OBX’s Dream 18, Holes Nos. 9-12
Kilmarlic Golf Club, Powells Point
Despite it being the newest golf course on the OBX menu having debuted in 2002, Kilmarlic’s management doesn’t rest on its laurels. That makes it a hot bed for really good-looking golf holes. A pure Outer Banks layout with water and wetlands almost constantly in play, Kilmarlic has seen some recent renovation work to the playing grounds as well as expansion of its popular on-site lodging.
“We took out 25 acres of Bermuda grass and turned them into natural areas,” Director of Golf Bryan Sullivan reported. “This gave it a really cool contrasting look and it doesn’t affect the playability of the course. In essence, it frames it better and gives it a better aesthetic look. In the end, it saves on the carbon footprint.”
For years, the folks at Kilmarlic have concentrated on the area’s golfer deem the most important: tees, fairways, greens. But progress never stops at the highly acclaimed design, so other parts of the routing have been addressed.
“It is really looking good,” added Sullivan. “People like the contrast and it’s mostly aesthetic. We took out of few bunkers and added a few new ones and we have tried to stretch the course out a bit (with a few new back tees) for college players. We picked up some yardage with new championship tees, with the layout now playing close to 6,700 yards.”
Of course, for stay and play, there’s no better golf course choice in the region than Kilmarlic located on the Albemarle Sound. A vacation in one of its many golf cottages on property is an exceptional experience.
9. Kilmarlic’s Hole No. 5, 163-yard par 3
In a region known for its par 3s, this one is interesting in that it features a forced carry over a pond and bulkhead with no room short, not even a bunker. The extremely wide (but narrow front to back) green is surrounded, however, both on the right and across the entire back by bunkers. This requires precise distancing and a soft bounce to get your shot to finish close to the hole not to mention stay on the green.
With the day’s pin placed well over on the extreme right, my tee shot cleared the water but due to some natural over-clubbing and some greed to go at the pin, my ball bounced into a bunker to the right. It was no bargain hitting back at the pin from there, as anything long could end up rolling back across the green, trundle across a small spit of grass and over the bulkhead back into the drink on front.
10. Kilmarlic’s Hole No. 12, 495-yard par 5
Framed by fairway bunkers right, left and a long ways right down the middle, this dogleg right requires a tee shot over the tall grasses of an environmental area. If you pull your tee shot left like I did, it turns a shortish par-5 into a long one. Avoiding the bunker on the left, I am left with a long second shot with the fairway wrapping its way around more native vegetation, but providing me with a view towards the green that is worth the price of admission. Somewhere way out in the distance over the marsh is the Albemarle Sound.
On the final approach, I had to avoid three large greenside bunkers on the left, right and behind. You can stay a little left here to be safe or go for it in two if you are a big bomber.
11. Kilmarlic’s Hole No. 15, 420-yard par 4
After playing a local’s favorite risk/reward 308-yard par-4 at No. 14, it’s back to real work on the subsequent two holes. Stepping up to the tee on No. 15, I began to look down the right side out across possibly the longest expanse of marsh-lined golf course property in America. Dubbed the “Monster Mile” of marsh by yours truly after playing down both Nos. 15 and 16 (each flanked by the high stuff), it was a walk through the wilds I will not soon forget.
Back to No. 15, a fairway bunker left makes your drive even tighter and the approach shot gets pinched even more the closer you get to the green. More bunkers intrude on the right nearer the putting surface, so I played it down the left side to be safe.
12. Kilmarlic’s Hole No. 17, 209-yard par 3
Perhaps it being a picturesque hole ideal for marketing across all the OBX, this offering is the one from Kilmarlic that seems to stay with me the most after arriving back home.
With colorful native fall flowering adorning a bulk-headed front tee box and a bulk-head-bordered green beckoning you to hit it or cringe, No. 17 is a wonder. It’s everything you want in a natural-setting par 3. Hit it long, left or short and you are done. The bailout right is where I land. Since short and right is not bad, and up and down from there even better, I get another burst of the OBX experience I have been searching for.
Rest of the Dream 18: