OBX’s Dream 18, Holes Nos. 16-18

The Carolina Club, Grandy

The longest course on the Outer Banks and also the northern most, the Carolina Club is a meticulously manicured, nearly 7,000-yard, par-72 championship golf course that may well be the highlight of your stay (especially if you play it all warmed up and finally in the groove on your way out of OBX as I did). Designed by Russell Breeden in 1998 and tweaked by Bob Moore a few years later, the golf course was built on flat terrain though the fairways do feature some slight mounding and contour. The layout winds through wetlands and wooded areas. It plays tighter than it looks, with strong winds periodically coming into play.

“Although it’s the most inland course, there always seems to be a breeze here,” Director of Golf Doug Kinser said. “It’s so bizarre, because it can even be windier here than at The Pointe [which is right next to the Sound]. I don’t know why.”

Upon development, Breeden was asked to transform a former potato farm into arguably the most popular layout in town. It is often thought of as “a hidden treasure” because of its world-class feel and its location in Currituck County means it is often less crowded than some of the beach golf courses during high tourist season.

16. The Carolina Club’s Hole No. 7, 166-yard par 3

Ah, what is a barrier-island destination without a true island green? Well, I got my wish here. What I hadn’t counted on while stepping up to the tee box on No. 7 were a few words in my head from a player hitting out of a bunker on nearby hole No. 14.

“These are nice bunkers,” he said after a good recovery. “It’s nice to play out of good bunkers.”

Strangely, the words I overheard while staring at the island green had a comforting effect. The image of nice white sand (some 30 bunkers had been recently removed from the golf course while all the remaining ones had been newly replenished) overpowered the thought of the surrounding water danger ahead.

With the true, bulk-headed island green looming in the distance and only one small bunker to be conscious of, I struck a nice shot onto the back of the awaiting carpet to set up a two-putt par. While the green at No. 7 is plentiful, hitting it is obviously at a premium – though there is a little more room to the rear than left, front and short. Taking the extra club here was not a bad decision as it enabled my ball to avoid the watery grave.

17. The Carolina Club’s Hole No. 17, 219-yard par 3

This one-shotter over a pond and a rock embankment requires a precise shot to hit the putting surface. First of all, the green complex is guarded by a pine tree overhanging on the right side. There are also two bunkers to contend with both front left and front right. There’s a lot to think about on this offering, so I choose to ignore the pin and shoot for the middle of the green. Turned out to be a good decision as it propelled me to a par.

The Carolina Club - North Carolina Outer Banks Golf18. The Carolina Club’s Hole No. 9, 504-yard par 5

(Note: Although a bit out of order, I have saved this hole for last on purpose. It truly is one for the memory banks and was actually The Carolina Club’s No. 18 finishing hole in the original Breeden design.)

I was warned by several folks beforehand that No. 9 (during the Moore renovation, the 9th and 18th holes, both par 5s, were reversed to help accommodate eventual development) would be challenging.

“People come off that hole shaking their heads wishing they could do it over,” a Carolina Club starter said.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to because my fear of disaster prevented me from playing it aggressively. After birdieing No. 8 with my longest and best putt of the week, I begin my adventure on No. 9. Raved about by the manager, the starter, the superintendent and the cart boy, I am on my guard with a good round going.

With water front and left off the tee, I play it safe (but too short) down the right side. From there I am faced with one of two options: lay up in front of not one but two ponds or go for a bold shot to a virtual “barrier island” fairway in between. I chose the double layup to the 100-yard marker, leaving me with another shot over water to a tight pin standing just beyond rocks and a wooden bulkhead. Managing that, a two-putt leaves me with a – all in all – satisfying bogey six and a sigh of relief.

In the end, I got to polish off my trip playing The Carolina Club as the first player off, on a non-windy morning, across freshly mown greens featuring subtle breaks at breakneck speeds and around 30 less but freshly replenished bunkers (of course, still managing to find a few). What an experience The OBX Great 18 was.

And so, in the words of Dave Kindred from Around the World in 18 Holes, “How unfair for the trip to be over just when we were loving/hating [the latter only in their case] it the most.”

I hope to do our Outer Banks version again soon.

 

Rest of the Dream 18:

Holes 1-3

Holes 4-7

Hole 8

Holes 9-12

Holes 13-15

Holes 16-18

OBX’s Dream 18, Holes Nos. 13-15

Currituck Club, Corolla

Getting to the Rees Jones designed classic is half the adventure. You have to drive (slowly) up the coast along two-laned Highway 12 through quaint outposts like Southern Shores and Duck, past the expansive Sanderling Resort and through other seaside communities. The scenery is constantly shifting. Occasionally you might feel even more crammed in by walls of thick maritime forest. If you run into the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, you’ve gone too far. Backtracking to the club, you’ll find a clubhouse built high on a hill supporting a golf layout built on land that was historically used as a shooting club. The overall facility over the years, to say the least, has changed the meaning of “chasing birdies” in the region.

