When a Riddle is Not a Conundrum

Solve this riddle: The centerpiece golf course inside Fayetteville's first gated golf community opened in 1967. In 1974, a new owner (J.P. Riddle) came in and had a manned gate installed. Today there are two entrances to the property. Why then is it called Gates Four?

A Daunting Tee Shot at Gates Four G&CC

This question was posed to the son of Gates Four Golf & Country Club's original developer, who also happens to be a riddle in name only - Joe Riddle.

According to the current owner, Joe Riddle, prior to the construction of the golf course the property operated as a swim and boating club. "At one time, the former farmland was owned by a man who built the 40-acre lake and called it 'Lakewood,'" says Riddle.

"It had miniature golf, a lifeguard stand, boats, a restaurant, showers, covered patio, a juke box, even an island in the middle of the lake with a zoo on it."

In 1966 a group of investors bought the land and did away with the previous venture. They brought in architect Willard Byrd to route a championship golf course. The semiprivate layout was called "Irongate" and operated out of the original lake building from 1969 to 1974, up until Joe's father J.P. took over and turned it into a private enterprise.

Here's where the gates start to multiply.

"There was an old iron gate on the property, and my dad and his associate didn't want to take all of the name (Irongate) away, but they needed a new name for residential marketing purposes," explains Riddle. "There never was thought that there would be four gates to the project, but there were plans for four different types of living inside.

"So they named it Gates Four. 'Gates' comes from Irongate and the 'Four' signified the residential components - single-family executive homes, patio houses, condos and a lodge or apartment rentals for golfers to visit and stay overnight."

Unfortunately, the last element never fully materialized. "We really should be called 'Gates Three,'" says Riddle with a laugh.

So there you have it.

And visitors to Fayetteville, N.C., can have it too, now that the formerly private Gates Four has returned to its original semiprivate status. Of course, the name isn't the only attraction at Gates Four Golf & Country Club. There's history and an atmosphere that can only be found at a course based on country-club values. For those who don't belong, they still can get that special treatment at the now-semiprivate facility and regularly play behind the gates.

Since its grand reopening in May 2011, Gates Four has been entertaining members, guests and visitors at its course, three-story clubhouse, and dining at JP's Bar and Grill. For those looking at a stopover in Fayetteville or for a multi-day stay, a round at this offering is a no-brainer.

General manager Kevin Lavertu is no stranger to the golf industry, especially as it applies to the North Carolina Sandhills variety. A former Methodist College golfer and graduate of the school's Golf Course Management Program in 2001, Lavertu's first job after college was assistant pro at Gates Four. He then went to Bayonet at Puppy Creek in Raeford, N.C., as the head professional, was general manager at Fayetteville's Baywood Golf Club, and then spent several years in Hilton Head, S.C., working for ClubCorp.

Lavertu is now back where his professional career began. In addition to its "private club" attributes, Gates Four features an ideal location, just seven miles off I-95 and centrally situated between Cypress Lakes and Bayonet at Puppy Creek. This is appealing for golfers looking to play 36 holes in a day.

The 6,900-yard Gates Four course enjoys large setbacks from the neighboring homes as it winds across varied elevation changes in full view of the large community lake left over from its "Lakewood" days. Where Gates Four is one of Byrd's earlier works, Bayonet at Puppy Creek, located not far away, is one of his later ones.

"Gates Four is more classic and traditional, than say, Bayonet, which has a modern feel," says Lavertu. "There are no real tricks, no blind shots, everything is right out in front of you. It has changing slopes, undulation and you find yourself never using the same club twice. It forces you to have precise iron shots and work the ball both left to right and right to left."

For more information about golf in and around Fayetteville, visit www.GolfOnTheReady.com or call 800/805-5031.