You just don't see this every day on a golf course, as you do at Mountain Air.
I won't easily forget the day I spent 18 months ago at Mountain Air near Burnsville, NC, just about 35 minutes northwest of Asheville. It isn't every day that you wait for an airplane to land before you can cross a runway to get from green to next tee. Or hit a six-iron 200 yards (assisted by thin air and about five stories of elevation). Or watch a plane set down not 60 yards away from your table at the 19th hole. Or drive your golf cart about a half-mile to the practice tee. This kind of experience at almost 5,000 feet is cool, literally and figuratively (about 15 degrees (F) cooler than down in Asheville on a July day).
The landing strip and golf course share the top of the mountain at Mountain Air. The course, by little known architect Scott Pool, is a roller coaster affair, with unusually small greens, some of them perched on the edge of the mountain. The golf is not for the faint of heart, but the views out along the Blue Ridge Mountains are dramatic and exhilarating.
The developers, the local Banks family, are adding another nine holes to the original 18, to be named the Banks Creek Nine. A new development of maintenance-free single-family homes, called Spring Rock, will look out over the new course. Each home will feature almost 2,600 square feet of living space and three or four bedrooms. Although prices were not available, we'd expect them to come in from the mid to high six figures. The community's Cabins at Creekside, slightly smaller detached single-family homes, run $400,000 to $650,000, and the Hawks Ledge Cottages, slightly larger, from $650,000 to $1 million.
Mountain Air has done a great job of situating home sites with commanding views. Not surprisingly, the community appeals to well-heeled professional and amateur pilots. It also employs a full-time naturalist to take club members on discovery walks amid the wide range of flora and fauna; I was particularly impressed by the list of animals that local home owners had spotted, indicated on the blackboard outside the nature office.
On the busiest days of the summer season, a dozen planes might take off and land on the airstrip, triggering warning lights and alarms between the fifth green on one side and the sixth tee on the other side of the runway. Yet in the dead of winter, the mountaintop can be a little lonely with as few as 10 percent of owners staying on property, although the clubhouse will make special arrangements for those who desire the romance of a dinner by the fireplace; the club will even call in a chef for the evening.
For a pilot and/or naturalist and/or golfer, Mountain Air is high and mighty.
Note: The Mountain Air website isn't long on information, especially about the golf course, but they do offer to send a DVD if you are interested. Overnight stays in one of their mountain lodges is $199 per night which includes breakfast for two and the obligatory tour of the community's real estate offerings.
The plug at the tee box says "215 yards, Plays like 155." And it did.