Rock Barn Golf & Spa is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains about an hour north of Charlotte and features 36 holes of award-winning golf. Both courses are extremely picturesque, yet dramatically challenging. The 18-hole Robert Trent Jones II layout is the more challenging of Rock Barn’s courses and is truly a championship course. It takes full advantage of the terrain as well as Lyle Creek, which meanders throughout the property. The Jones Course was awarded best new Course in the state by North Carolina magazine in 2003. It was also chosen by the PGA as an annual stop for the PGA TOUR’s Champions Tour event the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn. The Tom Jackson Course is the shorter, less demanding of the two award-winning courses, but still requires precise shotmaking. Built in 1963, it features a number of elevation changes and demands that you put emphasis on positioning the ball in the fairway. This signature course appeals to golfers of all levels and handicaps.
As of May 2016, the Jones course is now private and no longer open to public play. Memberships are available. In addition to world class golf, the club offers both casual and fine dining, a full-service spa, a fitness center, an outdoor swimming complex, a spacious tennis complex and a variety of real estate opportunities. Golf, dining and spa services are open to the public 7 days a week year-round.
First played the Jackson course (which is the one this site will feature reviews on) in April 2020. I absolutely love it -- truly a resort style course given the conditions and the amenities. The Jackson course can play pretty short (~6000yds) unless you hit from the very back ("Tournament") tees -- which means if you can keep your driver in play, you'll have wedges into the par 4's and chances to reach the par 5's in two. Almost all of the par 3's and several of the other holes require carries over water, offering lots of risk-reward choices throughout your round. The Bentgrass greens are typically quick and kept in great shape. There are many great holes on both 9's. Your tee shot on the par 4 5th hole will make or break you -- if you are able to catch the downslope in the fairway you could be right in front of the green, but if you don't... you might have a long iron in to a green that sits at the bottom of the valley with bunkers short and water long. The par 3 6th hole requires a scary shot downhill over water -- tough to get the distance just right. The short downhill, 90-degree dogleg left par 5 10th hole is a big risk-reward hole. If you drive it down the left side of the fairway, you might have less than 200yds into the green but it will be all carry over water. The par 4 15th hole may require less than driver off the tee to ensure you don't run into the pond at the end of the fairway. Don't be too conservative though because your approach will have to carry that pond! Overall this course is a great combination of fun, challenge and great conditions. Add in the low rack rates and the value is unmatched.
Rock Barn continues to be my favorite course within an hour of Charlotte – and it stretches that radius to the max as it's located in Conover just west of Statesville. The course is well worth the drive, however, and the price. At $65 for a weekday round and $75 on weekends, Rock Barn is still a great value for what you get. The Tom Jackson course is the public track but the resort also has a private Robert Trent Jones, Jr. course for members only. Both courses share the same clubhouse and practice area, which are resort quality. The practice putting green is by far the largest I know of in the Carolinas and it allows you to practice those 200-foot putts if you want a fun challenge. The Jackson course is a par-71 layout that tips out at only 6427 yards. So you may feel it plays short, but your first shot will have to carry 180-200 yards uphill across a hazard to reach the short grass. Several holes feature dramatic elevation changes, both downhill and uphill on tee shots and approaches. With the shorter length, you get some fun risk-reward choices throughout the round, none more exciting than the 10th hole. This downhill then dogleg left par 5 is one of my favorite public course holes in the area. If you hit a good drive, you should only have 200 or less yards to reach the green. However, that shot will be 90% carry over water! I didn't trust my 210-yard carry and so I laid up to about 80 yards during my round to give myself a birdie putt. One of the signature stretches is Nos. 5 and 6. No. 5 is a narrow par 4 tee shot with a severely downhill approach to a green that falls off the back into a pond. That same pond surrounds the front and right side of the par 3 No. 6 hole that plays dramatically downhill. And speaking of dramatically downhill, the par 3 9th hole is another long tee shot over a hazard with a 100-foot drop from tee to green. The back nine closes with a fun stretch from Nos. 15 to 18, again with elevation changes and ponds in play. The closing hole requires an uphill approach shot to one of the largest greens on the course that protects par with a two-tiered, back-to-front steep slope. Overall, this layout is very memorable and fun to play, which is one of my criteria for the Top 10 list. The course is part of the Rock Barn Resort & Spa and so the amenities (which include a very nice public bar/bistro and a members-only restaurant) are top-notch. Your range balls are included in your round, making the price even better by comparison to other Charlotte courses that charge another $6-$8 for a bucket. Not to give too much away (the new Top 10 list will be out in a few weeks) but Rock Barn was No. 1 last year for good reasons and not much has changed. NOTE: the course will be aerated next week. So give it a few weeks to recover.Read The Review
