Here’s a great escape for golfers looking for a prime destination in 2018: In recent years, North Carolina’s fabled Outer Banks has started to transform into a true golf destination – offering an array of courses more closely tied to nature’s coastal elements than most along the East Coast.
“The Outer Banks has everything a golfer is looking for when going on a golf vacation – well-manicured courses, great restaurants, a variety of housing options and unique activities other than golf,” said long-time Kilmarlic Golf Club Director of Golf Bryan Sullivan, a former North-South Amateur champion and an All-America at the University of North Carolina.
Kilmarlic Golf Club is a popular Tom Steele design that is located along the marshland of the Albemarle Sound. It was host course for 2004 and 2009 North Carolina Opens and is only five miles west of the bridge that connects the mainland to the barrier island.
“In 10 minutes,” Sullivan said, “I can have my feet in the Atlantic Ocean.”
In terms of its setting, with several holes playing along a rugged coastline Nags Head Golf Links is one of the more exposed golf facilities to the wind along the state’s coast. A Scottish-style course, Nags Head is also considered one of the finest courses on the East Coast. The capricious breezes off sound-side waters create different challenges every time you play it.
Designed by Bob Moore, the Nags Head layout incorporates the best of links-style golf against a backdrop as dramatic as you’ll find anywhere up and down the Atlantic Seaboard.
Nags Head’s bar and restaurant, not surprisingly, is home to the most dramatic sunsets in town, with views not only across the immediate Roanoke Sound, but towards three other sounds (Albemarle, Croatan and Pamlico) that flow into it from the north, west and south.
Currituck Club is “sculpted on the type of land where golf began,” says its architect, the renowned Rees Jones, who designed a 6,800-yard masterpiece among 600 acres of dunes, wetlands, maritime forests and sound seascapes. There is plenty of water on the course, most of it on the front nine, but unlike Nags Head, most of the water at Currituck Club comes in the form of marsh and wetlands.
You won’t find a weak hole at Currituck and the par-3s are particularly stunning, including two that play over water. The best is arguably the signature sixth, located at the hub of the front nine where four holes converge, which plays anywhere from 150 to 200 yards over water, with views of the sound off in the background.
The Pointe Golf Club is located on the rural mainland side of OBX and across the four-lane highway from Kilmarlic. A traditional Russell Breeden design, the course is also said to be the first in the country to have the A-1 Bentgrass – a dense, disease-resistant strain – installed across its corridors.
The Pointe is also the area’s most player-friendly design and features a peaceful setting with no houses. In fact, it is the only course in the area that is not in a residential community.
Meanwhile, the seventh hole at The Carolina Club is one of the most memorable offerings along the entire North Carolina coast. An island green aged to perfection can create that kind of legend. The 166-yard hole features a TPC Sawgrass-type island green with water, water everywhere.
But The Carolina Club is more than a one-hole wonder. The Pointe’s sister course features a strong mix of holes with several scenic par-3s (in addition to its signature island green No. 7) and two good risk-reward par-5s to complete each nine.