From the Old Town Club in Winston Salem, where Arnold Palmer and Wake Forest University’s connections run deep, to the Wyndham Championship’s home at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, the Triad is considered one of golf’s Southeast hotbeds.
The abundance of courses in the area that carry similar historical significance can cause some to go overlooked. And Mill Creek Golf Club in Mebane is one of the region’s best-kept secrets.
In the North Carolina Golf Panel’s course rankings for 2017, Mill Creek came in at No. 29 in the “Top 50 Courses You Can Play” category. It was also named the Triad’s top hidden gem — a course that panelists believe doesn’t receive as much attention or accolades as it might deserve.
“We’ve got a good all-around team, from the maintenance staff to the guys who load the bags to the people who check in and our starters,” said Mike Long, Mill Creek’s general manager and PGA professional. “They’re just all good people, and that’s what you’ve got to have.”
Designed by Rick Robbins, Brian Lussier and Gary Koch, Mill Creek opened in 1995 upon 650 acres.
The course, a par-72, stretches 7,004 yards from the championship tees, one of six different sets. With a course rating of 74 and a slope rating of 139 from there, according to the United States Golf Association, the layout can present a challenge.
“Back when it was built, it was really kind of long for the players,” Long said. “But as technology has gotten better and the clubs and the ball are going farther, it kind of stood the test of time. It’s challenging, but it’s not as difficult as a really, really long course.”
Eighteen years after it was built, Mill Creek underwent an overhaul of its greens in 2013, converting them from bent grass to MiniVerde Ultra Dwarf Bermudagrass. Long called them “some of the best greens in the area.”
Tree-lined fairways and hilly terrain are accompanied by creeks and streams that run through the course and previously fueled the Mill Creek grist mill, which you can see the remains of on your way to the No. 1 green.
Those factors can make you feel as if you’re playing a mountain course instead of one in the central part of the state.
“It’s got lots of different shot variations,” Long said. “You’ve got some uphill, downhill, side hill … So you end up using about every club in your bag, and that to me makes a good golf course.”
The signature hole
Rated the No. 4 handicap hole on the course, the 18th is one of the most unique in the area.
The 428-yard par-4 gives you the option to hit your drive onto one of two fairways — a decision you’ll want to make before walking onto the tee box.
“It’s one of the best finishing holes around,” Long said, “because you’ve got to pay attention to where the flag is before you go out that day.”
At about the same time it restored its greens, Mill Creek also made some significant changes to its clubhouse, which Long said hadn’t been renovated since the course’s inception.
Long said those renovations included upgrades to the bathrooms and the grill area. A meeting space was also added upstairs for smaller groups to use, he said.
Adjacent to the clubhouse, the practice facility boasts a driving range that’s approximately 375 yards deep and features an upper and lower tee box covered with Bermudagrass. Long said the chipping green was expanded this past winter to give golfers more room to practice hitting from lies and bunkers similar to those on the course.
“You get a lot of shot variation there,” Long said. “It’s a good practice facility. We’ve got mats, and we’ve got turf. It’s probably the best practice facility, I think, in the county.”
The Triad offers some of the most accessible and affordable courses in the Carolinas. That’s no different with Mill Creek.
For an adult to play 18 holes before 2 p.m. at Mill Creek, it costs $42 from Monday-Thursday, $48 on Friday and $62 on weekends and holidays. Those rates fall to $32, $38 and $48, respectively, after 2 p.m. Other rates can be found here.
“If this golf course was inside the Charlotte area or inside Greensboro, the fees would probably be $8 or $10 higher,” Long said. “So it’s a good price for it, a good golf course. I feel like it’s probably the best semi-private value in North Carolina.”