So you are playing (in your head) the state’s “Dream 18” as decreed by North Carolina Tourism a few years ago. You have already teed off in the Sandhills on the treacherous fifth hole at famed Pinehurst No. 2, dragged your clubs through the shadows of majestic mountains to the eighth green at High Hampton Inn & Country Club in the west and struck memorable approach shots from Tanglewood Park near Winston-Salem in the north all the way to the southern coast at The Reserve Club at St. James Plantation in Southport.
Your brain whirls as it conjures up images of timeless moments where the state’s natural canvass and the brilliance of some of the world’s finest golf course designers collide in cosmic wonder. That’s when you (finally) step up to the 15th tee box at Nags Head Golf Links. You’ve arrived, perhaps, at the hole you have anticipated most. The sound-side par three is a true marvel and it welcomes you to of one of the finest stretches of seaside golf to be found on the planet.
Described as “the cruelest” of Nags Head’s five par 3s, No. 15 is a 200-plus-yard brute and played into a gust of wind can find your ball either on the green or into a pond on the left or possibly the Roanoke Sound on the right. From there, a par-4, par-3, par-5 finish next to waters that constantly slap onto the land will have you convinced you are playing links golf in the British Isles.
“Playing Nags Head Golf Links is a different challenge everyday based on the direction and intensity of wind,” says General Manager Patrick Kelly. “This is especially true on the closing holes on both the front and back nines. Golf Digest once called the holes along the sound, ‘among the most beautiful in the United States.’ The 15th hole is truly something special as well. The length alone would make it a tough hole on any course but put a pond in front and a large body of water to the right and a wind that changes all the time and you have the makings of a classic golf hole – one you will never forget.”
In all, wind, water and wetlands come into play on the majority of holes at Nags Head. The course also has a magical way of changing almost by the minute. If your golf travel plans take you anywhere near North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a round at Nags Head and a shot at one of the state’s premiere holes as it begins its classic finishing stretch is a must.
Course review by golf writer Bill Kamenjar