The Waynesville Inn, Golf Resort & Spa
When asked why he loves Western North Carolina, Travis Smith had to pause for a moment. “Well, that’s a good question,” he chuckled. “It’s special to me because I’ve been here most of my life. I love the mountains, the people. You’re away from the cities, from all the traffic and noise.”
Director of Golf at The Waynesville Inn, Smith oversees the day-to-day course operations, making sure locals and visitors who eagerly arrive to play also leave ready to come back for more.
“My job is to make sure everything is taken care of to ensure you have a great time out there,” he said.
The property houses three 9-hole courses. “Blue Ridge” and “Dogwood” are more mountainous, while “Carolina” is flatter. These variations provide challenges for seasoned pros and easy-to-navigate playing surfaces for novice golfers.
“What’s really attractive on our courses is that they aren’t extremely long,” Smith said. “A lot of new courses being built are very long and that can be too much. Our courses give families, kids and older folks a chance to really come out, play and have fun at their own pace.”
Originally a dairy farm, The Waynesville Inn, Golf Resort & Spa opened in 1926 as the Waynesville Country Club. The Carolina “9” was designed by Donald Ross, considered the most prolific golf architect in the history of the sport. Ross’ intent was to construct courses that were not only challenging, but also accessible for all skill levels and aesthetically pleasing, too.
Playing host to the likes of PGA legends Sam Snead, Chi-Chi Rodriquez and Arnold Palmer, the business has maintained an identity for decades as a mountain destination for golf enthusiasts and those simply looking to get away from it all.
“With three courses and 27 holes, you could play two days in a row and get a different combination of courses,” Smith said. “Our courses are for every level of player — it’s all about having fun and enjoying yourself.”
Smith himself grew up in Waynesville. He was introduced to the game of golf and took his first lessons at the inn.
“I started coming here at an early age, around 9 years old, and took lessons from golf pro Duane Page,” he said.
Now 38, it’s a full circle experience for Smith in now directing the golf operations at the exact course where he got his first taste of golf. And even though he’s played those courses innumerable times, hitting the links and being surrounded by the 360-degree mountain views doesn’t ever get stale for him.
“It never gets old,” he said. “I enjoy the scenery and having that fresh mountain air, to be able to play some golf and take time to make a birdie — it’s what it’s all about.”