New Arrivals

by Casey Griffith

 Mar 22, 2019 at 5:00 PM

Enjoy two new exclusive wines from Napa Valley’s Juslyn Vineyards.

Following the success of McConnell Golf's first exclusive wine offering, two new vintages arrive in March. Juslyn Vineyard’s incredible 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon received 97 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and sold out in six months — and McConnell Golf members will now enjoy the very last of it. Additionally, an exciting 2018 Sauvignon Blanc is available; Juslyn’s first from Sonoma County.

We caught up with Juslyn Vineyard’s Partner and General Manager Stephanie DeMasi for details on the new pours.

Casey Griffith: We’re thrilled to be extending our partnership with Juslyn! Tell me more about the new wines.

Stephanie Demasi: The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is sensational. It’s a true Cabernet Sauvignon off of Spring Mountain. To have a wine shine so bright in its youth is a rare achievement of nature. The 2018 Sauvignon Blanc was sourced from the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County. The fruit is exotic and fresh, less mellow than the riper Napa Sauvignon Blanc we are accustomed to producing. The wine is exhilarating and versatile.

CG: As a relatively novice wine drinker, what will I like about the wines?

SD: Both of these wines are incredibly approachable — just pop and pour! They offer a bounty of fruit and great acidity, which allows them to linger on the tongue for some time.

CG: I’m already thinking about my favorite menu items to try these with. Can you offer pairing suggestions?

SD: A mixed grill of white and red meat can take on the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. It can also welcome pesto pasta salad with pecorino and artichokes — break all the rules! I love pairing curry with the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc — super zippy and fresh — or try it with arugula salad and citrus, poached salmon with lemon and roasted potatoes, or a cheese course with dried fruit.

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Work & Play at The Mill

by Matt McConnell

 Mar 22, 2019 at 1:30 PM

This company’s annual retreat mixes business with pleasure at Musgrove Mill.

Musgrove Mill Golf Club is widely regarded as the perfect place for a corporate retreat. McConnell Golf member Matt Alexander knows from experience — he brings around 25 associates from Charlotte-based Eaton Corporation to Musgrove Mill for an annual three-day retreat. For the past couple of years, employees and business partners travel from all over the continent — from California, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Mexico — to meet at Musgrove Mill.

The travel is worth it. From the moment Alexander’s group drives through the secluded woodlands to the gated entrance, where cart attendants wait at the front of the clubhouse to escort the group to their cabins, everyone begins to exhale.

Jeff Tallman, director of golf, coordinates the group’s itinerary. The next three days are spent relaxing on the property without the group having to move their cars. The retreat is a mix of work and play. Each cabin is complete with everything they need, from A/V equipment to golf carts. One of the best amenities? The accommodating hospitality of Musgrove Mill’s staff.

“Jeff and his team provide everything that we could possibly need,” says Alexander. “We have held meetings in many nice locations, but we always return to Musgrove because of the personal attention that Jeff and his team give us. They make everyone feel at home.”

Food is prepared in the clubhouse and delivered to the cabins where the business meetings are conducted on the first day of the retreat. Following their work, the team breaks for cocktails and dinner in the cottage. With a pool table, fireplace, poker set, and satellite television, the cottages provide entertainment while everyone enjoys each other’s company.

Day two begins with breakfast and meetings in the Lee Cottage. Then the real fun begins — in the afternoon, many in the group tee off on the challenging Arnold Palmer-designed course. Group photos are taken along the course, especially on the elevated tee box of the fifth hole and the signature seventh hole along the Enoree River. The non-golfers go nearby to shoot sporting clays at the wildlife refuge of the Clinton House.

Later, the entire group reconvenes for drinks and dinner at the Lee Cottage. Dinner is served on the back deck, against the backdrop of the scenic wilderness of Upstate South Carolina.

“The fact that we can all spend three days together in a great location, away from the office, and get some work done makes Musgrove Mill a great business retreat,” says Alexander.

“Add in the beautiful golf course and the way Jeff and his staff have everything coordinated, and it makes this easy and enjoyable. Our associates request we return every year.


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Behind the Greens

by Michael Shoun

 Mar 22, 2019 at 1:32 AM

Bentgrass or Bermuda?

Several McConnell courses have converted from bentgrass to dwarf Bermuda grass greens. If grown and maintained in the right circumstances, dwarf Bermuda greens offer a better-quality putting surface and consistent greens speed for more days with less inputs, such as fertilizers, growth regulators, and water. Factors to consider when making the switch include course location, history of the current grass, weather, number of quality play days, play trends, water quality, amount of sun and shade, and the severity of the greens’ surface. So why don’t we convert all of our greens to Bermuda grass?

Most of our courses experience hot summers and cold winters, for which there is no perfect grass. Many courses across the Carolinas that convert to Bermuda grass suffer from winter kill caused by extreme cold. In the Carolinas, it’s too hot in the summer for successful bentgrass, and in the winter, we have to cover the Bermuda grass to protect it from the cold and the threat of winter kill. We continue to keep up with the current research on newer cultivars of more heat-tolerant bentgrass and more cold-tolerant dwarf Bermuda grass.


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Pickleball Takes Center Court

by Martha-Page Althaus

 Mar 22, 2019 at 1:00 AM

It’s the fastest growing sport in the country, and McConnell Golf members have home-court advantage.

Pickleball is a paddle sport, similar to tennis or badminton, but with fewer rules and, some would say, even more fun.

“This year is our test year for pickleball,” says Kyle Thortsen, McConnell corporate director of tennis. “We’re educating our tennis pros on how to play and running demos at clubs, so be on the lookout for more details from your pro shop on upcoming pickleball socials this year.”

Holston Hills Country Club and Country Club of Asheville have seen a big interest in the sport; both clubs have a regular group of players who meet weekly.

“The biggest fans of pickleball are usually those who are aging out of tennis,” says Thorsten. “It’s a slower-paced game with an underhand serve, played on a smaller court. It’s great for tennis players who may have had injuries or can’t take the wear and tear of covering a full tennis court.”

At CCA, Director of Tennis Bill Barber says pickleball is bringing new people to his indoor courts.

“I’m seeing new people out here, which I love. It gets people active, and that’s a great thing. I’ve been shocked at the interest. There’s a very quick learning curve and it’s an incredibly social game. People are watching and laughing at the good, the bad, the ugly shots. It’s almost like adult ping-pong. I love when I hear members say ‘I haven’t laughed this much in years.’” 

CCA member Wayne DiCastri recently moved to Asheville from Minnesota, where he and his wife, Ingrid, played the sport regularly. They didn’t miss a beat when they joined CCA last fall.

“We have a great core group that plays regularly,” he says.

“It was a great way for us to meet new people and get some exercise. There’s less area to cover on the court and all the equipment is here. You just show up and start playing.”  

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Snedeker’s Wyndham Moments

by John Maginnes

 Mar 21, 2019 at 6:00 PM

The 2018 Wyndham champ reflects on his time in Greensboro. 

When Brandt Snedeker Teed off in the early morning on Thursday at the 2018 Wyndham Championship, there was no indication that record books would get a new chapter. But three and a half hours later, when his second shot on the 6th — his 15th hole of the day — tore through the front lip of the hole and wedged itself at the bottom, possibilities started to emerge. Two more birdies and Brandt Snedeker would join the most coveted group in PGA TOUR history. A birdie at the seventh hole would leave him two more chances. When a six-foot attempt went begging at the eighth hole, Brandt stood at 10-under on the round with one to go. His approach shot settled on the front right fringe some 16 feet below the hole. When the putt slammed into the back of the hole, a roar erupted. Brandt had shot just the 10th sub-60 round in PGA TOUR history. Brandt would shoot 67, 68, and close with 65 to win his second Wyndham Championship, and the ninth win of his PGA TOUR career.

His first win on the PGA TOUR was also the Wyndham Championship, when he capped a Rookie of the Year season with a win at Forest Oaks in 2007. With his 2018 win, Brandt joins his friend Davis Love as the only two players who have won at both Forest Oaks and Sedgefield.

“The win at Forest Oaks was huge for me because it was my first win on the PGA TOUR and propelled me to the Tour Championship,” he’s said. “Winning at Sedgefield was special for other reasons.”

Brandt has become a fan favorite over the years at the Wyndham Championship, and his 2018 win was popular among fans. It was also a popular win in the Wyndham board room. Brandt has been a brand ambassador for Wyndham since that 2007 win.

“It’s been incredible, because we kind of grew up on the PGA TOUR together,” he said. “2007 was Wyndham’s first year sponsoring the tournament and my first year on TOUR. I couldn’t have gotten luckier to win their first event as a rookie. My professional relationship with Wyndham has been incredible, but it’s all part of the personal relationship that I have with the people at Wyndham, starting with Steve Holmes.”

When Brandt returns to Greensboro this summer, there’s a good chance that the competition will be stiff. The Wyndham Championship is the final regular season event on the PGA TOUR calendar leading into the FedExCup. Following the Wyndham, the top-10 players in FedExCup points will enjoy a prize pool of $10 million, with $2 million going to the player who enters the playoffs as the number-one seed.

“It immediately puts the tournament on some guys’ radar,” said Brandt. “If you have a chance to finish first or to slip into the top-10, you have to consider playing the Wyndham. We are all getting used to the new schedule, but I think that you will definitely see a difference.

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A Special Bond with the Special Olympics

by Lauren Thedieck

 Mar 21, 2019 at 3:00 PM

McConnell Golf is proud to support the athletes and the organization.

This past year, the warm smiles and genuine hearts of Special Olympics athletes brought McConnell Golf properties together.

Director of Tennis Operations Kyle Thortsen and The Country Club at Wakefield Plantation hosted the Wake County Special Olympics team at the tennis complex. Together, club staff and junior players led practices, games, and lessons to help Special Olympics athletes prepare for state competitions.

“We encouraged our juniors to get involved and see how rewarding it is to give back to the community,” says Thortsen. “Next year, our goal is to extend our commitment with this organization to our Sedgefield, Providence, and Asheville properties.”

Also at Wakefield, Director of Golf Adam McLaughlin hosted an invitational tournament at the nine-hole Plantation Course. It allowed athletes that did not get a chance to compete in the state championship an opportunity to play in a local tournament.

“We are humbled by their courage, contagious spirit, and eagerness to get better as individuals and teams alongside their family and their loved ones,” says Michael Thomas, club manager at Wakefield.

Over the past six years, members and staff from Treyburn CC, Wakefield, and Raleigh CC have volunteered for the Track and Field Spring Games in Raleigh. They’ve taken on roles to announce winners, organize races, and cheer on athletes throughout the games.

Nearby, Brook Valley CC welcomed all Special Olympic athletes from Greenville County to enjoy an end-of-year pool party celebration. East Carolina University Assistant Athletics Director Matt Maloney was in attendance and shared a little about the celebration with Brian Bailey of WNCT News.

“I started 21 years ago coaching these wonderful friends ... a few years later, we wanted to celebrate all the good things they do not only in the pool but also in the community,” said Maloney.

On a personal level, I have been involved with the Special Olympics in every stage of my life and am so proud of our clubs for continuing to engage with our community. I believe lending our facilities, our resources, and our time deepens our relationships with those we support and teaches us all of the power of giving.


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On the Water

by Meredith Donahue

 Mar 20, 2019 at 7:30 PM

McConnell Golf’s three marinas provide the perfect launching point.

Whether at sunrise, sunset, or high noon, setting off on your boat is truly a treasured pastime to boat owners at the marinas adjacent to three McConnell-associated properties. For members and their guests, certain trips spark fond memories and some even create annual traditions.

McConnell Golf manages three marinas: Crazy Horse Marina, Old North State Marina, and Grande Dunes Marina. All are open to the public and offer slip opportunities for those looking for their next marina home, or just stopping by for the day.

Crazy Horse Marina, located in Moneta, VA, is owned by the McConnell family. This picturesque place is centrally located on Smith Mountain Lake in a cove just off Blackwater Marker B-10A, and offers full boating services. The marina hosts popular annual events such as Bass Pro Shop’s Big Bass Tour and the SML Wine Festival.

A little further south is Old North State Club Marina in New London, NC. Full-service, and available to boat owners and renters, the marina offers 50 wet slips, 100 dry-storage spaces, and 50 fence spaces. Anchoring Uwharrie National Forest, it’s the perfect launching point to explore 115 miles of shoreline.

In South Carolina, Grande Dunes Marina is the ideal place to begin your adventure on the Intracoastal Waterway. With 126 wet slips and 1,200 linear feet of lay-along floating docks, the marina offers a protected harbor for vessels up to 120 feet. A full-service marina, Grande Dunes is also located next to the Anchor Café, a favorite spot among locals.

For Grande Dunes member Francis Bell, the marina is like home. Bell was one of the first to purchase a slip in 2005, citing the marina’s prime location. Centrally located in Myrtle Beach, Grande Dunes Marina has allowed Bell to travel along the Waterway to picturesque fishing villages like Southport, NC and Georgetown, SC.

Most memorably, Bell recently took his Sea Ray to the annual Georgetown Wooden Boat Show, which features wooden boat exhibits with more than 140 classic wooden boats displayed on land and water. Poised to enjoy the novelties of the Wooden Boat Show, one can imagine Mr. Bell gazing eagerly towards the dock, preparing for the historical day ahead.

Bell’s marina neighbors, Steven and Denise LeMaster, use the marina year- round — mostly for extended weekends.

“It’s a great place to relax and enjoy fabulous sunsets,” says Steven LeMaster. The couple take longer boat trips in the spring and fall to beautiful coastal Carolina towns like Beaufort, NC; Wrightsville Beach, NC; and Hilton Head Island, SC. Add in a stop at the Anchor Café for a post-sail cocktail, and it’s the perfect recipe for the perfect trip down the Waterway.

Whether your vessel is headed for the quiet, smooth waters of Badin or Smith Mountain Lake or toward the Atlantic by way of the Intracoastal Waterway, marinas like these are the perfect place for members’ beloved boats to call home.

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