who has played on the course since it was only nine holes, thinks that the course one of the things that makes the town special.

"Not many municipalities our size have their own golf course," he said. "You know, people always talk about quality of life and I think that the course is something that contributes to our quality of place here."

The front nine, which was built in the early 1930s, was designed by Donald Ross, who designed hundreds of courses, including Pinehurst No. 2 at the Pinehurst Resort.

Bartlett, who began caddying on the Black Mountain course when he was in the sixth grade, is also quite familiar with the 17th hole., which came along in 1964 when the back nine was completed.

"At the time it was built it was the longest hole in the United States," he said. "And it was advertised as such. A lot of folks would come from out of the area to play it, and they still do, because they've never heard of anything like it."

At least one person that has heard of the course is former President of the United States Bill Clinton. Bartlett was introduced to the 42nd president when he was still the mayor of Black Mountain.

"I was introduced as the Mayor of Black Mountain and I told him 'Mr. President, I know you like to play golf and we have a course that has a hole that's 747 yards,'" Bartlett said. "He hugged me and said 'My God, is it a par 10?'"

Jerry Dotson chips onto the green during a morning round.
Jerry Dotson already knows what strategy he will employ on the next hole as he hits a chip shot on 16.