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.
14. 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: