Stop the Car and Enjoy a Round at Belmont Lake
Anyone with even a hint of a villainous bone in their body can design a difficult golf course. But it takes a special touch for someone to draft 18 holes that provide reasonable challenges for players of all abilities. That’s exactly what you’ll find at Belmont Lake in Rocky Mount, NC.
The semi-private club opened in 2007 as the centerpiece of what was initially the sister golf community to acclaimed Ford’s Colony in Williamsburg, VA. The layout was designed by David Johnson Golf Design of Atlanta, GA, and quickly garnered attention as one of the “Top 100 Must Play” courses in the golf-rich state. And for good reason. While Belmont Lake does encourage risks and rewards, every hole also offers a more conservative, safer line of play. “I do not want golfers to finish their round, having lost a dozen balls, feeling beat up and frustrated that the course was too difficult or unfair,” Johnson said. “These people do not return.”
That’s not a problem at Belmont Lake, which draws steady play from locals and members, as well as those from the Mid-Atlantic traveling to and back from Myrtle Beach and other golf destinations pointed south. The course is conveniently located just minutes off Interstate 95 in Eastern North Carolina and is the perfect stopover for those itching to get in a pre-vacation round or wanting one more chance to post a career score before they get home.
The layout emphasizes strategic play with the demands asked of the golfer escalating as you move from the forward tees to the championship markers. From the back (7,095 yards), you’ll be more than challenged with several forced carries and cross-bunkers. However, if you choose the middle tees (6,053 yards), the shorter distance and playing angles soften many of the hazards from your tee shot. Just about every hole allows run-up shots to at least a portion of the green and generous bail-out areas have been included for those wishing to steer clear of trouble.
The course incorporates a classic front-nine out, back-nine return design and does a marvelous job of taking full advantage of the property’s gently rolling terrain, beautiful 80-acre signature lake, and two man-made ponds. There are no gimmicks with the design. But there is plenty of variety and contrasts. Most of the holes flow effortlessly through woodlands, although there are a handful without trees where wind can play a more prominent role. There’s a nice balance of straight holes, doglegs that move left and right, large and small greens, and a wonderful mix of hole lengths. The result is a fair test of golf that provides interest, variety and excitement without making you jump through hoops or having to lace impossible iron shots to island greens protected by circling sharks or hungry alligators.
The first hole at Belmont Lake is a solid par 4 that sets the tone for your round. While the dogleg right offers a wide and inviting landing area, the degree of difficulty is turned up a notch or two on the approach. Trust your yardage and aim over the false or “fore” bunker (it is well short of the green but appears to be right in front) towards the right side of the green. Slopes and mounds just off the edge will tend to kick shots back towards the cup.
Among the par 3s, the 3rd and 8th holes exemplify Belmont Lake’s contrasting hole designs. Number 3 only measures 140 yards from the back tees but requires a precise shot over a pond to a small green. Number 8, on the other hand, can stretch well over 200 yards and runs downhill to a land that sand forgot. But you will want to avoid the deep collection area right of the green and the thick, wiry grass to the far left.
The par 4s and 5s showcase variety, as well. The par-4 No. 2 can be a beast measuring 468 yards from the back tees and played uphill to a crested fairway. Compare that to the heavily-bunkered No. 5 that measures less than 300 yards and is drivable for the longer hitters. Among the par 5s is the 457-yard No. 11 that can be reached in two. However, even the slightest pull on the approach can find the large pond that guards the left side of the fairway from 100 yards in. Number 7, on the other hand, is a par 5 of nearly 600 yards. This is one of the few holes played in the open and has a distinctive Scottish links flair with bunkers sprinkled along the fairway. And don’t forget the par-5 No. 18 that skirts along the edge of Belmont Lake. The ideal second shot will carry a row of three bunkers that cut across the left side of the fairway. Clear the sand and catch the downslope and you’ll be chipping for eagle.
While Belmont Lake is well-known for its player-friendly design, it earns even more praise for its excellent conditioning. The greens were converted to G-12 Champion Bermuda a few years ago and, when combined with the care and pride the staff takes with its fairways, the course can actually improve your play and ultimately your score.
Discovering a golf course that can be enjoyed by every golfer regardless of handicap can be as elusive as carding a hole-in-one. Finding one that also measures up to championship standards and is remarkably affordable is an even more rare catch. Belmont Lake accomplishes that, while proving once again that stops like this along the way are what make golf trips so much fun. Best of all, TeeTime Golf Pass members can take advantage of several incredible promo rounds at Belmont Lake that will likely cover your bar-b-cue and sweet tea costs… something else the Rocky Mount area is famous for.