North Carolina Golf.
Anthony Webber. Editor-at-Large. iGTN. North Carolina Golf. In the southernmost corner of North Carolina is one of the South’s best-kept secrets, both for award-winning golf and for award-winning beaches. Stretching between the bustling Myrtle Beach, South Carolina border, up nearly to Wilmington, is the serene and scenic North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.
Five barrier islands – Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island and Bald Head Island – provide 135 miles of fairways and 45 miles of wide, un-crowded beaches, free from high-rise development. Picturesque Southern towns like Southport, Calabash, Shallotte, and Leland draw visitors with independently-owned, one-of-a-kind restaurants, galleries, and shops. Adding a temperate climate ideal for year-round boating and fishing, along with fun forts, lighthouses and historic architecture, the stage is set for a perfect North Carolina coastal golf getaway.
“Top 10 Best New Golf Courses” … “Most Fun” …“Golf Course of the Year.” These are just a few of the tributes paid to the links of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, known as North Carolina’s Golf Coast among pros, serious players, and duffers. Great values, fewer crowds and less congestion than its neighboring golf mecca 30 minutes south make North Carolina’s Golf Coast an unbeatable combination with discriminating golfers.
More than 30 championship courses are located in Brunswick County, the Northern end of Grand Strand golf. Four of them have made the list of Golfweek’s Best: State-by-State Courses You Can Play.
Designed by such greats as Arnold Palmer, Rees Jones, Fred Couples, Dan Maples, Willard Byrd, Tim Cate and Hale Irwin, the golf courses of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands offer a wide range of settings, from marsh to maritime forests, to lakes, streams, beaches and the Intracoastal Waterway.
All deftly take advantage of the varied terrain of the North Carolina coast, and each is unique in its design and playability.
Course designer Tim Cate, a resident of the area, says this: “Unlike the South Carolina courses, this is a unique region with a bit of a roll to the land, which provides some wind break off the water and opportunities for interesting layouts. We have beautiful beaches and low-rise development, so the area has been left in a more natural state.”
North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands – One Golf Course for Each Day of The Month
Here are just a few of the fun and challenging courses of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands
Sea Trail Golf Resort and Conference Center
With its three courses, 300 lodging accommodations and 40,000 square foot conference center, Sea Trail came under new ownership and improvements are ongoing. The Rees Jones course bunker renovations, including remounding and contouring, have restored the course to championship conditions. Conference facility upgrades and other improvements are underway. Sea Trail has subsequently won three significant awards: a ConventionSouth Reader’s Choice Award for outstanding group service as well as the Top Golf Retreat in the South for Groups; and, from the readership of the local Brunswick Beacon, the Reader’s Choice award for the Best Golf Facility.
Cape Fear National at Brunswick Forest
Cape Fear National at Brunswick Forest, Leland NC is the newest golf course in the area and features 18 holes of premium public golf in a setting of unmatched beauty. Designed by Tim Cate, it was named among the “Top 18 Course Openings in the World” by LINKS magazine, one of the “Top Best New Courses” by Golfweek magazine and “Best New Golf Courses You Can Play” by Golf magazine.
Sandpiper Bay Golf and Country Club
The Dan Maples-designed Sandpiper Bay Golf and Country Club in Sunset Beach was voted the “Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course of the Year” by the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association out of a competitive field of 100. Golf Digest has rated the course four stars, and it’s one of the best values in the area, favored by beginners and experts alike.
The “Big Cats” Courses at Ocean Ridge Plantation
Ocean Ridge Plantation in Sunset Beach features four courses, all ranking among Golf Digest’s “Sixty Favorite of the Myrtle Beach Area.” Leopard’s Chase and Tiger’s Eye were ranked in the top 10 among GOLF Magazine’s “Top Public Courses, State by State,” in the top 40 of Business NC Magazine’s “Top 100 Golf Courses in the State” and were ranked third and fourth among all Coastal Region Courses. Carved from virgin pine forests, Tiger’s Eye features dramatic elevation changes and breathtaking water features, including an 18th hole waterfall. Leopard’s Chase, also ranked fifth in North Carolina among GolfWeek’s “Best Courses You Can Play,” traverses 220 acres of coastal scenic landscape.
Thistle Golf Club
The venerable Thistle Golf Club is of traditional Scottish design, filled with Old World antiquities and memorabilia from Edinburgh’s revered Links of Leith. In the finest Scottish tradition, architect Tim Cate provided windswept fairways, heather-covered hillsides, and generous rolling Bentgrass greens. Formerly a semi-private club, Thistle is under new ownership and management and is now a public course with plans for improvements
Farmstead Golf Links
The 18th hole at Farmstead Golf Links in Calabash was selected by Golf Digest as part of its fantasy design “Top 18 Most Fun Holes in America.” Designed by Willard Byrd with enhancements by Dave Johnson, this is the area’s only par 6. The mammoth, 767-yard finishing hole tees off in South Carolina with a drive into a wide sweeping fairway and concludes on a large undulating green in North Carolina.
Playing the more than 30 courses of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands should be on every golfer’s bucket list, and where to stay won’t be a problem. Accommodations include more than 30 hotels, inns, B&B’s, and golf resorts, as well as seaside and inland rental homes and condos for every lifestyle and budget. Eleven golf packages can help tailor a trip that golf dreams are made of www.ncbrunswickgolf.com