Opened in 1996, the Rees Jones-designed layout is nestled quietly between the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Sound. As a big-name designer course with instant star quality, it fits perfectly on the last undeveloped chunk of prime coastal real estate. Jones was captivated by the site, calling it one of the East Coast’s “best pieces of golf course property.” He also fell in love with the setting because of its resemblance to the rugged Scottish links land for which he had become a fan.

Of course, the Currituck Club may be a bit more wooded than traditional Scottish links courses, but a changing breeze is standard fare. So is water, which comes into play on three holes on the front side, especially the Nos. 4 and 5 holes, where hazards lurk in the fairways. If the terrain is fairly calm on the front nine, it cranks up a few decibels on the backside, where rolling fairways can elevate as high as 80 feet above sea level.

The breathtaking layout, in all, stretches across 6,885 yards of remarkably diverse coastal terrain, including sand dunes, wetlands, maritime forests and Sound-side shoreline. With that in mind, my goal was to find a selection of holes that provided a true representation of what Jones was trying to achieve from his first step onto the property to his creation’s opening day.

13. Currituck’s Hole No. 7, 523-yard par 5

Sticking with the theme conjured up back at Nags Head Golf Links, I decided to look for holes with Sound views (all the while listening for ocean sounds) you’ll rarely find anywhere else across the golf universe. While the first six holes provide a wonderful romp at Currituck, it’s the seventh that brings you side-by-side with its full grandeur.

Hard along the high grasses, reeds, natural foliage and Currituck Sound to the left, this “bird paradise” of a hole also features native oak trees lined up on both sides of the fairway. The natural, scenic beauty is shared by its sister challenge one head at No. 8, but this offering tasks you with one additional swipe at least (though No. 8 does feature a forced carry over wetlands off the tee).

After a nice drive, I played my approach safely ahead to a final shot into a green featuring four bunkers, three of which dig in close to the putting surface. The fourth bunker is a large one about 30 feet in front, used more for visual deception than actual hazard. The smallish green is tricky and funnels towards the middle allowing for a wide variety of pin positions. Holes 7-8 at Currituck truly set the table for what is to come ahead.

The Currituck Club - North Carolina Outer Banks Golf14. Currituck’s Hole No. 11, 182-yard par 3

In truth, you start to hear and feel the pounding of the Atlantic Ocean surf on the elevated green at No. 10, a par-4, but it’s the subsequent hole at truly brings the barrier island’s beauty into focus.

This uphill wonder is famed high on a dune by large beach homes, but it’s what is in front that makes it so magical. The green is protected front right and front left by bunkers and a colorful array of wild flowers and tufts of high grass that help accentuate the setting. The wind off the ocean in the distance to the right sends my ball scampering just left of the green, having taken two extra clubs to reach pin high.

As I replace the flag after my bogey, the view back down over the coastal landscape is sure to provide a memory of total recall for a long time to come.

15. Currituck’s Hole No. 15, 175-yard par 3

Returning once more to classic Sound-side views, No. 15 is another Currituck beauty with a view over the adjacent water. The slightly downhill one-shotter over an intruding arm of marsh is particularly memorable later in the day with the sun setting over the Currituck Sound.

Although sailing one into the marsh off to the right or short presents the greatest danger here, there is also a small bunker on the front right of the green to avoid. But with plenty of bail out to the left, anything on that side is safe. A little bit of weariness and going for one more tucked pin had me just off the green just over the marsh but left of the bunker. An up and down later and it was off to a long trio of fine finishing holes that lead back to the clubhouse.

 

Rest of the Dream 18:

Holes 1-3

Holes 4-7

Hole 8

Holes 9-12

Holes 13-15

Holes 16-18

OBX’s Dream 18, Holes Nos. 9-12

Kilmarlic Golf Club, Powells Point

Despite it being the newest golf course on the OBX menu having debuted in 2002, Kilmarlic’s management doesn’t rest on its laurels. That makes it a hot bed for really good-looking golf holes. A pure Outer Banks layout with water and wetlands almost constantly in play, Kilmarlic has seen some recent renovation work to the playing grounds as well as expansion of its popular on-site lodging.

“We took out 25 acres of Bermuda grass and turned them into natural areas,” Director of Golf Bryan Sullivan reported. “This gave it a really cool contrasting look and it doesn’t affect the playability of the course. In essence, it frames it better and gives it a better aesthetic look. In the end, it saves on the carbon footprint.”

For years, the folks at Kilmarlic have concentrated on the area’s golfer deem the most important: tees, fairways, greens. But progress never stops at the highly acclaimed design, so other parts of the routing have been addressed.

“It is really looking good,” added Sullivan. “People like the contrast and it’s mostly aesthetic. We took out of few bunkers and added a few new ones and we have tried to stretch the course out a bit (with a few new back tees) for college players. We picked up some yardage with new championship tees, with the layout now playing close to 6,700 yards.”

