Top 10 Budget-Friendly Golf Courses in North Carolina

This spring, North Carolina has been the talk of professional golf. The Wells Fargo Championship was held at Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club, and in June, the US Open was held in Pinehurst.

Just one shot separated Rory McIlroy from winning both. He won the Wells Fargo Championship, but Bryson DeChambeau beat him at the Pinehurst Resort and Club the next month.

Because McIlroy lost by one shot to Open winner DeChambeau, he won almost $2 million less than he could have. But he won $2,322,000, so we don’t think he’s complaining. He probably hasn’t spent the $3.6 million he won in April.

That much money isn’t something everyone makes in a week or even a lifetime. But you’d need something close to that to play golf at Quail Hollow or Pinehurst. In other words, where are the places where you can play the most beautiful 18 holes without having to pay like a pro?

This is the kind of list we made, going west from the mountains to the coast so you can find one close to you.

Best affordable golf courses in Western North Carolina

Laurel Ridge Country Club

49 Cupp Lane, Waynesville

Course rating: 72.4

Slope rating: 146

Cost to play 18 holes: $65

Laurel Ridge was designed by the famous golf course builder Bob Cupp and opened in 1986. It has all the challenges you’d expect from a mountain course while still being fair and easy to play. The hills, slopes, and rolling meadows put Cupp’s planning skills to the test, as well as the engineering skills of course builder Jim Holmes. But the result is clear and hard, even for golfers who aren’t very good.

A lot of people who are used to playing golf in the Piedmont or near the coast might like this course the most because it is 70 degrees in the summer at Laurel Ridge.

Asheville Municipal Golf Course

226 Fairway Dr.

Course rating: 71.1

Slope rating: 122

Cost to play 18 holes: $80

As far as we know, this is the only course on this list that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Its classic layout was created in 1927 by the famous course builder Donald Ross. By today’s standards, the course isn’t very long at 6,440 yards from the back tees, but it shows that length alone doesn’t make a great course.

Cross Creek Country Club

1129 Greenhill Road, Mount Airy

Course rating: 72.7

Slope rating: 138

Cost to play 18 holes: $65

This golf course is at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains and was named one of the Top 100 in North Carolina. Its beautiful fairways and challenging, undulating greens make it a great place for all golfers to play.

The putting surface was recently updated by Kris Spence with an A-1 and A-4 blend of lush bent grass. The course also has 68 carefully placed bunkers and seven bodies of water that make for nice views—just don’t hit them.

Best affordable golf courses in Coastal North Carolina


105 Scotch Hall Court, Merry Hill

Course rating: 77.1

Slope rating: 146

Cost to play 18 holes: $90

With seven sets of tees, this Arnold Palmer Signature course is 7,262 yards long and has won many awards. Occano has beautiful views and difficult golf for golfers of all levels. Occano is both hard and nice thanks to its well-kept fairways and greens, and the staff can help you play your best round.

golf courses
golf courses

The Pearl Golf Links

1300 Pearl Blvd., Calabash

Course rating: 73.5

Slope rating: 134

Cost to play 18 holes: $75

The Pearl is a 27-hole golf course built by Dan Maples that is set in woods and marshes along the Calabash River. It has three 18-hole courses that are very different from each other: The Pearl East, The Pearl West, and The Pearl North. When The Pearl opened in 1987, it quickly became one of Golf Digest’s top places to play.

Wilmington Municipal Golf Course

311 Donald Ross Drive, Wilmington

Course rating: 73.3

Slope rating: 140

Cost to play 18 holes: $44

Donald Ross built the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course in 1926 so that everyone could have access to a good, competitive 18-hole golf course. This beautiful course was recently brought back to its original design by Donald Ross. The greens were widened, the bunkers were fixed up, and the golf cart paths and tee boxes were improved. It was named one of GolfPass’s Top 100 Walking Courses in America and the 50th best course in North Carolina by the “Top 100 Golf Courses of the World” website.

Best affordable golf courses in the Piedmont

Harry L Jones Sr. Golf Course

1525 W. Tyvola Road, Charlotte

Course rating: 75.8

Slope rating: 126

Cost to play 18 holes: $50

This municipal course was named for the popular county manager who died in 2017. It is on top of a landfill and is only a few minutes from the airport. All skill levels can use all four sets of tees, which offer a range of lengths.

Skybrook Golf Club

14720 Northgreen Drive, Huntersville

Course rating: 74.1

Slope rating: 137

Cost to play 18 holes: $85

Players could start using this John LaFoy Championship course in the summer of 2000. The golf course goes through the Skybrook neighborhood, which is just north of Charlotte. The grounds are rolling, and the views are stunning.

On January 1, 2019, the course got new ownership, which started several projects, such as putting in new MiniVerde Bermudagrass greens. The course is both friendly and difficult, with big changes in elevation and lots of landing places.

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Forest Oaks Country Club

4600 Forest Oaks Drive, Greensboro

Course rating: 75

Slope rating: 142

Cost to play 18 holes: $59

This course was built by Ellis Maples to be one of the hardest in a state known for its great golf courses. It has been a stop on the PGA Tour since 1962. The Greater Greensboro Open has been held at this semi-private course for a long time. The NC Golf Panel named it as the 13th best public course in the state.

Lonnie Poole Golf Course

1509 Main Campus Drive, Raleigh

Course rating: 74.7

Slope rating: 142

Cost to play 18 holes: $85

The famous Arnold Palmer created this course on the campus of NC State University with help from Erik Larsen and Brandon Johnson, both of whom graduated from NCSU and worked for the Arnold Palmer Design Company.

Originally built for the university’s men’s and women’s golf teams, the course is now a popular spot for locals to play golf because it has such beautiful views of Raleigh and the famous Centennial Campus.

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