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.
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.