Of course, for stay and play, there’s no better golf course choice in the region than Kilmarlic located on the Albemarle Sound. A vacation in one of its many golf cottages on property is an exceptional experience.

9. Kilmarlic’s Hole No. 5, 163-yard par 3

In a region known for its par 3s, this one is interesting in that it features a forced carry over a pond and bulkhead with no room short, not even a bunker. The extremely wide (but narrow front to back) green is surrounded, however, both on the right and across the entire back by bunkers. This requires precise distancing and a soft bounce to get your shot to finish close to the hole not to mention stay on the green.

With the day’s pin placed well over on the extreme right, my tee shot cleared the water but due to some natural over-clubbing and some greed to go at the pin, my ball bounced into a bunker to the right. It was no bargain hitting back at the pin from there, as anything long could end up rolling back across the green, trundle across a small spit of grass and over the bulkhead back into the drink on front.

10. Kilmarlic’s Hole No. 12, 495-yard par 5

Framed by fairway bunkers right, left and a long ways right down the middle, this dogleg right requires a tee shot over the tall grasses of an environmental area. If you pull your tee shot left like I did, it turns a shortish par-5 into a long one. Avoiding the bunker on the left, I am left with a long second shot with the fairway wrapping its way around more native vegetation, but providing me with a view towards the green that is worth the price of admission. Somewhere way out in the distance over the marsh is the Albemarle Sound.

On the final approach, I had to avoid three large greenside bunkers on the left, right and behind. You can stay a little left here to be safe or go for it in two if you are a big bomber.

11. Kilmarlic’s Hole No. 15, 420-yard par 4

After playing a local’s favorite risk/reward 308-yard par-4 at No. 14, it’s back to real work on the subsequent two holes. Stepping up to the tee on No. 15, I began to look down the right side out across possibly the longest expanse of marsh-lined golf course property in America. Dubbed the “Monster Mile” of marsh by yours truly after playing down both Nos. 15 and 16 (each flanked by the high stuff), it was a walk through the wilds I will not soon forget.

Back to No. 15, a fairway bunker left makes your drive even tighter and the approach shot gets pinched even more the closer you get to the green. More bunkers intrude on the right nearer the putting surface, so I played it down the left side to be safe.

Outer Banks Golf Course - Kilmarlic Golf Club12. Kilmarlic’s Hole No. 17, 209-yard par 3

Perhaps it being a picturesque hole ideal for marketing across all the OBX, this offering is the one from Kilmarlic that seems to stay with me the most after arriving back home.

With colorful native fall flowering adorning a bulk-headed front tee box and a bulk-head-bordered green beckoning you to hit it or cringe, No. 17 is a wonder. It’s everything you want in a natural-setting par 3. Hit it long, left or short and you are done. The bailout right is where I land. Since short and right is not bad, and up and down from there even better, I get another burst of the OBX experience I have been searching for.

 

Rest of the Dream 18:

Holes 1-3

Holes 4-7

Hole 8

Holes 9-12

Holes 13-15

Holes 16-18

OBX’s Dream 18, Hole No. 8

Duck Woods Country Club, Southern Shores

Although not on the mainline of public-access golf courses along the OBX, Duck Woods does provide play to guests of members and some limited package play when tee times become available. This makes it worthy of at least one hole in our Dream 18 (although several could qualify).

As the oldest course on the Outer Banks, it was designed in 1969 by famed architect Ellis Maples. The course weaves its way through more than 250 acres of maritime forest and is characterized by country club conditioning with challenging holes routed around an intricate system of lakes, ponds and canals. Fairways can be narrow and water comes into play on no less than 14 holes, making shot placement a big deal especially on windy days.

8. Duck Woods’ Hole No. 18, 516-yard par 5

The real meat of the Duck Woods course are holes Nos. 14-16 (pars of 5-4-4) known locally as the “Duck Trap.” The design’s No. 6 hole, a sweeping dogleg left par 4 requiring a drawing shot between a pair of ominous fairway bunkers, also stands out. However, these are just lead-ups to the layout’s strong closing hole at No. 18.

There are two large fairway bunkers to avoid down the left side on this picturesque challenge though things start to become even more interesting as you get nearer to the green. There’s hidden water to avoid left as a stylish green slopes right to left towards a bulk-headed water feature that wraps around a good portion of the green’s left quadrant and rear. A nice finishing touch is a wooden exit bridge from which you can depart the putting surface as you head back to Duck Woods’ lavish clubhouse amenities.

 

Rest of the Dream 18:

Holes 1-3

Holes 4-7

Hole 8

Holes 9-12

Holes 13-15

Holes 16-18

OBX’s Dream 18: Holes 4-7

Nags Head Golf Links, Nags Head

The land the Bob Moore designed classic now flows across was once nothing more than dunes and ponds owned by a single family. Since its 1980s transformation into a near Scottish links replica, four holes still play hard along the Roanoke Sound – something that would be impossible to replicate these days. Thanks to some thoughtful developer vision, Nags Head Golf Links has continued to evolve into the truly unique display of golf it is today.

