Mike Steele has been the head golf professional at Champion Hills, a renowned course and country club in Hendersonville, for the last 18 years.
“I love this area. Hendersonville is more my pace,” Steele said. “Growing up in Florida, it was always ‘go go go.’ But, coming up here, the way of life is more casual and laid back. And you also have the beauty of the four seasons.”
Ranked the Number 1 year-round course in Western North Carolina by Golf Digest magazine, Champion Hills is part of The Executive Golfer Collection. This exclusive collection gives members access to over 115 private luxury golf clubs around the country. And, according to Steele “what you see is what you get,” which is a unique and quality golfing experience.
“Very rarely do you have a blind shot out here—14 out of the 18 holes tee off from an elevated tee box. This is a mountain course, but it isn’t your typical mountain course,” Steele said. “At some of the other mountain courses, what looks uphill plays downhill. It’s very playable here, and our team does a tremendous job of maintaining the property so you can play it year round.”
Hovering between 2,500–3,000 feet in elevation, Champion Hills is home to 300 families from dozens of states, many of whom live year round on the property. Besides golfing, other amenities include dining, recreation opportunities, a fitness center, and continual onsite activities—all within the endless beauty, art, culture, and outdoors of Asheville and greater Western North Carolina.
The son of a golf professional, Steele fell in love with the sport at an early age. Following college, he soon became a professional, only to find himself with a position at Champion Hills in 2000.
“Being a golf pro is the only thing I ever saw myself doing,” Steele said. “I’m not confined to sitting at a desk for eight hours a day. I like being outside, and also trying to create a memorable experience each and every day with members and their guests. And that’s about always being present and visible.”
As an instructor, Steele must gauge where members and guests are in their abilities and skill sets, and then work from there.
“I’m TPI certified, so I focus on physical limitations and how to work with what you can and cannot do,” Steele said. “I definitely focus on the fundamentals. I don’t try to reinvent golf swings. I take what you have and make it better, perhaps to play better later in life or for longer periods of time.”
Now almost two decades into his career, Steele doesn’t take his profession for granted. Rather, he soaks in every moment he can on the course, where each day provides new and important experiences.
“You continually learn about yourself. There are challenges on the course, and how you handle them can also be applied to your daily life off the course,” Steele said. “It’s about patience, how to react in situations. It’s all about having a game plan, taking it one shot at a time, trying not to get ahead of yourself, and hoping for a good score at the end of your round. The same goes for life.”