“OB” is never considered a desirable golf destination among golfers. But tag an X on the end of it and out of bounds quickly turns into a more favorable and much more treasured journey’s end.
That’s because “OBX” in the world of golf stands for the Outer Banks of North Carolina – a name that it has been seemingly taken over in recent years, having been borrowed (actually stolen) from the locals’ preferred terminology. OBX has thus become as much an attitude as it is a geographic location.
Prior to the arrival of a half dozen or so quality courses within 40 minutes of the Wright Brothers Memorial, golf on the historical Outer Banks meant adjusting the bunny ears on one’s beach rental’s television set. Watching the PGA Tour on TV was about all you could do. Having since developed modern layouts that have produced its own high-flying reputation as one of North Carolina’s premiere golf destinations, OBX now provides a variety of tastes as delectable as the seafood delicacies you can find along this amazing strip of land sitting between the sound and the sea.
A great place to begin your Outer Banks golf vacation is at The Currituck Club up north in Corolla, a big-league, Rees Jones design that opened in the summer of 1996. While early sportsmen bagged waterfowl at such grand places as the Currituck Shooting Club, today golfing guests shoot for birdies at this outstanding facility along with several others near the pounding surf or just minutes away across the Wright Memorial Bridge on the mainland.
One of the best things Jones did at The Currituck Club was to set it up so that golfers would face a different challenge every day due to the fact that the wind changes daily. Of course, the same might be said for Nags Head Golf Links located on the extreme southern end of the island. As one of the area’s early leaders, opening in 1988, Nags Head was designed by Bob Moore and has since been surrounded by a planned development known as the Village at Nags Head. Much like The Currituck Club, Nags Head features several sensational water view holes as it plays along the Roanoke Sound.
Although short by modern standards, this southern delight can play as nasty as any in the state when the winds are whipping and the white caps start forming along the adjacent sounds. In addition, deep rough and tight fairways consistently put a premium on accuracy even on days when the winds are more forgiving.
Described as a “shot-maker’s course with a Scottish flavor,” Nags Head’s beauty is nearly rivaled by no less than three other golf courses located on the Currituck Outer Banks mainland on the west side of the bridge.
The Carolina Club, located in Grandy, opened in 1998 and immediately spreads its wings across the countryside. A fairly open course designed by esteemed architect Russell Breeden, the 7,000-plus-yard layout, no surprisingly, relies on coastal winds to help create constantly new challenges. Similarly, The Pointe Golf Club, also a Breeden design, is a fairly open design featuring some of the best putting greens in the area. Nestled along the Currituck Sound, The Pointe is a unique blend of traditional and links style design. With the wind once again being the great equalizer, The Pointe provides a never-ending challenge that is located closest to the beach just north of the bridge.
Rounding out this memorable inland trio is the Kilmarlic Golf Club, which opened in 2002. Consistently rated one of the top courses in the state, Kilmarlic sits among 605 acres of maritime forest and sprawling wetlands. Architect Tom Steele’s classic design creates stimulating challenges with its outstanding layout and conditioning. Play 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 golf and nature.
There is a reason why the Wright brothers came to the Outer Banks to test their flying machine: the winds. And for that reason – in combination with some amazing layouts – successful golf along OBX can produce as lofty a sensation as there is to be found anywhere along the Eastern seaboard.