“Sure, they could have just put houses here (along the water), but went with the golf course instead,” said Nags Head General Manager Patrick Kelly. “It’s obviously prime real estate.”

Indeed it is. So as a tribute to this honorable effort – and despite a good many other outstanding holes to choose from – the four holes along the water (Roanoke Sound) earn our distinction as members of the OBX’s Dream Team.

Kelly went on to say that the weather (I played it with a tropical depression hanging about off shore) plays a big part in the layout’s demeanor.

“This kind of weather brings out the style of the golf course,” he said.

Water, wetlands and dense undergrowth off the fairways present challenges throughout the golf course. Once out there, the first glimpse of the Roanoke Sound is actually from the tee box on hole No. 4. But it is a hole later where you truly begin to feel its awe-inspiring presence.

4. Nags Head’s Hole No. 5, 513-yard par 5

The tee shot is critical as you have to hit over scrubby grasses in the foreground and either over or left of a cluster of five live oaks (a native tree to the Outer Banks) that guard the right. Although the fairway ahead looks very narrow, it really isn’t, though the next shot gives way to a layup to a spit of land that surely is. More oaks line the entire fairway up the right side.

With the Sound far left and a pond creeping in from the left, my left-center cut drive is followed by layup that just bleeds into the high grass next to the pond. A punch out later, I strike an approach shot to the safe right side of the green, as the right side sports a picturesque bulkhead as it juts out into the Roanoke Sound. A nice chip from the right side can’t quite save my bogey. Double.

5. Nags Head’s Hole No. 9, 359-yard par 4

Considered slightly easier than No. 5 in terms of handicap on the scorecard, this same South-to-North running hole, however, puts even more of a premium on the tee shot (especially into the East wind) as a blind shot over high scrub has to hit the narrowest fairway of all the four Sound-side holes. This landing area is perched between the water and Clubhouse, but once reached, leaves a reasonably short shot over a mound to the green. I always seem to have trouble threading the needle here. Today is no exception.

Nags Head Golf Links - North Carolina Outer Banks Golf6. Nags Head’s Hole No. 15, 221-yard par 3

As you continue along playing the inland holes at Nags Head, it’s hard not to think ahead to what’s ahead in your round. You get a glimpse of it from the green at No. 14, but when you step back to the tips on the next hole, its scary demeanor takes hold. Of course, I don’t actually tee up from there, but even one tee box forward the one-shotter requires a monster smack over a pond on the left and the Sound flowing down the entire right side.

Both this hole and eventually No. 18 now have you playing North to South, so the wind is opposite of whatever you played on the first two Roanoke holes. Fortunately, I catch a break on this day, and though my tee shot falls short of the green, it’s still past the pond and well away from the watery graveyard on the right. A thinned chip shot and a nice two-putt from off the back of the green saves a bogey.

7. Nags Head’s Hole No. 18, 583-yard par 5

Here’s a hole that will stick with you for a long time. Then again, the entire closing stretch of holes 15-18 leaves a lasting impression – possibly my favorite stretch of gaming grounds in all of OBX if not all of North Carolina’s famed links.

For the slicer, the tee shot at 18 can be daunting with the Sound dangerously close on the right. But the fairway spreads out wide to the left, so a play down the center left is ideal. Having done that, the real test begins. From there, the fairway narrows dramatically with scrub grasses to the right leading to a Sound-side beach and more gulps of Roanoke water. An unfortunate bounce right beats me up here, but once past that, the main obstacle to deal with is a deep bunker framed by grassy rough and flanked by two trees on the left front of the green. The bad carom had me hacking a wedge out of the beach grass, but once extracted, I make my way onto the undulating carpet in one over regulation. Looking back, No. 18 is truly a beast of North Carolina’s extreme Northeast.

After your round, take the time to go up into the clubhouse’s crow’s nest. The 360-degrees views of the Links (including all the holes just detailed), the Sound, the Atlantic Ocean and Nags Head proper are nothing short of amazing.

 

Rest of the Dream 18:

Holes 1-3

Holes 4-7

Hole 8

Holes 9-12

Holes 13-15

Holes 16-18

The Great 18 – A full-course menu of OBX’s most daring and delightful golf holes … Bank on It.

By Bill Kamenjar

The adrenaline rush kicked in somewhere along the road between the coin dispenser and Coinjock.

If it wasn’t for the barbeque sandwich, fries, Southern sweet tea and $1.79 oversized sugar cookie consumed at The Border Station straddling the North Carolina/Virginia state line, I would have sworn it was the anticipation of playing 18 of the most memorable golf holes North Carolina’s Outer Banks has to offer. As it was, the drive southbound from Virginia to the coastal resort was remarkably energizing.

The mission … if I chose to accept it? To find, play and experience each of these 18 offerings individually, from tee to shining green. Then string them together providing a few insights.

