After 15 years at Asheboro Country Club, Harold “Boots” Jordan notices when something is abnormal. Take, for instance, these ducks.
There are three of them on a small pond on No. 5. Jordan, driving the hole in reverse, sees them from the fairway as he pulls his cart down the hill toward the tee. Then, just as he reaches bottom, one of the ducks goes under.
Jordan, the director of golf, stops immediately to check on the wildlife. He waits. He waits. He waits.
“Ducks can’t swim under water that long,” Jordan says, waiting some more. “I’ve never seen that before. That was a full-sized duck. A turtle must’ve pulled it down. Wow.”
The other two ducks remain on the pond. The duck never resurfaces.
Not long ago, Asheboro Country Club, which Jordan grew up on and loves dearly, was a bit like the first duck. It went under in early 2011 when the bank foreclosed on the previous ownership group, Carolina Fairways LLC. In April, the bank put Carolinas Golf Group LLC in charge. But six months later, the bank decided to put the club up for auction. Within a few hours, the carts were gone, wedding receptions were canceled, and the club’s future appeared bleak.
But in came Warrior Golf Equities, a California-based company that believes it found a treasure right here in rural Randolph County. Warrior Golf bought the public course for significantly less than its $2.6 million tax value. Then, the company spent the winter pouring more than $200,000 into improving the property. It built a new maintenance shed, cart barn and pump system for irrigation. It poured money into the greens and turned them back into some of the finest in the Piedmont. And Asheboro Country Club reopened April 1, and according to Jordan, it is better than ever.
If that is true, and if Asheboro Country Club takes back off, Warrior Golf and owner Brendan Flaherty will reap the rewards of a good investment, and they will be credited with the turnabout. But it is, truly, the course that saved itself.
Some courses will go under for good, like the duck. That’s the fact. There are too many out there, too few golfers.
But the reason Asheboro Country Club probably will stay up is it’s simply an irresistible piece of land.
It’s one of the most appealing courses in the Triad. A spring-fed lake in the middle of the course plays as a backdrop, at least in some way, to five different holes. The 13th hole plays to a peninsula green, which may soon become an island green, Jordan said of the future plans.
Hole No. 15 might be one of the most stunning around, with a teebox on the top of the hill, and a view of Caraway Mountain off in the distance. The hole rolls downhill 418 yards to a green that’s bordered on the right side by an edge of the lake.
It’s a course with personality, too. On the scorecard, all of the holes are named, like the 15th — Tranquility — for its beauty.
The 155-yard 10th hole, that’s all lake in between tee and green, is called Jeopardy.
The third hole, also a par 3, is said to look like Augusta National in the spring, with azaleas blooming behind the green. It’s called the Road Hole. And No. 17 is one of Jordan’s favorite places. He says he remembers a player going to the 17th tee 3-under-par on the day, hitting a shot onto the green and facing a birdie putt. But the putt was too hard. It took off down the backslope and off the green, managing to reach the cart path, and then into the lake. The guy made triple-bogey and was no longer under par for the day.
That hole is named Purgatory.
There are, undoubtedly, countless stories from countless people about this course and club, which has been around for more than 60 years. It started as a nine-hole course, and on the one side of the lake was a beach. People still tell stories of coming to the club to swim and sunbathe. The club built its second nine holes in the 1970s. When that happened, it switched all of its front nine holes around.
When Warrior Golf came in last year, the company changed those front nine holes back to the original plan.
“A lot of the older people were glad to see it come back,” Jordan says. “It took them back to yesteryear.”
Jordan remembers his mom dropping him off at the course to work in the clubhouse when he was a boy. Then, as an adult, he worked outside of the golf industry for several years, before becoming a teaching pro in Durham, then coming home to Asheboro Country Club in the 1990s. He tried to retire in 2003, but he immediately came back to the club to help it.
“It has been an uphill battle ever since I came back,” Jordan says.
But he has faith now. Warrior Golf is a new mover in the golf industry. Owner Flaherty got into the industry by building a business for golf equipment, Warrior Custom Golf. That business was successful enough that in recent years, he opened the Warrior Golf Equities LLC, and with some new investors, began buying golf courses. Asheboro was the ninth course Warrior Golf has purchased. Most of the acquisitions are courses that are in financial trouble. But Asheboro isn’t just like any other.
Case in point: Although the course already opened without much publicity, the grand opening event is scheduled for July 7. Also that day, Flaherty will have his mother’s 100th birthday party at the club. And Eddie Money will perform.
The club is attempting to attract new members in every way. The current rate for a membership is $99 a month, with a $250 initiation fee. If you buy the whole year up front, the club will waive a month’s dues and the initiation fee. Also, golfers receive Warrior Golf equipment such as clubs and balls for signing up.
Yes, there’s excitement around Asheboro Country Club again.
Jordan, at 71, says he’s as excited as he has been in 15 years. After the incident with the duck, he pulls his cart back up the fairway and past No. 7. This green was so bad last year, he says, he had to set up a temporary green. The green was dead. But now, with more money for upkeep, it’s back. Jordan’s son, Dan, is now the greens superintendent.
Elsewhere, several trees along the main lake have been removed to add to better views of the water. And most of the brush on the course is being cleared, to allow people to see more of the landscape.
“They’re in a position to take the club back to what it used to be,” Jordan says of Warrior Golf and the future. “And at one time, I would’ve put the club up against anybody.”