I arrived at 940am for a 1040am tee time. There are no markings on the three buildings that share the same address on the GPS. The Club House is the building with the 3 flags flying in front. You drive around behind this building for the bag drop. There will be an attendant who will provide your cart and load your bag and direct you to the back door of the Pro Shop. I made my way down to the driving range and began to hit some balls which are included in the $75 green fee which also includes the cart. I made my way to the #1 hole which was not marked. The carts have GPS so it did say 'Jackson' and hole #1 even though there is no yardage marker on the 1st hole I was told there would be a starter named Grant to check me in and confirming my pairing, there was no starter. I waited a few minutes and saw another cart coming down the path. I introduced myself and it was Ted & Carmen. A local couple who had played the course several times. They explained the GPS operation on the cart and impressed upon me the importance of staying within distance parameters of the greens. If you go too far, you'll hear a loud beep and text on the GPS screen instructing you to 'put your cart in reverse back to the cart path' Happy to be paired with some locals who explained this as the cart attendant never said a word nor did anyone at the Pro Shop on check in. For the most part the course is top tier for a public course, The tee boxes are well marked and in very good condition. The fairways were not so great. Very sparse with grass in areas, it's been a while since they had some rain and it showed. The greens were in really good condition, they are mostly large and very undulating creating challenges. Most every green is gudarded by at least one bunker There are ponds on many holes but no creeks My favorite hole was The Signature #6 a Par 3. From an elevated tee box you look down 150 yards to the pin. There is a massive pond on the right and trees guarding on the left. There are 3 large bunkers on the left side which slope down the to the green. I nailed my tee shot, my red Callaway sailed beautifully and landed on the green and bounced a little before stopping about 25 feet from the cup. The round took about 4 hours total. We called ahead to order food on the 9th tee box & food was ready in the bar/restaurant when we arrived. At $75 it's more than I would normally pay for a public and non-resort type course. I will have to think long and hard about another 1.5 hour trip here from Fort Mill, SC but it's #1 on the B-Man's ranking of the top 10 courses so it's now checked off!Read The Review
Go play Rock Barn. You won't regret it. It's a good 50-minute drive up Hwy 16 from Charlotte (you'll pass Verdict Ridge on your way), but you will be well rewarded for making the trip. The club feels like a resort with 36 holes (the Jones course is private, however), a spa, tennis courts, pool, and a couple of restaurants onsite. Range balls are included in your fee – which, at $65 for a weekend round, is still a great value compared to the $75+ rates at a few courses in Charlotte. The club features the largest practice putting green I've ever seen. So if you need to practice those 100-foot putts, Rock Barn will be your jam. The Jackson Course is the public track but it is kept in great condition. The Bentgrass greens were in great shape and rolled quick and true. A few of the greens can be really tough due to the slopes – during our round, the pins on 11, 13 and 18 were treacherous. The course plays short, giving you many chances to hit less than driver off the tee. Risk-reward choices abound, but none more tricky than the par 5 10th hole – where even the layup makes you consider how much of the water-guarded dogleg to bite off. The par 6th hole is one of the signature holes with a long downhill carry over water. During our round, it played as nearly a 190-yard shot with a stiff wind in our face. Bogey won this hole in our group. I love playing here when I get a chance to make the drive. As the days get longer, it'd be a good one to pair with Verdict Ridge or River Oaks for a 36-hole marathon. I highly recommend the hot dog at the Fresh Chef cafe in the clubhouse at the turn and the chicken quesadillas afterward. Last thing – see my note in the Forum about aeration dates. Rock Barn will aerate the Jackson course on April 11th.Read The Review
This course is a bit of a hike from Charlotte, but definitely worth the trip a couple of times every year. Fun mix of challenging and scoreable holes. Jackson Course was wet from all of the rain earlier this week, and it showed in the fairways and tee boxes in spots. The greens were in solid shape and rolled true. $55 on a Saturday morning is about as good as it gets in the area. $25 replay rate makes for an affordable 36 hole day as well.Read The Review
My first time at Rock Barn (Jackson course) and my first perfect rating of the year. The course was in immaculate condition tee to green. The layout is fun, challenging and score-able. It only cost $35 for a weekday afternoon with range balls included. And if it weren't for the pandemic I would have enjoyed the restaurant and amenities as well. This is a great resort course that is more than worth the hour's drive from Charlotte. And it is less than 15 minutes from another top 10 course in our area -- River Oaks. So if you want to make a weekend of it or play 36 in one day, pair these two courses together. Of course, Rock Barn has a Robert Trent Jones II course as well, but it is now members only and private since 2016. Look for some photos from the course on my Instagram (@charlottegolfer). I can't wait to go back and play Rock Barn again!Read The Review