So, I did.

The inspiration for this particular travelogue was a 1993 novel co-authored by journalists Tom Callahan and Dave Kindred titled Around the World in 18 Holes. After “months of absurdly complex planning,” the twosome spanned the globe playing the game across 18 diabolical golf holes then pieced them together to make a single 18-hole golf course. It was a par 72 at a length of 37,000 miles. The 69-day adventure was no doubt a dream journey for them – but one that will likely remain a literary fantasy for the rest of us.

Still, this doesn’t mean we can’t score a dream 18 of our own using a beloved destination like the Outer Banks of North Carolina. So, with the pair of golfing globe trotters in mind, I came up with a journey anyone with some coastal golf aspirations can enjoy: Around OBX in 18 Holes. The goal here, however, was not to necessarily find the most diabolical holes across the barrier island landscape. More, it was to find the ones that give a flavor of their respective designs; shining the spotlight on those that are indisputably daring, delightful and most of all, hard to forget.

Applying this concept to an excellent array of half a dozen golf courses OBX has to offer – all fairly close together – was easy. With some simple planning that included a few correspondences to PlayOBXGolf.com and insights from several area golf directors/pros, the concept came together.

I spent several days (well, mostly just nights) staying at the Ballesteros golf cottage at Kilmarlic Golf Club and golfing along the northern coast of the Tar Heel State (not to mention refueling at OBX local dining hot spots like Shipwrecks, Henry’s, the Bonzer Shack and of course breakfast at Kilmarlic’s Black Tartan Tap Room). Here is what my local hosts helped me come up with.

Outer Banks GolfOBX’s Dream 18, Holes Nos. 1-3

The Pointe Golf Club in Powells Point

Director of Golf Doug Kinser loves the expression, “The Wright Brothers chose this area for a reason.” And he’s right, the greatest defense The Pointe possesses on any given day is the wind. On a rare calm day, the layout that prides itself on great turf conditions and playability is extremely getable. To illustrate, the club’s head instructor Cory Schneider – within a month of qualification for the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black – actually shot a course record 59 at The Pointe. A few months after that, he lowered it again to 58.

But days like that are rare, especially in breezy OBX. The real story at The Pointe, however, is the aforementioned turf conditions. It’s true, the facility was the first course in the nation (it opened in July 1995) to fully utilize A-1 bentgrass across its fairways, roughs and greens. You can find the same stuff on the greens at Augusta National, home of The Masters. Routed on a former turf farm and designed by “old-school, seat-of-a-tractor” designer Russell Breeden, the layout is plush, built for speed of play, not overly long at 6,226 yards, sports a par of 71 and is a favorite of the locals.

1. The Pointe’s Hole No. 6, 387-yard par 4

You know there’s something special about to pop when the cart path takes you up to the top of a 30-foot incline. From there you get a bird’s-eye view of the Currituck Sound as it drifts down the coast buffered by natural wetlands in the foreground. It is a wonderful view to begin an equally enthralling hole.

The actual championship tee sits between two ponds and some scrubby pines, but on this day I catch a double break as the tips are moved a box ahead and a ferocious Easterly wind is at my back. A slightly pulled drive down the left side flirts with the environmental hazard (and away from a fairway bunker on the right), but provides me with a nice angle into the green with more water trouble on the right.

This hole requires two big hits to reach the putting surface that tilts left to right towards the water. The prudent play here, if you are not going to hit the green in regulation, is down the left side where the only real challenge is hitting off the down or upslope of any one of handful of harmless mounds. Just don’t skull your ball from there as I did, or it will careen off down the slope (the green slopes to the right) into the pond protecting the right side – a result you intended to avoid in the first place.

2. The Pointe’s Hole No. 12, 348-yard par 4

Stepping onto the back tee box, it’s hard not to feel temporarily claustrophobic. That’s because The Pointe, known for its generally fun and forgiving layout (“It’s hard to find a hole that will tighten you up here,” says Kinser), suddenly puts the squeeze into you a bit here. The tee shot at 12 requires a carry through a narrow chute of trees and across a 150-yard-deep environmental hazard.

After a piped drive down slightly right of center, I could take a deep breath before taking off in the golf cart across a wooden cart bridge and back out into the open. From there, I am left with 150-yard approach to a wide green. Along the way, there is a fairway bunker on the right to avoid along with two green-guarding bunkers in the middle and left front. To add to the appeal of the 12th are five bear-claw shaped mounds that line up behind and around to the right of the green.

3. The Pointe’s Hole No. 18, 562-yard par 5

The original back tee box on this hole played well over 600 yards, making it the longest one in OBX. For speed of play, the big-hitter tees are no longer placed there, but I was allowed to try it from the former and monstrous 619-yard distance. After pounding a drive that barely made it past the forward tee box and short of the fairway, I hit three wood then five wood to 40 yards short of the green but in front of one of the two bunkers that protect the left flank.

