North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, located along its’ southernmost shores, has earned the reputation as the state’s “Golf Coast” because of the more than 30 daily fee courses designed by the game’s most recognizable architects. With so many places to choose, here are some highlights to help you plan your next golf trip.
In the Brunswick Isles, the town of Calabash bills itself as “The Seafood Capital of the World.” And who’s to argue? With close to two dozen seafood restaurants to serve a year round population of 800, its available popcorn shrimp is unmatched. The town’s Farmstead Golf Links, a Willard Byrd original, confounds players with one of the world’s longest golf holes. The mammoth 18th plays to 767 yards and is one of the few par-6 holes in existence. The tee box is actually in South Carolina, but somewhere along the fairway, golfers cross back to the green located in North Carolina. Check it out at www.FarmsteadGolfLinks.com.
Destinations such as Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Oak Island, Holden Beach and Bald Head are truly beloved coastal locations ideally situated on 45 miles of coastline between Wilmington to the north and South Carolina to the south. Visitors to the Grand Strand would be remiss if they didn’t explore the great golf offerings across the Carolinas state line. So, where to begin?
Ocean Ridge Plantation in Sunset Beach tempts players with four (soon to be 5) courses named for jungle cats, including Leopard’s Chase, which was selected among ” The Top 10 Courses You Can Play in America” by Golf Digest. The other ‘big cats’ at Ocean Ridge are Tiger’s Eye, Lion’s Paw, and Jaguar’s Lair. for more go to www.BIGCATSGOLF.com.
Also in Sunset is the beautiful Sea Trail Golf Resort featuring three 18-hole designs by Rees Jones, William Byrd and Dan Maples where you can stay and play three distinctive layouts. Check it out at www.SEATRAIL.com.
Tim Cate, a nationally recognized golf course architect has been responsible for many of the award winning courses in the Brunswick Islands, including the impressive 27 holes at Thistle Golf Club, rated 4.5 stars by Golf Digest, modeled after its forebear in Leith, Scotland. This links-style layout has 3 different 9 hole courses featuring an abundance of heather and wildflowers surrounding the replica 19th century stone clubhouse. Don’t miss this one; wwwThistleGolf.com.
Another Cate design that’s a must play is Cape Fear National, one of the area’s newest layouts that is gaining a reputation for playability and a gorgeous natural setting. CFN was named one of the “Top10 Best Courses You Can Play” by Golfweek in 2011. www.CapeFearNational.com.
Laid out along the Lockwood Folly River near Bolivia, NC is the Fred Couples signature designed 27 hole Carolina National, an Audubon Certified Sanctuary and recognized by Golf Digest as one of the finest on the eastern seaboard. www.CarolinaNationalGolf.com.
A can’t miss golf experience can be had by taking the 20 minute ferry ride from Southport to Bald Head Island Club, a layout that winds through a maritime forest and alongside freshwater lagoons, salt marches and dunes. Originally designed by George Cobb, it was recently recreated by Cate and draws rave reviews. take the ride at www.BHIClub.net.
Arnold Palmer’s River Edge Golf Club is another gem that needs to be on your itinerary. Six of the holes sit high upon bluffs along the marshlands of the Shallotte River and the greens feature paspalum grass. Voted Best 100 Public Courses in America; www.River18.com.
Both locals and past visitors will sing the praises of top-notch courses strung along the Islands, such as Pearl Golf Links, Lockwood Folly C.C., Crow Creek, Oyster Bay, Brunswick Plantation and other favorites. Golfers interested in quality golf situated in a tranquil coastal setting should give the Brunswick Islands a try. Packages combining multiple courses are readily available in the area. www.ncBRUNSWICKGolf.com.