Triangle’s 10 Signature Golf Holes: Old Chatham Golf Club

By Cameron Snipes, Research & Logistics Director at the Triangle Business Journal. For the full article, please click here.

Durham, NC, October 1, 2012 – ( – To paraphrase a statement on the back of Old Chatham Golf Club’s scorecard, nothing detracts more from the enjoyment of your golfing round than slow play. Good thing I didn’t play a full round.

The next stop on my Triangle golfing trek finds me at a Durham golfing gem that’s nestled back off the beaten path and is only identified by two small green signs emblazoned with the initials “OC.”

Located just beyond the Chatham County line, Old Chatham Golf Club is hidden away by design. The brainchild of about 50 Triangle business leaders – including Jim Hyler, former president of the U.S. Golf Association, and legendary UNC basketball coach Dean Smith – Old Chatham was built to cater to the desires of pure golf lovers that wanted to play the game without outside distractions. You won’t find tennis courts, swimming pools, or a bustling social calendar – amenities most other country clubs offer. Just a place to play a quiet round of golf.

The Rees Jones-designed course officially opened for play in 2001. Now with 320 members, Old Chatham is completely self-funded and is billed as a laid-back place to enjoy the game of golf.

John Marino, the club’s head golf professional, estimates that the course plays host to about 10,000 rounds per year. That’s roughly 32 rounds per day, considering that the course is open six days a week. The course is pricey to play; the initiation fee is $42,000.

Old Chatham’s current board of directors consists of some well-known names in the Triangle business community, including Kenneth Lee, a partner at Hatteras Venture Partners, Jack McDonald, CEO of McDonald York Building Co. and retired senior IBM executive Richard Daugherty.

The course also recently went through some minor renovations, including switching to more heat-tolerant Champion Bermuda grass. The club also renovated the cart paths and added a few more sand bunkers. The course was closed most of the summer and reopened in early September.

The hole Marino chose for us to play was No. 14. It’s a short par 5 that plays about 495 yards from the black tees. It bends left, which is not suited for my recently developed slice.

I tee it up and, true to form, push it right to within about 300 yards of the green in the taller grass. After a few flubs, and some tips from Marino, my next real shot continues the trend.

Now just above the right-side bunker, I have my sights firmly set on the hole below me. I chunk it into the sand. My next shot lands on the green, and after three putts I’m in.

Marino and I played hole No. 15 as well, but it wasn’t much better for me, so I’ll spare the details. After playing just two holes on the course, I’m pretty sure more repair work is needed.