Where I played: A superb value at the site of a Lee Trevino major victory

Host of the 1974 PGA Championship, Tanglewood Park is a beloved North Carolina muni.

Connor Federico

Welcome to our “Where I Played” series, in which a GOLF staffer runs through a recent day at a course you might play in your future. On this occasion, we’re teeing it up at the Champions Course in Clemmons, North Carolina.

Tucked away in a Winston-Salem suburb lies a historic muni that exemplifies everything great about North Carolina golf. The Champions Course at Tanglewood Park is beautifully maintained and a creative and fun design, but the best part? It’s extremely affordable.

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For just $54 (including cart fees, although most regulars walk), you can play the same Robert Trent Jones Sr. design as some of golf’s legendary major champions.

The Championship Course presents a fair and fun challenge featuring over 100 strategically placed bunkers which will force you to think all the way from tee to green. The par-4 5th hole, for example, features a massive bunker along the right edge of the fairway, ready to collect balls from players bailing out away from the water left. The ensuing approach demands perfection, too. There’s a steep slope in front of the green that sends even slightly short shots 80 yards downhill.

Water left, bunker right, and a steep false front protect the short par-4 5th hole. Connor Federico

The short par-4 15th hole is littered with bunkers on all sides of the landing area, forcing most players to hit iron off the tee to set up an uphill wedge to the green. Sure, you can go for the green off the tee if you want, but the steep greenside traps will make it difficult to get up and down for birdie.

What makes this place even more special is its history. In 1974, Hall-of-Famer Lee Trevino claimed his first Wanamaker Trophy here, beating Jack Nicklaus by one and 62-year-old Sam Snead by three to win the PGA Championship. Trevino’s signature low fade fit perfectly at Tanglewood, where his winning score was four under par.

Besides the Championship Course, Tanglewood Park also has the 18-hole Reynolds Course (also designed by RTJ) and an 18-hole par-3 course.

The long, uphill par-4 9th hole at Tanglewood Park’s Champions Course. Connor Federico

As fall officially arrives, the area offers a ton to do beyond golf — drive-in holiday lights shows, hayrides, pumpkin patches, mountain bike trails and horseback riding, to name a few — but at 8 a.m. on a recent October Sunday, even with temperatures at 40 degrees, it was clear that golf was king at Tanglewood Park.

Dozens of golfers gathered for a morning tournament, one that, despite the cold temperatures, went on as planned thanks to some quick work from the grounds crew. Meanwhile, our playing partners were eager to welcome a couple of out-of-towners, unsure of what we had gotten ourselves into. They told us we would love it here. Four hours later, Tanglewood Park proved them right.

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