Tobacco Road Golf Club

Sanford, North Carolina, United States

Sanford, North Carolina, United States

The Mike Strantz Masterpiece

If I could play one course I’ve already played in the United States, it would definitely be Tobacco Road in Sanford, North Carolina. The course was mesmerizing to me. The layout is a vision realized by a true artist. As cliche as that sounds, I don’t have a better description for Mike Stranz. He is the Jackson Pollock of golf course architecture.

Standing on the 1st tee, it looks like you’re trying to reach the fairway through a narrow hallway. Two high, scrub-covered dunes guard the entrance and sit at an angle so you can’t see what’s in store. It’s a deliberate brush stroke designed to ramp up the 1st tee nerves and hide the fact that the fairway is really pretty darn wide without much to trouble the average drive. First-time players have no clue what to expect when they reach their tee ball, but it all feels like you were witness to a card trick. A sleight of hand with a par 5 that’s not near as hard as it looks performed by a magician who has built a mystery of a course that forces a sharp mental game accompany even the best swings. As great as the first hole is, there are 17 other challenging puzzles after that.

The scorecard for Tobacco Road quotes the late architect shrugging off criticism with, “I don’t care if people think my courses are too hard.” To me, that’s bulletin board material and a challenge to bring my A-game. Tobacco Road is definitely hard, especially the first time you play it, but its bark is worse than its bite as it simply appears much harder than it actually is. It’s also a blast to play and you can see Strantz had just as much fun designing it.

Beyond my top ranking of courses I would go back and play tomorrow, Tobacco Road has earned a slew of other honors.

  • Top 100 Courses in America – Golf Digest
  • Top 100 Courses in America – Golf Magazine
  • Top 100 Courses in America – Golfweek
  • Golf Course Architecture – Architects Choice, Top 100 Golf Courses in the World, #50

Mike Strantz also won Golf World‘s 1998 Golf Course Architect of the Year.

The best long description of Tobacco Road I’ve heard comes from a conversation with Tom Coyne on Talking Golf Getaways with Mitch Laurance and Darin Bunch.

Make your tee time at Tobacco Road Golf Club.

Course Location: 442 Tobacco Rd, Sanford, NC 27332, United States

Course review by Chris Austin — Founder, Editor, Writer, Traveling Golfer