Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
Course architect: George Cobb
Redesigned: 1999 (Tom Fazio)
Tee — Yardage | Rating / Slope:
Tar Heel — 7,223 | 74.9 / 138
Gold — 6,781 | 72.9 / 134
Blue — 6,186 | 70.4 / 130
Blue / White — 5,909 | 68.7 / 127
White — 5,541 | 66.9 / 122
Red — 4,942 | 61.6 / 109
White / Red — 5,405 | 66.2 / 118
Blue — 6,186 | 76.1 / 140
Blue / White — 5,909 | 73.9 / 133
White — 5,541 | 66.9 / 122
Red — 4,942 | 68.8 / 120
White / Red — 5,405 | 71.1 / 126
Saturday morning green fee: $$ ($50-$99)
Caddie service: No
Walker friendly: Yes
Starter: This is one of 18 Tom Fazio designs scattered across North Carolina that almost never happened. Jack Nicklaus offered to waive his design fee and work on the course while son Jackie was on the golf team in the 1980s. However, already facing a backlash from the school’s academia arm over the funding of the new Smith Center basketball arena, Chancellor Christopher Fordham turned down the Golden Bear’s generous offer, and the redesign went to Fazio some 15 years later.
Play because ...: UNC Finley is one of the better collegiate golf courses around, with top-notch conditions and a variety of holes that hold interest. After the round take a trip down memory lane in the clubhouse. Memorabilia and photos feature Davis Love III, Harvie Ward, John Inman, Mark Wilson, Jim Ferree and others. And don’t forget, just five minutes down the road is Franklin Street, one of the nation’s most iconic college locations.
Takeaway: Any college course with a beer menu is OK with me. Having played the rather boring “Finley Flats” while in school here in the 1980s the job Fazio did with the land he was handed is pretty amazing. Four reachable par-5s make this a fun day on the links, however, enough water comes into play to keep all levels of golfers honest. If you’re lucky, you may run into a threesome featuring Michael Jordan, Lawrence Taylor and Davis Love III.
RATINGS [1 to 10 scale, 10 being the highest]
Food | Beverage: 7.0
Pro Shop: 9.0
Course Difficulty: 7.0
Pace of Play: 7.0
THE COURSE | Scorecard
Best par 3: No. 5 (218 | 178 | 168 | 110 | 93 yards). The longest of the par-3 holes, a creek and marsh guard the right side of the approach to a generous green, which is larger than it appears from the tee. That illusion can lead to improper club selection. A right-rear hole placement is a sucker pin, so aim for the center of the green and happily take par.
Best par 4: No. 15 (490 | 432 | 404 | 380 | 346 yards). A "wow factor" view from the tee and the beginning of a three-hole stretch where Fazio tests every club in the bag. An elevated tee displays the entire path to the flag stick. A golfer's eye immediately wanders to the left side as a lake runs the entire length of a right-to-left sloping fairway to the green, where a bunker guards short approach shots. The play off the tee is slightly right, away from the water, but Fazio places large bunkers there too, so a straight drive off the tee is a must if expecting to make par.
Best par 5: No. 17 (556 | 531 | 509 | 446 | 418 yards). A generous option off the tee offers a number of choices into this diabolical green, which measures more than 10,000 square feet with its two-tiered and steep 4 feet of elevation change. For the second shot, Fazio provides plenty of room to bail out on the right side, but also lines up a series of bunkers there too for those who fail to reach the green in two. Reaching the green’s proper level is a must or a likely three-putt awaits even the best putters.