The Tar-Heel state, North Carolina, has been named 2018’s Golf Destination of the Year for North America by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators(IAGTO).
With stunning landscapes cradling courses from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Atlantic coastline, North Carolina ranks as a premier place for championship rounds and leisurely play. The Home of American Golf, the Pinehurst Resort with its 9 distinctive courses, which includes the famed Donald Ross masterpeice #2, that made history by hosting both the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open in 2014; Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, where the 2017 PGA Championship was played; Another Donald Ross design, Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, home of the Wyndham Championship; and the Tom Fazio designed Eagle Point Course in Wilmington, site of the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship.
“Between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Outer Banks, North Carolina has more than 400 resort and public golf courses with all kinds of bragging rights,” said Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit North Carolina. Pinehurst has been called the ‘golfiest resort in America’ with nine 18 hole courses. Farmstead Golf Links in Calabash takes you across state lines on its last hole which measures 767 yards. At the George Cobb designed Cleghorn Plantation, in the mountains, you’ll see an old grist mill and a slave cemetery.”
IAGTO is the global trade association of the golf tourism industry, comprising 600 golf tour operators from over 60 countries who cast their vote for this award. Each operator is asked to nominate the best performing golf destinations enjoyed by their clients, resulting in five Golf Destination of the Year winners from worldwide regions-North America, Latin America & Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Gulf States & Indian Ocean, Asia and Australia. Criteria includes customer satisfaction, quality of courses and accommodations, value, professionalism, support from local tourism industry and accessibility.
Winners were announced during the 20th International Golf Travel Market(IGTM), which took place in December, 2017 in the Palais des Festivals et des Congres in Cannes, France, in front of an audience of 1,300 worldwide golf tourism delegates.
North Carolina’s selection speaks to the quality of the travel experience as well as the excellence of its resorts and courses. In addition to Pinehurst and its many designs by Ross, Rees Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Ellis & Dan Maples and others, well rounded stays are experienced at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Ashville, Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, The Ballantyne in Charlotte and Bald Head Island at the state’s southernmost tip. Vacation rentals and course-side condos offer roomy comfort as well as convenience. Beyond exceptional clubhouse dining, golfers can sample everything from North Carolina’s world-famous barbecue to Southern cuisine. The best 19th holes add unique flavor from some of the state’s 225 craft breweries, 400 vineyards and 150 wineries.
Each of the state’s three major regions-mountains, Piedmont and coast- is home to major attractions that help make North Carolina the sixth most-visited state for overnight travel. The Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the 8,000 acre Biltmore Estate draw large numbers of visitors to the colorful mountains. In the Piedmont, the Motor Speedway and the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, the Old Salem Moravian Museums & Gardens living history complex and the Guinness World Record-holding Raleigh Beer Garden are top attractions. For the coast, the 200 miles of dune lined shores dotted with historic light houses, wild horses, and the Wright Brothers National Memorial offer unforgettable experiences.
Air travel makes North Carolina’s fabulous golf courses readily accessible. In the center of the state, Charlotte/Douglas International Airport offers daily non-stop flights from more than 160 cities; Raleigh-Durham International Airport has nonstop flights to 50 destinations; Airports in Ashville, Wilmington and Norfolk, Va. allow easy access to the mountains and Outer Banks.
Find more information about North Carolina golf and leisure at VisitNC.com