Along the way, I avoided water down the right side along with fairways bunkers both left and right. My “layup” saw me pitch past the pin to a long, sloping back to front sloping green. Two putts later and I walked away with a satisfying double bogey. If nothing else, the thrilling experience on 18 at The Pointe reminded me why I should be moving up tee boxes … not back. This is especially true when playing it into a dreaded East wind.

 

Rest of the Dream 18:

Holes 1-3

Holes 4-7

Hole 8

Holes 9-12

Holes 13-15

Holes 16-18

They say that summer passes like a morning breeze. But along the North Carolina Coast, that merely means you will soon be …

“Ooh, that was a really big wave, did you see it?” the mom exclaimed to her young son. But with his eyes pointed downwards while digging into the sand in search of a seashell, little Johnny had missed it.

Or had he?

While the sights of an Outer Banks summer – waves cresting, sand dunes rising, the sun setting each evening over the sound – are always memorable, the sounds of an OBX autumn up and down the beach are also wonders to behold. The youngster may have been focused at his feet, but he couldn’t help but hear the crashing breaker as it neared his position along the shoreline.

OBX, with its more natural, less cluttered surroundings, can provide an unmatched environment for listening pleasures as well as visual ones. The “quiet” resort features the surf, of course, but it also woos you with the soothing resonances of seagulls, children playing in the sand, wild horses whinnying and kites zipping through the air, held aloft by cool, autumn breezes.

And then, of course, there’s the golf.

With its naturally peaceful setting, OBX is also the ideal backdrop to generate sounds of the greatest game. The ping from a ball launched off the face of a high-tech driver. The click of another from a well-struck iron. Flag sticks fluttering in the wind.

With six top-shelf golf courses located in and around the region, there’s no better time than fall to catch an invigorating round on one of its layouts and listen to the most distinctive sound of all: that of a long putt dropping into the bottom of one of the many cups dug out of the OBX turf.

With the traffic along U.S. Highway 158 having eased on the western edge of the Currituck Sound, the summer slog has given way to a refreshed focus during the autumn shoulder season. Like most other parts of the North Carolina, the mild year-round climate makes the Outer Banks region ideal for golf – even as the days grow shorter. The wind-swept gems on both sides of the sounds and near the Atlantic Ocean make up one of the Tar Heel State’s great golf destinations.

The Pointe Golf Club - North Carolina Outer Banks Golf

The Pointe Golf Club

To begin with, a round at the Currituck Club on the island’s northern edge provides some of the most memorable glimpses of both bodies of water. Its location in the town of Corolla also offers plenty to do once the final putt has been holed. Easily reachable from this Rees Jones designed gem are great restaurants and boutique shopping – not to mention four-wheeling safaris to see the wild horses that roam Currituck’s northernmost beaches.

Back on the mainland, meanwhile, you have Kilmarlic Golf Club. This marvel plays through a maritime forest and across sprawling wetlands where golf and the environment exist in perfect harmony. Canopies of giant oak, pine and dogwood trees offer a unique setting for the game, with the fall adding an extra element of color.

The Pointe Golf Club and The Carolina Club are solid windswept layouts offering a variety of challenges and outstanding conditioning. The latter even features an island-green par-3 giving true meaning to OBX being known as a watery wonderland.

Fall is also a great time to enjoy the Southern hospitality of OBX’s other coastal gems. With great courses, food and a large menu of off-course activities, a trip to Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk and points south are in order.

While the Currituck Club is considered the region’s most demanding test, on a windy day, nothing compares with Nags Head Golf Links. A few of the more classic holes play right along the Roanoke Sound, which is fine when the air currents are asleep. But wake them up, and you may find yourself on the hardest 6,100-yard course in the state.

All together, these outstanding designs provide a golfing adventure that will keep your putts falling long after summer crowds have departed the Outer Banks – and the sounds of shots are allowed to prevail.

Sticking with Summer

The traditional summer vacation is a time for families to reconnect at a spot other than the backyard patio or neighborhood pool. This year, in particular, the need to get outside and into safe, fresh, open-aired spaces will be paramount. The best foreign, away-from-home environment to do that just may be where seas of blue-ocean waters and green-grassed fairways drift lazily along together. Fortunately, the state of North Carolina boasts the ideal place to combine the two. For those within driving distance of the coast, you’ll find no finer beach and golf combination than the laid-back destination known as the Outer Banks.

Here are five reasons to visit North Carolina’s Outer Banks this summer … with your sticks:

 

Nags Head Golf Links - North Carolina Outer Banks Golf1. Plenty of Holes

The No. 1 reason to bring your clubs on a family summer vacation to OBX is that you can — and should. With at least a half dozen well-maintained golf courses strewn up and down the coast and inland not far across the Wright Memorial Bridge, a nice diversion from the traditional “beachy” activities has to be considered among your Outer Banks things to do near me.

