By David Droschak
Methodist men’s golf coach Steve Conley has fond memories of the last time his team was on the big stage at Grandover. Sure, his team won the 2015 Division III national championship at the Greensboro resort, but the title and trophy presentation was only half the experience.
“The staff at Grandover really wants us there and they are always very accommodating, and that means a lot to us,” Conley said as the highly-ranked Monarchs will join Guilford, Greensboro College and others in mid May for the fourth Division III men’s golf national championship here since 2011.
Since opening in March 1996 behind the vision of Joseph Koury, Grandover has been one of the state’s top boutique hotels and has stayed true to its founder’s desire to put customer service above the beyond anything else.
Koury built an empire over 40 years that included the Four Seasons Town Centre, the Holiday Inn Four Seasons, the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center, thousands of homes, hundreds of apartments, six shopping centers and two golf courses at Grandover. He passed away in 1998.
“I was privileged to have known Mr. Koury, and his goal and dream of Grandover was to create an atmosphere of home and resort – a place where folks can come and enjoy a couples getaway or corporate meeting, and he built two fantastic golf courses for people to come and enjoy – really for all of us to enjoy,” said director of golf Jonathan York. “That same philosophy thrives today. Over the years we’ve been steadfast in providing a quality product on the golf courses and staffing.”
York was born and raised in Greensboro, went to high school and college here, and is an anomaly in the golf business. He has been at Grandover since Day 1, having just celebrated his 22nd anniversary at the resort.
“Why would I want to go anywhere else? Look what I have here,” he said. “I am blessed. It is just a tremendous organization to work for. Come to work and then go home and spend time with your family. I am very happy here.
“And I am proud of the longevity of the staff here with me. Our head golf professional has been here for 20 years. Him and I together for two decades – that just doesn’t happen much. And our merchandise buyer has been here 18-19 years. We all know our roles and we manage them with respect. That is what keeps us going.”
The more than 230 Division III players will tee it up on the West and East courses May 15-18. The East Course is coming off a green renovation project that York said was needed after two decades, switching from bent to Bermuda grass.
“I love Grandover Resort for several reasons,” Conley said. “First, it is in North Carolina, which usually has nice weather in May. Second, both courses are good layouts, especially the East course where we play three of the four rounds. Third, the practice facility and the course conditions are excellent.”
The East Course is a beast from the tips at 7,250 yards, placing a premium on driving the ball well and in the fairway. The par-5 finishing hole is one of the more picturesque in the state, with a large lake with a waterfall guarding approach shots.
York says the greens on the East Course are what he calls “a little more vertical. So, if you miss the green you are going off into some catch areas or bunkers. So, getting up-and-down on the East Course is a little more challenging.”
The West Course is more lenient off the tee, a little more of a placement course, and the greens aren’t quite as severe.
“We love to hear that argument, about which course is better,” York said. “We have two fantastic products out here.”
In addition to the greens project recently completed on the East Course, Grandover has also refurbished the 247 rooms in its intimate hotel, and updated its spa. York says several other yet unannounced projects are also in the pipeline.
And because of its close proximity to Sedgefield Country Club (2 miles away) Grandover has forged a great relationship with the Wyndham Championship each summer.
“It’s nice to have a huge, first-class resort in the back yard of the Wyndham Championship,” said longtime tournament director Mark Brazil. “Wyndham Worldwide takes out a large part of the hotel for their guests, a lot of the players stay there, some of our bigger sponsors stay there, and we host two youth golf clinics on the practice range so logistically, it’s very helpful.”
The Wyndham Championship stages its pro-am pairings party at Grandover on Tuesday night of tournament week, and Wyndham also hosts a nice dinner at Grandover for their guests. “It’s full service – it’s also a great place people can go after the tournament to socialize at the lobby bar. It’s definitely helpful to have it so close to the Wyndham Championship,” Brazil said.
The Grandover exit is right off Interstate 40-85, about an hour drive from the booming western Wake County towns of Apex and Cary, and less than an hour and a half from Charlotte.
“The overall guest experience is No. 1,” York says. “When you show up here we want you to have a memorable experience and enjoy your night in the hotel, your dinner in the restaurant and your golf or spa treatment. It’s about the experience.
“We love showing the place off,” he added. “We like to tell people in North Carolina that they have a beautiful resort right in their backyard.”