The Governor’s Club is at the highest end of the communities we surveyed in the Chapel Hill area. It has the cachet not only of a Jack Nicklaus Signature 27-hole layout, but also the most carefully tended topography and house designs in the area. Rock outcroppings line the undulating roads in the community and frame dramatically designed homes, many perched on hills that provide unimpeded and lusty views of the golf course below.
The community is also the best positioned of the Chapel Hill golf properties. It is a mere 25-minute ride to Raleigh/Durham International airport, a major hub for American Airlines. Both the Duke and University of North Carolina medical schools and their well-regarded hospitals are relatively close –- UNC just 10 minutes away and Duke a half hour. With three renowned universities in close proximity (the other is NC State), the culture and entertainment options are plentiful. Two nationally rated restaurants –- The Fearington House and Il Palio –- are within 20 minutes. Sporting events, both collegiate and professional, are part of the fabric of life in this part of the Carolinas, and a number of Governor’s Club residents hold coveted season tickets to UNC and Duke basketball games, as well as for the hockey Hurricanes, who play in Raleigh, just a half hour outside the community’s gates. A recent-vintage shopping center is within 15 minutes and is anchored by a Nordstrom.
Governor’s Club, which comprises 1,600 acres, opened in 1988, with the first 18 holes of the golf course open for play in 1990. Almost all the original 1,200 lots have been sold, and the community is 75% built out. A few lots are currently on the resale market at prices ranging from $75,000 to $500,000. House sizes and prices run the gamut, from roughly $450,000 to more than $3 million.
Governor’s Club residents are willing to pay the highest tariffs in Chapel Hill to keep the community private, professional and pristine. Full golf membership is $30,000 (non-equity), with monthly dues of $550 (above average for the communities we have visited, and there is a current additional assessment of $30 per month for capital improvements). Dining room minimums, at $800 a year, are comparatively steep but ensure the restaurants are always busy and sharp and competitively priced (the food is excellent). Property owner annual dues of about $1,400 are quite reasonable for a high-quality community with 26 miles of roads and long stretches of sidewalks. It is also the only gated golf community in Chapel Hill.
The Nicklaus course is divided into the original “Lower 18” and the Mountain Course, which was added in 1995. Like the community itself, the nines go through many elevation changes; the Mountain nine is reminiscent of courses in the western part of the state. Several lakes and streams come into play, many reinforced by attractive stone walls, and the dramatic rock outcroppings along the course are not just there to embellish the views; they come into play as well. Native grasses and plantings, thankfully not out of bounds stakes, complete the scenery. Surprisingly, given the elevation changes, the course attracts a devoted group of walkers
Jack being Jack, the course is challenging, with a rating of 75.1 and slope of 144 from the tips (at 7,062 yards) and forcing high shots into many greens. Choosing the correct tee box for your round may be the most important decision you make all day, although it is hard to envision an easy round from anywhere but the front two of the five choices. The undulating greens and testing lies, even in the fairways, ensure you will not ever be bored. There are memorable holes on the course; one prime example is #4 on the Foothills Course, a par 5 with a third shot over a creek bed to an elevated green. Between the creek bed and the green, and 30 feet below the putting surface, is a huge bunker. Hit it there and you will be flying blind on your next shot, and maybe the one or two after it as well.
Choose to live at Governor’s Club, however, and you won’t be flying blind at all.