In fact, if you happen to be staying on the mainland in one of the neighborhood golf cottages at Kilmarlic Golf Club, you and your family have no choice but to tee it high and let it fly. With three 18-hole courses — Kilmarlic, The Pointe Golf Club and The Carolina Club — within minutes of each other and a practice putting green directly outside your back door, you may be tempted to make your summer vacation one exclusively dedicated to golf. But don’t. There’s H2OBX Waterpark next door, a recreation facility on property and you are just a hop, skip and a jump … well, a short drive … from having your toes in the Atlantic Ocean, as the Outer Banks is renowned for its hundreds of miles of sand and surf.

2. Daylight Hours

It’s a well-known fallacy that summer vacation is a time to catch up on sleep. In fact, it should probably be called the summer “re-creation” — because you finally get the chance to actually use your batteries … on fun stuff, at least … instead of fooling yourself into thinking you will be recharging them.

With constant Carolina sunlight beaming through the windows of your accommodations from early in the morning until past the usual school-night bedtime, you need a long list of activities to fill up the time. And you can take only so much of the action with sand between your toes.

A family member is up extra early wanting to stroll the beach. Breakfast calls, then the waves start to summon, and so on and so forth. By mid afternoon, you and your family members may need a break from the usual routine looking for things to do near me. That’s the perfect time to sneak away from the waves for a quick nine or 18. For those staying hard along the coast, courses like The Currituck Club in the north and Nags Head Golf Links to the south stand majestically at your beck and call.

3. Space to Stretch Out

With all the umbrellas, beach chairs, coolers and boogie boards now stowed back at the cottage or in your beach house rental, there’s plenty of room remaining in your family vehicle to quickly and easily access the once-buried golf bags and golf shoes that have been itching to get out and play. This enables you to tee it up on the fly.

With the links beckoning you from your colony of beach blankets and your skin — where a golf shirt should be — starting to turn a bit red, survey the family. Now’s the time to see who wants to join you in a round of golf that will bring your senses back to a greener state after they have been subject to a white-sand-and-blue-water hue since daybreak.

4. Gentle breezes

During the dog days of summer, OBX golf courses are generally calmer and cooler adventures, especially early in the morning and later in the day after the peak sun. These conditions are great for scoring, by the way, as benign conditions leave seaside links courses slightly defenseless without whipping coastal winds — usually associated with other three seasons of the year — to create havoc.

5. Storytelling

The summer vacation has a magical way of creating family memories that last a lifetime. Still, when you get back to your regular fall foursome, do you really want to be the player whose only story entails the number the seashells you and your kids collected or how many times you let them win at mini golf?

Of course, a few of those details can be acknowledged. But throw into the mix the two birdies you dropped during a particularly hot stretch — under a setting sun at Nags Head or up the coast at The Currituck Club — and you will surely impress as your foursome plays across some dullish, land-locked course back home.

Interested in a golf trip to the OBX – Click Here for a Quote!

Golf is played with passion in North Carolina. So when the most authoritative statewide source of golf course rankings comes along and selects a trio of yours among its bests, golfers should take note. This year, as in several ones past, the Outer Banks has proven itself once again to be a supplier of some of the game’s most highly coveted courses in the Tar Heel State.

In the Carolinas, you have some of the best choices of fairway wonders in the world. According to the esteemed North Carolina Golf Panel – now in its 26th year – three courses remained among the Top 50 You Can Play in North Carolina: Featured at No. 18 is The Currituck Club, followed closely by Kilmarlic Golf Club at No. 23 and Nags Head Golf Links at No. 33. All three, in addition, rank among the state’s overall Top 100, when taking into consideration both public-access and private venues.

Golf around the storied Outer Banks represents an outstanding selection of enjoyable and affordable yet quality golf courses. Lists like the North Carolina Golf Panel’s are intended to tempt you with some sort of understanding of North Carolina’s golfing mentality and thus add to your golfing pleasure. These headliners, along with a handful of others, have helped transform the Outer Banks into an outdoor sportsman’s paradise. Throw in spacious accommodations and a plethora of off-course activities and you have a destination unlike any other.

From true barrier island links courses to modern parkland marvels located inland, the region is chock full of variety. The challenges at The Pointe Golf Club, The Carolina Club, Nags Head, Kilmarlic and Currituck Club are as spectacular as the coastal views they possess. There may be no better location for a true golf vacation than the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Afternoon drives take on a whole new meaning along the coast just minutes north of Rees Jones’s 18-hole gem known as The Currituck Club, now No. 57 in North Carolina’s Top 100. The Corolla keeper is the grandest design along the coast “sculpted on the type of land where golf began” among 600 acres of dunes, wetlands, maritime forests, and sound seascapes.

Every time golfers tackle historic Nags Head – also included in North Carolina’s Top 100 at (what No. 99?) – they find themselves facing a different challenge. Crafted by Bob Moore, Nags Head plays hard along the inner waterway on the southern end of the Outer Banks, where capricious breezes off sound-side waters create a unique golfing experience each and every day. With its coastal winds, rugged shoreline, island holes, seaside vistas, and tees and greens separated by rolling dunes and wild sea grass, Nags Head bears far more than a passing resemblance to the famed Scottish golf links.

