“It’s not by chance that our golf course rating has continued to improve over the years,” said Don E. Vance, CCM, CPC, Hound Ears Chief Operating Officer.
“It’s taken a lot of planning, hard work, dedication, and commitment to consistently improve our golf course, which has greatly enhanced our member’s golf experience,” he added.
A vast majority of the course’s continued rise in the rankings can be attributed to the “dynamic duo” teams led by Director of Agronomy Allen Storie and Director of Golf Peter Rucker.
“I am blessed to have a crew of men who care about each other, and practice stewardship to everyone around them,” Storie said. “The success and recognition that Hound Ears Club has achieved wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of our Golf Course Maintenance Team,” he added.
“They respect, honor, and help each other on a daily basis. I am privileged to work alongside what I believe are some of the best people in our industry. They listen and support me in decision-making and learn from each other.”
“The criteria for rankings not only includes golf course condition, but also playability and overall service provided,” Rucker said, adding, “North Carolina has some of the best facilities in the world. To be ranked #74 is a great accomplishment. As we strive for continued improvement, it would not be surprising to see better rankings in the years to come.”
An Avery County native, Storie graduated first in his class in Applied Science and Turfgrass Management Technology from Catawba Valley Community and Technical College in 2003.
While completing his studies, Storie completed a college internship and assisted course doctors at Rock Barn Golf and Spa and helped complete the construction of the club’s Robert Trent Jones Jr. course.
From 2003-08, Storie served as Assistant Superintendent at Grandfather Golf and Country Club. In 2008, he joined the team at Hound Ears Club as Assistant Superintendent and was promoted to Director of Agronomy/Head Superintendent in 2012.
“Those of us who play the Hound Ears course regularly are fully aware of its natural beauty and it’s impeccable condition thanks to Allen,” said Club member and Board of Directors President Dr. Jim Whicker.
Like Storie, Rucker has built his successful career on the links. He has been a golf professional for more than 30 years.
A member of the Appalachian State University golf team from 1979-83, Rucker joined the PGA in 1984 and carries Class A status. He has worked for Hound Ears for more than 30 years.
Appalachian alumnus Kent Shelton serves as head golf professional. Shelton has been a member of the PGA since 1995 and played on the ASU golf team from 1986-89.
Watauga County seasonal resident and North Carolina’s first Director of Travel and Tourism Bill Hensley has been a fan of the course since its construction in 1964.
“The golf course was designed by George Cobb and became an immediate asset as it is today. The scenic layout was often referred to “as the friendliest and most fun course in the state,” he said in a 2014 interview.
“I may have played as many as a thousand rounds of golf on the great golf course,” Hensley added.
Dubbed one of the top scenic mountain courses in America, the Hound Ears links meander along a verdant valley and across streams, lakes and waterfalls.
“With the ongoing improvements taking place, dedicated staff, enthusiastic membership, and support from all of us as individuals, I believe that our success achieved so far is only the beginning of what’s to come for Hound Ears Club,” Storie said.
The N.C. Golf Panel, which includes about 130 pros, coaches, noted amateurs and business leaders, has ranked Tar Heel courses for the past 21 years. For a course to make the list, a minimum of 40 votes is required.
The panel’s annual rankings are published in the April issue of Business North Carolina magazine and also within the pages of the group’s website.
Centrally located near Boone, Blowing Rock and Banner Elk, N.C., Hound Ears Club comprises 750 acres nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Club celebrated 50 years as a premier High Country private club and community. Memberships are available for homeowners and non-residents.