If there’s a golf course development in the Triangle on the verge of something special it has to be The Club at 12 Oaks.
The private club located in Holly Springs was opened just prior to the 2008 economic recession and had a difficult beginning, but has since re-launched its brand South Carolina-based manager Land-Tech Inc and banking giant Wells Fargo.
The Club at 12 Oaks has a long list of selling points on and off the golf course as witnessed by 48 homes now under construction ranging from just under $200,000 to over $700,000 and 53 homes sold year-to-date in the sprawling community – an impressive number considering the current state of the housing market.
The Triangle has been one of the fastest growing areas in the country for more than a decade with rapid development gobbling up large tracts of lands for everything from strip malls to highway expansions. However, 12 Oaks sits on a rugged piece of unspoiled property in the southwest corner of Wake Country that is peaceful and eye-catching for both property owners and golfers.
“You definitely will experience a wild kingdom type of feel when you play out here,” said 12 Oaks director of golf Chad Kufen. “You will see deer, other animals and creatures if you’ve out in the late afternoon, and you definitely hear sounds in the wetlands and marshes.”
The 7,132-yard Nicklaus Design Group layout is truly unique for the area, mixing topography of lowlands (a Charleston feel) with holes that rival a North Carolina mountain layout.
“You don’t realize you’re in Wake County,” says Kufen, who took over as 12 Oaks director of golf in June 2010 after five years at Raleigh Country Club.
The golf course will keep your attention, and then some. With hazards on 17 of 18 holes and a slope rating of 146, accuracy is a necessity. In other words, listen to your head and not your heart most of the time when teeing it up at 12 Oaks.
“I would describe it as a position golf course, definitely of championship caliber,” Kufen says. “I say ‘position golf course’ because it’s not a get up and rip it golf course. You have to position the ball off the tee to score well. It definitely is a first shot golf course.
“I’m proud of the golf course because it is a challenge,” Kufen adds. “It is not a golf course that is going to demoralize you, but it’s a golf course that gives us the ability to host Carolinas Golf Association events and hopefully some USGA events in the future. Yes, it can be hard, but after you play once or twice you realize there is a lot more room out there to hit it than you first thought.”
And if you’re seeking a golf course with a variety of holes, with twists and turns, reachable par-5s and some short, risk-reward par-4s, 12 Oaks delivers on cue.
“You’ve got to think your way around the golf course, which is great,” says Nicklaus Design architect John Cope. “As a residential community, people are going to be playing this over and over again, and the challenge is there for them to enjoy it for years to come. If you play it the first time and you figure it out the first time through that makes for a good resort course because you’re probably not going to play it again, but for this type of golf course you want them to scratch their heads the first time through. That will keep them coming back.
“I don’t think there is anything that is unfair or tricky out there, it’s all visible and it’s all there — just don’t pull the diver out of the bag all the time. There are a few holes to place a safer shot with a 3-wood or 3-iron and there are bailout areas. As members invite their guests out to 12 Oaks they are going to have a good home course advantage.”
Most of the design follows the natural lay of the land, with Cope moving about 200,000 cubic yards of dirt – a very low number by today’s standards – considering 100,000 of the cubic yards was moved to dig out an irrigation lake.
“It stuck in there pretty nicely,” Cope says. “We had two ‘zones’ with the wetlands and the mountain areas, so we wanted to start golfers off in one area, and then you go up into the hills and then back down into the valley, and then you do the same on the back nine. It’s not like one nine is in the hills and the other nine is in the valley. It flows well in that regard. It was a nice synergy with what was there naturally and what we stuck in there as the golf course.”
Because of its affordable initiation fee, 12 Oaks has been equated to the infancy stages of Prestonwood Country Club, which now has 54 holes of golf, a state-of-the-art fitness center and three pools that serve a membership of more than 1,000.
“The reason some have compared 12 Oaks to Prestonwood is the potential of this facility,” Kufen says. “It’s a steal to join this country club today. It may not have a ballroom facility or all the groups of an established club yet, but it certainly will. If I was walking into here I would look at the money already spent because it would have been easy to throw up a trailer until we got enough members. We choose to take the route of ‘let’s give you the experience with customer service.”’
Within the last year, Wells Fargo funded a $1.5 million pro shop, grille, pool and banquet area, while an elaborate kids playground is scheduled to be completed this summer. And the golf course condition rivals any of the other private clubs in Wake Country, which now number more than 10, while the practice facility (with two acres of hitting area) is expansive and one of the best around.
Already convenient to residents of Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs because of the Highway 55 bypass, Kufen expects even more Triangle residents to discover 12 Oaks once a new section of Interstate 540 is completed by the end of 2012, dumping folks off an exit about one mile from the first tee.
“The main message is there is a heck of a golf course in this community,” Kufen says. “The club is moving forward with leaps and bounds and Holly Springs is definitely a town on the move from a growth standpoint.”
While 12 Oaks is a private club, preview rounds are now available by calling the club’s membership department. “We would love golfers to contact us, come on out and experience what 12 Oaks is all about,” Kufen says.
“Knowing the history of Jack Nicklaus and what he has done in his golfing career, his business career, just the fact that his group has designed this golf course brings a level of integrity to 12 Oaks,” Kufen adds. “Every detail was identified and it was done in a manner that was truly representative of his name. Whether it’s a Nicklaus signature course of a Nicklaus design it has his name on it and they make sure they produce the very best golf courses possible.”
For additional information on The Club at 12 Oaks log on to www.12OaksNC.com or call 919-285-3680.