Home to various golf cottages located near its entrance, Kilmarlic is a popular Tom Steele design nestled along the marshland of the Albemarle Sound. North Carolina’s No. 77 course in the Top 100 is a wonderful mainland design amidst 605 beautiful acres of maritime forest providing a pure OBX layout with water and wetlands virtually in play at all times.

Located just across the Wright Memorial Bridge, The Pointe is the first in a sequence of championship golf courses — layouts close to the sounds and ocean but more parkland in settings. The course is also said to be the first in the country to have the A-1 bent grass — a dense, disease-resistant strain — installed across its corridors. Meanwhile, The Carolina Club’s positioning as the first design heading into town from the north and last one on the way out makes it the ideal play on either side of your OBX golf getaway.

Three Days and Two Nights on the Outer Banks

The region known as the Outer Banks is home to the morning drive. You wake up early, eat a hearty meal at one of the multitude of breakfast nooks around town, hop into your car and head to the first tee.

But this is not where the drive ends. In OBX, it’s where the pedal-to-the-metal, grip-it-and-rip-it excitement begins.

Each year this renowned beach resort destination attracts thousands of golfers of all over the country and from all skill levels in search of playing the wind-swept game along the North Carolina coast. With eclectic accommodations to be found up and down the waterfronts and top-of-the-line golf courses scattered among them, the options are limitless.

As golf courses of the Outer Banks become more dominant attractions, there is a need to organize trips built specifically around playing them. To make things a little easier, we have put together a trio of tried-and-true golf itineraries – each one a little bolder than the next.

We’ll start with what we call our “Par Saver” schedule, designed for less serious golfers not wanting to venture too far from home base. From there we advance to the “Birdie Chaser” itinerary, tailored to the needs of the more adventure-seeking players. Finally we have the “Tour of the Shore” lineup, crafted for the really serious players looking to take a really deep dive into the Outer Banks golf experience. Of course these are just a few examples on how to formulate an outstanding buddy golf trip to the region (mixing and matching can be achieved). Any way you shape it, you’ll be on your way to an unforgettable adventure.

Itinerary:  The Par Saver

For those looking to stay close to their accommodations while venturing out to play golf, the Par Saver may be just the ticket. A foursome staying in a fully-equipped Kilmarlic Golf Cottage will have not only have access to three great golf courses without all the traffic of the main drag, but they will have an array of in-between golf activities to partake in as well. Highway 158 through Grandy and Powells Point features a trio of popular, upscale layouts that provide an inland diversion to the truly ocean-side adventure golfers will discover on the next two itineraries. With Kilmarlic, The Pointe and The Carolina Club situated just minutes apart each right off U.S. Highway 158, they provide affordable golf with not a lot of time spent behind the wheel.

Day 1:

Check into your luxurious Kilmarlic cottage early afternoon still with plenty of time to enjoy an evening round at The Pointe. The Pointe – located just a few minutes from the Kilmarlic cottage neighborhood – is the ideal course to begin your trip as it is generally wide open and forgiving with some of the finest turf conditions and one of the largest practice ranges in the region.

Afterwards, a dinner at the one of the nearby barbeque places along Highway 158 (Currituck Barbeque is just up the road) is a treat. Or if it happens to be a Thursday night, Kilmarlic may be hosting a barbeque feast outdoors in the cottage courtyard. There are also many delicious culinary treats about 15 minutes away just across the Wright Brothers Bridge.

As a wind down to the day or to get the juices flowing for day two, golfers can play a few games on Kilmarlic’s par three short course – “The Killie” – and lighted putting green right off their cottage front porch.

Day 2:

You really don’t have to look far for a great breakfast options as all three golf course clubhouses offer great menus. The Pointe is particularly inviting, especially if you want to spend more time afterwards practicing out on the range.

A short drive up the road will have you at the Carolina Club ready to tee off in minutes. Grab some grub at the turn and enjoy your day on this imaginative layout with its inviting island green.

You’ll want to schedule some sort of beachy activity that afternoon or perhaps take in a history tour at the Wright Brothers National Memorial where the brothers first discovered flight in Kitty Hawk.

Dinner afterwards at Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar, Barefoot Bernies, Black Pelican, Ocean Boulevard or The Kill Devil Grill are always a pleasure on your way back to the cottage.

Day 3:

This day should be reserved for the total Kilmarlic experience. The course, designed by award-winning architect Tom Steele, sits surrounded by 605 acres of historic maritime forest and among sprawling wetlands. This “unique partnership between golf and nature” is truly something to be savored and not rushed.

A short walk to breakfast in the clubhouse can be followed by some putting or chipping games on the facility’s fine practice area. Round these out with a pro-style warm-up on the range and then head out for a golfing experience as memorable as any you will find in OBX.