Man-Made Thunder

Bayonet at Puppy Creek Golf Club (Photo: Scott MacLeod)
Bayonet at Puppy Creek Golf Club (Photo: Scott MacLeod)

Day three of our 2011 golf road trip in North Carolina produced something pretty unique.

Driving from Raleigh this morning to the Fayetteville area Flagstick Publisher Jeff Bauder and myself  didn’t imagine the symphony of sounds that would accompany our round of golf at Bayonet at Puppy Creek Golf Club.  Not only does the course have one of the more distinctive names in golf, it also has a very singular neighbour in the form of Fort Bragg, the massive army base that is home to U.S. Army Airborne Forces and Special Forces.

Founded in 1918, Fort Bragg’s original use was as an artillery training ground.  Covering almost 50 square kilometres and blessed with sandy soil that runs deep it makes the perfect place for artillery shells to land with “minimal” damage.

Which brings us to today.  Each Fall, for three weeks, heavy artillery training takes place at Fort Bragg and we found ourselves arriving here right in that window.  Some 5,000 shells will be fired over the three weeks, many of the 155mm variety from Howitzer cannons that deliver shells that weigh more than 40 kilograms a piece.  From a distance the sound they make at ignition resembles thunder and today as we toured the golf course we were serenaded with their sounds on a regular basis.  It was hard to ignore but before long it became more of a constant background noise that was not quite as pervasive as it should have been.  Those sensitive to sudden and loud sounds as they golf need not apply.

The Willard Byrd designed Bayonet Course gave us another favorable taste of Fayetteville golf.  A couple years ago we managed to drop in here to play Anderson Creek, a Davis Love III creation, and left quite impressed.  Golf packages in this area start at about $74 a day according to John Meroski of the local Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and you get a lot of value for that.

Bayonet at Puppy Creek serves up a course that is equivalent to the top 20% of Ontario courses but can be played for about $55 including cart.  Heavily treed, you must play smartly to score well, especially on the closing four holes.  Few holes are level from tee to green, requiring you to give club selection some careful thought.

At 7021 yards and with a course rating of 74.1 (slope 142) from that distance it is all the golf course you can handle, and more, off the back tees.

And if you are here at the right time of the year you even get your own soundtrack, military style.

Tomorrow’s stop on Road Trip 2011 – The Dormie Club, Pinehurst, North Carolina.