Sitting at 3,400 feet above sea level on five acres of the Sylva, N.C. property in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the “3-D” facility is designed to be a driving range, pitch-and-putt or par-3 course.
Balsam Mountain Preserve, a conservation-oriented residential community in Sylva, N.C. in the Blue Ridge Mountains, recently unveiled Palmer Practice Park, a new state-of-the-art golf practice facility designed by the Arnold Palmer Design Company. The facility is located just steps away from Doubletop Village, an upcoming mountain hamlet of 23 new residential cottages, dining and recreational amenities all currently under development and scheduled to open in early 2020.
The uniqueness of the Palmer Practice Park stems from its design, which represents golf’s evolving nature by providing a richer, more interactive golf experience compared to standard one-dimensional driving ranges. The new Park also opens up the game to golfers of all ages and skill sets with the built-in flexibility to play as a par-3 course or a “choose your own adventure” pitch-and-putt. The hybrid nature of the facility is designed to help Balsam Mountain Preserve continue to attract an increasing amount of multi-generational families to the expanding community.
“Arnold Palmer’s mission was to share his love for the game in hopes of growing the sport,” says Thad Layton, Vice President and Senior Architect for Arnold Palmer Design Company. “Balsam Mountain Preserve is staying true to that mission with the new Palmer Practice Park. As one of the few golf courses implementing this radical design, it is leading the charge in introducing golf to a whole new generation.”
As one of only a handful of existing golf parks within the United States, Palmer Practice Park will provide Balsam residents with an exclusive, one-of-a-kind golfing experience in an unparalleled natural setting. Sitting at 3,400 feet above sea level, the park is centrally located between the 10th hole and the new Village Center and will overlook the Arnold Palmer Signature golf course and Plott Balsam Mountain Range.
Spanning five acres, the practice facility will feature six unique greens, three bunkers and multiple teeing grounds, creating an unlimited number of ways to set the course up day to day. This variety will ensure the course never plays the same way twice, while also promoting a low-pressure, smaller-scale game that will appeal to golfers of all abilities. Players will still have the option of a practice range with a full length of 260 yards, in addition to the par-3 and pitch-and-putt course options.
“A driving range that doubles as a par-3 course is quite rare. Typically, the targets on a driving range are not puttable due to the barrage of balls and resulting pitch marks,” says Layton. “We overcame that obstacle at the Palmer Practice Park by partnering with Tour Greens to create synthetic surfaces that would look and play like real greens without having to worry about repairing pitch marks. This gives us the ability to shift gears from a range to a par-3 setup without delay.”
The completion of Palmer Practice Park marks the introduction of another new amenity at Balsam Mountain Preserve, which earlier this year introduced the newly renovated Ruby Valley Fitness and Wellness Pavilion. Up next, the community will present the Outpost, a 1,200-sq.-ft. multi-function space rebuilt using live oak logs hand hewn in the early 1700s and recovered from Fort Thicketty, a Revolutionary War stronghold at the headwaters of the Pacolet River in upstate South Carolina. Featuring views looking up toward the Great Smoky Mountains, the Outpost will provide an additional unique place for golfers and hikers to pause.
Doubletop Village, currently under development and scheduled to open in early 2020, will mark the third and final new amenity within this phase of development. The 23 new residential cottages will sit next to the village center, which will include the Members’ Grille, Club Tavern and General Store as well as a curated Organic Garden and Great Lawns.
The Members’ Grille features indoor and outdoor dining, a demonstration kitchen, private dining and a dedicated wine tasting room. Located just across the terrace from the Members’ Grille, The Club Tavern will offer residents a casual dining option with regional craft beers and special grill menu.
Across the Great Lawns sits the General Store & Golf House where Balsam residents can collect their mail and pick up everyday provisions, including grab-and-go meals. In addition, the pro shop will offer a full selection of golf, fitness and hiking apparel.
Lastly, spread across Doubletop Village, the Activity Lawns will feature spectacular mountain vistas and abundant space for recreational activities such as bocce and croquet. Also nestled here will be The Community Garden which will supply vegetables and herbs to the Members’ Grille and Club Tavern.
Other amenities and activities at Balsam Mountain Preserve include an Arnold Palmer Signature golf course, equestrian center, sports and wellness center, pool, nature center, tennis courts, and guided hiking, fishing and camping opportunities. The Great Lawn offers bocce, croquet, badminton, putting green and other sports.