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Improved Lochmere Golf Club near Raleigh, North Carolina offers straightforward golf at a reasonable price

Jennifer MarioBy Jennifer Mario,
Lochmere Golf Club - 9th hole
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Lochmere Golf Club: A friendly neighborhood place for golf. (Courtesy of Lochmere G.C.)

CARY, N.C. -- It's 9:45 a.m. on a cold November morning in Cary. By cold, I mean 40 degrees with only the mere possibility of warming up in the next few hours.

And although the clubhouse is toasty warm, no one is inside except the pro. Everyone else is layered up and either out on the course or hitting balls on the range. Because the golfers here at Lochmere Golf Club aren't the type to sit around warming their hands or cooling their heels.

What does Lochmere offer that draws people in despite this frankly unpleasant weather?

Straightforward golf at an affordable price, that's what. Lochmere Golf Club bills itself as a "friendly neighborhood place for golf," and that's precisely what it is.

No tricks -- it's all right in front of you, tee to green. Built compactly on only 110 acres, the walkable course ranges from 4,665 yards from the reds to 6,627 from the back tees. With five sets of tee boxes (four of which are rated for women -- hallelujah!), any level of golfer can feel comfortable here.

Lochmere Golf Club: The course

When Lochmere opened in 1985, it was "the only game in town," said Steve Ostroff, general manager. As the Triangle grew, more courses opened, and competition for golfers became fierce.

The fact that the golf course was built on a floodplain did not help, as the fairways and especially the greens were difficult to maintain and took a beating. Lochmere competed by offering unparalleled practice facilities and some of the best customer service in the area.

But a recent renovation put the course back on even footing in terms of conditioning, so Lochmere can now offer the complete package -- a great little course to match its great customer service.

The primary renovation was an overhaul of the greens. As of September 2012, the patchy, disease-prone, 30-year-old greens are gone. The gorgeous, new, tight-as-a-drum mini-Verde Bermuda greens roll firm and true and have the heat and cold tolerance to withstand North Carolina's variable weather.

The renovation's half-million-dollar price tag, said Ostroff, was well worth it. "People are anxious to come out here because of the new greens, and they keep coming back. Now that we've addressed the greens, we're very happy with the course. Before we had a great location and great staff, but now we have a great location, great staff and great product."

So how does the new and improved Lochmere play?

Golfers can expect a fun, pleasant round -- provided they can keep their ball out of the 10 lakes and ponds that dot the course and manage to avoid the punishing Swift Creek, which criss-crosses the back nine.

Compact and mostly flat, the par-71 course is ideal for walking. Fairways are tight, lined with abundant Carolina pines, and greens are well-bunkered, so accuracy is key. And take your time reading your putts -- the breaks are subtle, and a bad read will result in a greatly inflated score.

"This is a placement golf course," Operations Manager Anthony Adams said. "You have to be strategic about where you place the ball."

Keep your drive straight to the 150-yard marker, he said, and you'll have a great chance at scoring.

Raleigh resident Sanghi Cho has a single-digit handicap yet recommends the course for any level of golfer.

"For low handicappers, it's a confidence booster," Cho said. "But for the high handicapper, it's not so hard that you don't get rewarded for good shots. It's not very long but long enough."

Non-members at this semi-private course will pay around $59 at peak hours, but deals can be had on weekdays and off-hours -- and seniors, students and service members are offered great discounts.

Lochmere Golf Club: The verdict

If you're looking for an exclusive, expensive enclave, look elsewhere. But if you're looking for a golfer friendly, well conditioned, firm but fair golf course at a price point that won't break the bank, you may be calling Lochmere your new golf home.

The key word, as Adams put it, is "comfort." "Every level of golfer can feel comfortable," said Adams. "We promise, you won't leave here grumpy."

The Lochmere Golf Club is a one-stop shop offering a full, 25-spot range, a 7,000-square-foot putting green, a practice bunker and chipping green, golf instruction including video analysis and, as an added perk, a members-only range in the back.

The course runs junior programs, golf camps and clinics. And look for the Club Corp Golf Academy, opening soon.

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Lochmere Golf Club in Cary, N.C.Lochmere Golf ClubLochmere G.C. in Cary, North Carolina

Jennifer Mario is a regular contributor to the TravelGolf Network and the author of "Michelle Wie: The Making of a Champion" (St. Martin's Griffin, 2006). A graduate of Duke University, she lives in the Triangle area of North Carolina with her family.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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