While seeking a plot of land to build a house, Deena Wade and Larry Deal decided to buy the entire adjacent 80-acre plot to create Jack’s Mountain Preserve. With a goal “preserving the integrity of the land,” the couple is keeping the golf course, conserving the top of the mountain, revamping the cafe, and building a community garden.
Deena Wade and Larry Deal started out with a simple plan: find a scenic, quiet place to live. They found Jack’s Mountain, which overlooks the former Old Fort (N.C.) Golf Course, the Black Mountain (N.C.) News reported.
Deal found out that the golf course owned the peak of the small mountain. “I talked to (the golf course) about buying a lot, and they had one for sale that we liked,” Deal said. “We made an offer, and they told us they had to let us know the golf course was for sale. I came home and talked to Deena, and she said ‘I’m not interested.’”
Deal and Wade were concerned about the future of the land if the golf course were purchased, the News reported.
“We know what people do with golf courses when they buy them,” Deal said. “I have a friend in Florida who lives on a fairway of a beautiful golf course for 18 years, and now he has a new condo in his backyard. Because that’s what they do to golf courses, because golf courses are losing money.”
But as Wade and Deal walked the property, they couldn’t help but be inspired by the possibilities presented by the platted, mountainside lots surrounding the lush greens of the golf course. So they bought the entire 80-acre site. They named their development Jack’s Mountain Preserve in honor of the landmark that first piqued their interest, the News reported.
“We really wanted to preserve the integrity of the land here,” Wade said. “We didn’t want to come in here and make it unrecognizable and build on every possible inch. We want to keep as many of the trees as possible, and we’re looking at putting the top of the mountain into a conservation easement.”
They decided to keep the golf course, which was designed by John R. Van Kleek. The Old Fort Golf Course, built by local residents, opened in 1962. It has been reanmed Jack’s Mountain Golf Course. “The course was a labor of love, and we wanted to preserve it,” Deal said.
With the mountaintop and golf course protected, Deal and Wade’s vision for Jack’s Mountain Preserve began to come into focus. They wanted to create a place that was appealing to young and older people that would feel like home for residents and be a destination for people looking for a peaceful mountain setting, the News reported.
They brought on Fred Edwards to manage the golf course. He suggested the development offer FootGolf, a nationally popular sport that borrows heavily from the rules of golf, but requires only a soccer ball. The golf course bought new golf carts to improve the overall experience at the nine-hole course, the News reported.
The existing cafe was revamped and re-branded the Farm to Grill Cafe, focused on locally sourced ingredients. Currently under construction is a community garden that will also supply the cafe. On the second floor of the clubhouse, above the cafe, is an event space that is currently home to weekly yoga classes, women’s self-defense classes and martial arts lessons, the News reported.
The idea, according to Wade, is to create a sustainable community where recreational opportunities abound, the News reported.
“We’ll eventually be hosting private events, such as weddings, family gatherings, retreats, things like that,” she said. “We have plans to develop trails to the top of (Jack’s Mountain) too.
The golf course has served as a backdrop for concerts. By next spring Deal and Wade hope to have sites for “glamping,” which is short for a glamorous sort of camping, the News reported.
“We’re going to have safari-style tents that will have a real bed and a dresser in them,” Wade said. “We have a spot we’ve already selected where we’ll have around four sites. It will be a fun outdoor experience for people to be outdoors, and then they can walk right over (to the clubhouse) to use one of the showers, grab something to eat from the cafe and maybe go play some FootGolf.”
For people looking for something more permanent, slightly more than 40 home lots are available. There are four options for those interested in building at Jack’s Mountain Preserve, the News reported.
“This property is a gem in the pocket of Old Fort,” Wade said. “We want to use it for its highest and best purpose so it benefits the community and so that people from all around can enjoy everything it has to offer.”