By Patrick Kearney
Carolina Country Club, Raleigh Country Club, North Ridge Country Club, Brier Creek Country Club…I could go on for hours. The Raleigh area is home to some of the nicest country clubs in the state, with many more fancy establishments residing in Charlotte and surrounding areas. With all of these pristine places so close together, it is easy to forget about a humble little place called the University Club. Tucked between the NC State Vet School property and the beltline, The University Club (formerly the Faculty Club) has been around since 1961. It has recently- renovated tennis facilities, a par three golf course, two pools and a clubhouse that doesn’t come close to rivaling the aforementioned clubs but has left its members satisfied for as long as it has been in existence. I grew up going to golf, tennis and swim camp there every summer as a child. My roommates and I have been playing carefree rounds of par-three golf in casual attire there since I was in 7th grade. The course is relatively well maintained, and the holes are short enough to where you can get by with nothing more than a pitching wedge and a putter. The laid back atmosphere is what is so appealing about the club, and what has allowed it to remain a popular summer hangout spot for people of all ages. It is safe to say that the U Club will always have a place in our hearts, which is why it is so disheartening to hear what may eventually happen to it.
Recent developments have begun to take shape that may jeopardize the club’s ability to remain open. In a few years the city of Raleigh has plans to use the majority of the U Club’s land to build a new piece of the beltline due to Raleigh’s ever-growing population and traffic concerns. While the need for this new infrastructure cannot be denied, it was hard to really fathom that in a few years, we will no longer be able to head over to the course in our flip-flops and tank tops and get a quick round of 9 in. My girlfriend and I have made it a tradition to eat in the new sports bar in the clubhouse at least a couple times per month, with the fried pickles and BBQ Chicken Nachos bringing us back every single time.
There is a waiter that works in the clubhouse named Brian, and for Brian this sort of major change is nothing new. For those that remember the legendary Brothers Pizza on Hillsborough Street, (Rest in Peace) Brian was a longtime waiter there and would greet myself and my family with the same friendly service no matter how hectic his shift may have been. When Brothers closed down, he began working at Two Guys Pizza which was just a couple doors down, also a Hillsborough Street legend. As with most places around that area it seems, Two Guys bit the dust soon thereafter, and my man Brian was left yet again to find work. He got a call from the University Club, and has been serving the NC State faithful there ever since. There is no telling how many Wolfpackers Brian has served in his day, but for his sake I hope he can find another solid establishment to offer his services.
The University Club will never even come close to making any lists of nicest clubs or golf courses, however you will be hard pressed to find a club that has served its members as well as it has. The golf course backs right up to the cow pastures at the vet school, and my friend Cam Gottfried and I spent countless hours one summer trying to gather the courage to hop the fence, run and touch a cow and hop back with no repercussions. It did not take long before we drew the ire of the alpha Bull in the pasteur, and we left them well enough alone after that. I really hope that someone can provide a speck of land somewhere in the nearby area that will suffice as a relocation area for the club, but if that’s not the case, it’s been a heck of a ride at the ol’ University Club.