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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The McConnell Golf Dream 18 Course

by Brad King

 Dec 13, 2017 at 6:44 PM

With the 2016 additions of Providence Country Club and Holston Hills Country Club, McConnell Golf encompasses a dozen 18-hole, private golf courses throughout the Carolinas and Tennessee.

For those of you scoring at home, that’s a total of 225 golf holes in the McConnell Golf portfolio, and they are undoubtedly among the finest you’ll play anywhere. McConnell Golf properties feature courses designed by legends such as Donald Ross, Pete Dye, Tom Fazio, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, and Hale Irwin. In 2017, as they do year in and year out, McConnell Golf courses dominated the various state rankings.

So picking the 18 “very best” McConnell Golf holes is no easy task. But through nominations from pros and member votes, that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’re pleased to present the final course in the words of those whom know it best.

Head over to Facebook for photos, descriptions and tips on each hole >>

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Amateur Stars

by Shayla Martin

 Sep 09, 2016 at 7:14 PM

At McConnell Golf the sport of golf is more than just a leisure activity. Members across all 12 clubs train competitively in the hope of one day playing among their idols. Three McConnell Golf members have progressed to amateur and professional levels, and we’re proud to share their latest updates.

Standout Scholars

After receiving a McConnell Golf Junior Scholarship in 2008, Grayson Murray has wasted no time ascending the ranks to the PGA Tour. After the 22-year-old started the year with conditional status on the Web.com Tour and missed the cut in his first event, he tied for 10th place at TPC Wakefield Plantation and then tied for eighth at the BMW Charity Pro-Am. He earned his full-time PGA Tour card for the upcoming season in mid-October by finishing among this year’s top 25 money winners on the Web.com Tour.

“I received the McConnell Golf Junior Scholarship in the eighth grade, and it was perfect timing. It elevated my game so much just getting to go out to Raleigh Country Club every afternoon after school,” said Murray. “I don’t think I would have been the player I am without that scholarship.” The MCG Junior Scholarship is a program designed to offer instruction, practice, and playing opportunities to young golfers who may not have the financial ability to work on their games at first-class facilities. Murray was selected based on his level of talent, need, and commitment to the sport — as well as his proven dedication and value to the future of golf.

A fellow McConnell Golf Scholar is Raleigh native Carter Jenkins, a 2010 recipient who also played in the Rex Hospital Open as an amateur. Like Murray, Jenkins excelled in the amateur and collegiate ranks and is currently playing as a professional on the PGA Canada Tour. A fun fact about Jenkins: He and Grayson Murray were high school golf teammates at Leesville Road High School in Raleigh.

Member Competitor

A celebrated Sedgefield Country Club member is Scott Harvey. At the end of 2015, Harvey represented the U.S. in Manchester, England on the Walker Cup team, one of the most prestigious tournaments for an amateur golfer.

In April he won the Carolinas Mid-Amateur Championship at Dataw Island Golf Club in South Carolina, then two days later represented the U.S. in the Concession Cup in Bradenton, Florida, an international amateur tournament with teams from Great Britain and Ireland.

Most recently he played the U.S. Mid-Amateur in September and was a fourth-time medalist in the stroke play, setting a record. Next up he will represent North Carolina in the U.S. Men’s State Team Championship in Birmingham, Alabama. At the end of the year, he’ll again be considered for the Carolina’s Men’s Player of the Year by the Carolina Golf Association, an honor he’s received six consecutive years.

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The DR40

by Matt McConnell

 May 18, 2016 at 7:36 PM

The legendary Donald Ross designed four beloved McConnell Golf courses, and each one is easily accessed from Interstate 40. Since Interstate 40 is often called “I-40” in conversation, we like to call this trail of courses the “DR-40.” Here’s a look.

At exactly 400 Donald Ross Drive, just outside of downtown Raleigh, DR-40 begins at Raleigh Country Club. Established in 1948, the club boasts the last course designed by Ross. This walker-friendly property ranks among the best in North Carolina, and is just the beginning of an impressive and historical journey.

90 miles west in Greensboro, North Carolina, the most challenging Ross designed course along DR-40 is Sedgefield Country Club. A true work of art with fast championship Bermuda greens, the course is a test for expert golfers but still fun for beginners. Built in 1926, Sedgefield hosts the annual Wyndham Championship — currently the only Ross-designed course played regularly on the PGA Tour. If you want to play where golf’s greatest, including Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, and most recently Tiger Woods, have played then Sedgefield is a must-stop on DR-40.

An easy drive from Greensboro, the next stop along DR-40 is in the Blue Ridge Mountains at The Country Club of Asheville. Considered the oldest private club in North Carolina, The Country Club of Asheville was founded in 1894 and is McConnell Golf’s only mountain course. Recognized as one of “The First 100 Clubs in America,” this track is the shortest course along DR-40 at 6,673 yards. However, it is definitely the most elevated, offering incredible views of the surrounding mountains. No doubt the best view is on hole 15. After you continuously hit uphill onto the green, you’ll feel compelled to pause and enjoy the vista as you overlook downtown Asheville. Besides appreciating the gorgeous scenery, you’ll enjoy the abundant wildlife: turkeys, deer, and even black bears, that the golfers here have said are friendly.

