Legends live on down “Historic Albemarle Highway,” especially the sections of the northeastern North Carolina tour route that invite you into and through its famed Outer Banks. But while the wild-and-ancient horses of Corolla and the Kitty Hawk dunes off which the Wright Brothers recorded man’s first flight garner much of the fascination near the ocean, it is the lush fairways of golf on the mainland that are creating legacies of new proportions.
For it is offshore – shortly before you reach the light-colored sands of the coast and on both sides of the thoroughfare road (Highway 158) leading into OBX – that golf courses with the names like The Pointe, Kilmarlic and Carolina Club spread out across the landscape like oceans of their own. Seas of green that is. Sprinkled in and around these well-manicured havens are a few other attractions like the new H2OBX Water Park, the Gravedigger’s monster truck pit stop and of course a couple of barbecue joints (like Currituck BBQ) providing just enough fire and pit smoke to let you know you have indeed taken a bite out of tidal North Carolina.
Mainland life is truly not like it is on the Outer Banks proper. It is more rural and less touristy, with one-of-a-kind farm markets, a vineyard, antique and thrift shops and sprawling fields dominating the scenery rather than surfside hotels, light houses, homes on stilts, restaurants and bars that fill up many of the spaces between the many mileposts that creep southward along OBX’s exquisite coastline.
Golfers from far and wide for years have been lured to these award-winning layouts due to their water views, reasonable rates and tranquil settings. Though a few original old-time layouts have come and gone across the region, the modern ones that remain seem to get better year after year – a true testament to the dedicated ownership of each establishment.
Indeed. If there is one thing that this area has going for above all others it is its golf course escapes:
The first mainland golf course you will reach while traveling south into the OBX region is the Carolina Club. It is best known for its signature island green par 3 that highlights an outstanding 7,000-yard championship design featuring wetlands, water and bunkers galore.
Next on the approach into OBX is the Kilmarlic Golf Club. Originally destined to be a private operation, this outstanding venue shifted gears over time and has evolved into the ultimate resort destination with a challenging Tom Steele-designed layout, golf cottages, an athletic club with eight tennis courts, an Olympic sized pool, clubhouse dining, a full practice facility and even a Albemarle Sound-side park with a beach.
Rounding out the trio is The Pointe Golf Club, the course located closest to the Wright Memorial Bridge spanning the Currituck Sound as it laps up against the true Outer Banks. If you pass up a chance for breakfast in the grillroom at The Pointe you are missing a true classic. But no matter what time of day you eat or play, the golf at the course features perfect lies on immaculate fairways and greens that are considered among the finest along the East Coast.
Of course with the development of new complex of golf course cottages at Kilmarlic now in full swing, it’s never been easier for groups of golfers to stay and play each of these offerings all the while having miles of surf and sand along with a plethora of dining options just minutes away on the “other side of the bridge” in places with interesting names like Corolla, Duck, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head.
As Bryan Sullivan, the director of golf at Kilmarlic, likes to say, “You can stay at Kilmarlic with golf out your front door yet still have your toes in the ocean in 10 minutes.”
Indeed, you can have it all with a stay on the mainland. With the arrival of this new golf course accommodation component, life will never be the same across the Currituck Outer Banks