It has been said that over time natural forces like wind, rain and the power of ocean currents reigned along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Safe habitats, in their more primitive states, were hard to come by. Perhaps that is why, prior to World War II, few people visited the region.
But as with anything rich in wonder eventually comes discovery. And so the bridges and paved roads that were constructed to help protect the area from foreign invasion opened up avenues for visitors to pour in after it. And with population growth and settlement inevitably came the desire for fun and recreation.
Of course plenty of OBX development has naturally taken place over the years since the war, but so have preservation efforts. From Jockey’s Ridge in Nags Head to the land of wild horses along Currituck, open spaces remain. But there may be no better settings to enjoy the fresh air and majestic landscapes along the Outer Banks than across its golf courses – a trio of which is recognized among the best in all of golf-crazed North Carolina again in 2023.
This year, as in several ones past, the Outer Banks has proven itself once again to be a supplier of some of the game’s most highly-coveted courses in the Tar Heel State. According to the esteemed North Carolina Golf Panel – now in its 28 th year – three courses remained among the Top 50 You Can Play in North Carolina: Featured at No. 15 is The Currituck Club, followed closely by Kilmarlic Golf Club at No. 27 and Nags Head Golf Links at No. 34.
Golf around the storied Outer Banks represents an outstanding selection of enjoyable and affordable yet quality golf courses. Lists like the North Carolina Golf Panel’s are intended to tempt you with some sort of understanding of North Carolina’s golfing mentality and thus add to your golfing pleasure. These headliners, along with a handful of others, have helped transform the Outer Banks into an outdoor sportsman’s paradise. Throw in spacious accommodations and a plethora of off-course activities and you have a destination unlike any other.
From true barrier island links courses to modern parkland marvels located inland, the region is chock full of variety. The challenges at The Pointe Golf Club, The Carolina Club, Nags Head, Kilmarlic and Currituck Club are as spectacular as the coastal views they possess. There may be no better location for a true golf vacation than the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Afternoon drives take on a whole new meaning along the coast just minutes north of Rees Jones’s 18-hole gem known as The Currituck Club, now No. 59 in North Carolina’s Top 100 and the No. 6 Coastal Course. The Corolla keeper is the grandest design along the coast “sculpted on the type of land where golf began” among 600 acres of dunes, wetlands, maritime forests, and sound seascapes.
Every time golfers tackle historic Nags Head – touted as North Carolina’s No. 5 Best Short(er) Course a year ago – they find themselves facing a different challenge. Crafted by Bob Moore, Nags Head plays hard along the inner waterway on the southern end of the Outer Banks, where capricious breezes off sound-side waters create a unique golfing experience each and every day. With its coastal winds, rugged shoreline, island holes, seaside vistas, and tees and greens separated by rolling dunes and wild sea grass, Nags Head bears far more than a passing resemblance to the famed Scottish golf links.
Home to various golf cottages located near its entrance, Kilmarlic is a popular Tom Steele design nestled along the marshland of the Albemarle Sound. North Carolina’s No. 88 course in the Top 100 is a wonderful mainland design amidst 605 beautiful acres of maritime forest providing a pure OBX layout with water and wetlands virtually in play at all times.
Located just across the Wright Memorial Bridge, The Pointe is the first in a sequence of championship golf courses — layouts close to the sounds and ocean but more parkland in settings. The course is also said to be the first in the country to have the A-1 bent grass — a dense, disease-resistant strain — installed across its corridors. Meanwhile, The Carolina Club’s positioning as the first design heading into town from the north and last one on the way out makes it the ideal play on either side of your OBX golf getaway.
For the complete list of the Top 100 Courses for 2023, Top 50 Courses You Can Play and other rankings, visit NCGolfPanel.com.