After a scenic drive through the mountains, the last stop on DR-40 is at Holston Hills Country Club in Knoxville, Tennessee. This gem of a course has been well-preserved since Ross created it in 1927. Every tee and green at Holston Hills is still located exactly where it was originally built, allowing golfers a pure experience to play the course as it was intended. Holston Hill’s Country Club is consistently ranked in the top 50 of Golf Week’s “Top 100 Classic Courses in the United States.” Bordered by the Holston River with the Great Smoky Mountains as a backdrop, the rustically bucolic property has a Scottish feel with tall natural rough and a classic clubhouse.

What the DR-40 courses have in common are small undulating greens and rolling fairways, but each course is unique. The only way to know for sure is to see for yourself; the entire drive takes five-and-a-half-hours, and the trip makes for a perfect golf vacation. Plan your trip along the DR-40 today, and let us know how we can help.

Sample the Region's Best

McConnell Golf extends a warm welcome to those traveling to the Southeast from overseas or across the country. In bringing our members the best in golf, dining, sport amenities and on-site lodging our "pure golf" philosophy has forged a trail linking thirteen tracks from Myrtle Beach to Knoxville. Previously only available to our members and their guests, the golf experience is now extended in part to travelers whom reside a minimum of 100 miles from any club location and wish to link a minimum of three properties to create their trail. Learn more about the McConnell Golf Trail.

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When Technology Intersects Tradition

by Casey Griffith

 Apr 22, 2016 at 4:30 PM

I'm sitting in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona on a third-story patio admiring the purple glow of the McDowell Mountains. Chatting with friends over pulsating music and a cadence of “whoosh … ping” on the perimeter, I order appetizers and a round of cocktails. Moments later buffalo chicken sliders, crab cakes, and a myriad of margaritas arrive for the group.

Turning my attention to the “whoosh … ping,” I watch our host settle into his stance and send a golf ball soaring toward a netted outfield. It lands on its target, and a microchip within the ball instantly pings distance and accuracy data to a nearby monitor. The group cheers  and jeers as points are assigned and a new champion emerges on the leaderboard.


At this point, I’m half expecting a spaceship to cruise by on a routine connection between Sky Harbor airport and Mars. What strange planet is this? “It’s fun,” a friend tells me as she chooses from a color-coded rack of clubs, “but it’s not really golf.”

First arriving from the UK in 2005, TopGolf describes this scene as “golf entertainment,” and it has quickly become a popular urban hangout. (One can draw parallels to the evolution of the arcade hall that Dave & Busters spearheaded in the ’90s.) Though certainly not for everyone, it caters to the shorter attention spans of this modern “Age of Instant” and offers a new opportunity for entry into an otherwise less approachable sport. 

Whether mixing elements of the game into an altogether new experience, or amplifying teaching tools with video and Doppler radar, there’s no question that technology has crossed paths with our beloved, age-old sport.


Let’s travel now to a more utilitarian setting, the Golf Learning Center at TPC Wakefield Plantation in Raleigh, North Carolina, where Director of Golf Josh Points puts his tenured teaching methods to work. Lined up across from a television screen, a student swings purposefully while a nearby camera records the motion. They review the footage together, and Points uses slow-motion to provide precise instruction.

“Our Learning Center lets us focus on improving longstanding fundamentals in a technology-forward environment that creates the ultimate student experience,” says Points. “Visual learning is by far the most efficient way to improve any type of motor skill, and we see it in practice every day with our students’ growth.”

Also equipped with FlightScope® technology, Raleigh Country Club and The Reserve Golf Club of Pawleys Island, South Carolina are able not only to enhance lessons, but also help golfers determine their best set of clubs based on the club head speed and ball speed data it generates. Both Ross and Dye courses at Sedgefield Country Club and Holston Hills Country Club in Knoxville, Tennessee use the TrackMan system for swing analysis. On the mobile front, members and pros across all McConnell Golf clubs use the V1 app on their phones or tablets to improve their game.


So, what will a golf club look like in the future? Will a set of monitors showing member’s daily scores illuminate the walls? Will a hole-in-one become a push notification on our mobile devices instead of an in-person celebration at the 19th hole? Maybe someday.

But I don’t see anything replacing mankind’s 500-year-old passion for the game itself. At the heart of golf lies a connection with nature’s simplistic beauty and the physical and mental contest between a player, the landscape, and himself. These classic elements need no improvement.

“McConnell Golf is always looking for technology that brings our members real value. From operational efficiencies to learning tools, we focus on advancements that embody the spirit of the game and enhance the service we are able to provide,” says McConnell Golf COO Christian Anastasiadis.


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