Of all the prime real estate golf courses located on or near the Outer Banks, Kilmarlic offers the most distinct in terms of inland feel. Of course, as they like to say in these parts, you can play a round on this challenging design and have your “toes in the ocean in ten minutes.”
Despite its secluded nature, Kilmarlic actually plays nears the Albemarle Sound which is visible on a number of holes. Primarily tucked away in a maritime forest, the routing puts nearly every shot in peril as a ball struck here travels across sprawling wetlands and ponds. Award-winning course architect Tom Steele’s classic design creates stimulating challenges with an outstanding layout in top-notch condition. Golf your way through canopies of giant oak, pine and dogwood that exemplify the natural beauty of North Carolina’s Outer Banks and you will start to understand Kilmarlic’s unique partnership between the game and nature.
The landing areas at Kilmarlic have always been generous as they lead to gently sloping greens surrounded by contoured approaches and deep greenside bunkers. These days, golfers will discover a little less playing surface but a much more aesthetically pleasing Kilmarlic.
According to Director of Golf Bryan Sullivan, “We’ve been doing a good amount of renovation out on the golf course this year. We have taken out 25 acres of Bermuda grass and turned them into natural areas, mainly around tee boxes and along the back of bunkers. These high grasses give it a really cool contrasting look and it doesn’t affect the playability of the course. In essence, it frames the layout better.”
Having devoted most of its focus on the areas golfers deem most important: tees, fairways, greens, Kilmarlic is now going the extra mile.
“We started looking at areas we felt we could improve upon all the while preserving the layout’s integrity and playability.” Sullivan added. “So we have turned some spots that really aren’t in play into natural grassy areas. Not only are we helping the carbon footprint, but it allows our staff to spend more time concentrating on the areas golfers truly want to see in the best possible condition.”
Other improvements to the design include the subtraction/addition of a few bunkers and the development of a number of new championship tee boxes to extend the layout’s overall length to nearly 6,700 yards.
“We are still working to get the complete look that we want,” Sullivan said. “It is really starting to look good. People like the contrast.”
Course Review by golf writer Bill Kamenjar