I hit the Outer Banks of NC, a region of the state I had not visited in the past. The Outer Banks is a strip of barrier islands along the coast. It is really beach country. Endless beaches and cottages, summer homes and very much a tourist community.
Just a side note, it is also where Kitty Hawk is located. That is where the Wright brothers had the first powered flight in 1903. There is a large museum that chronicles their pioneering efforts.
There is not a huge number of golf courses in this region but certainly enough, about a half dozen or so, that make it worth the trip to play and stay.
The four courses I played were Kilmarlic, Currituck Golf Club, The Pointe and Nags Head.
Tom Steele, who had worked with Tom Fazio, designed Kilmarlic (www.kilmarlicgolfclub.com)and even though it was only his second golf course, he did a great job.
It is very playable, very fair and very scenic along the banks of Albemarle Sound.
Bryan Sullivan, a former mini-tour player including the Canadian Tour at one time, owns Kilmarlic. During a lunch conversation he explained that the name Kilmarlic came from a book.
As the legend goes, a ship loaded with whisky from Kilmarlic, Scotland wrecked off the coast of North Carolina in an area nicknamed The Graveyard of the Atlantic. The barrels of whisky washed ashore in Currituck County and the liquid bounty, as they say, was enjoyed by all.
Kilmarlic is a course that demands positional play and doesn’t kill the average golfer with too much length. This course is a perfect example of a place that has enjoyable and challenging golf without stretching the tips to over 7,000 yards.
In fact, Kilmarlic, which has hosted the 2004 and 2009 North Carolina Open, only plays 6,560 yards from the back tees. It falls under the philosophy of some great professionals, including Jack Nicklaus, who say golf courses don’t have to be long to be good.
The course has a very ‘Old South’ feeling with tall stately pines and other tree varieties that have more of an Alabama or Georgia feel. It is only 10 years old yet has a much more mature presence.
With an abundance of wetlands in the region, it’s only natural for water to be part of the design. Water comes into play on nine holes. A great test and a lot of fun.
The Currituck Club, a Rees Jones design, opened in 1996 and borders Currituck Sound which runs along five of the course’s holes. It’s a very fair design, at 6,885 yards, that incorporates sand dunes, wetlands and maritime forests. (www.clubcorp.com/Clubs/The-Currituck-Club).
The bank nine has a links flavour with lots of sand dunes and the bordering sound.
Jones added a lot of fairway mounding which, at times, kicks the ball back into the fairway.
Nags Head, (www.clubcorp.com/Clubs/Nags-Head-Golf-Links, designed by American Bob Moore of the JMP Golf Design Group, also has a Scottish links flavour. I say “flavour” because it is not a true links in every sense of the definition. It has the ocean influence with several holes along the Roanoke Sound and there are sand dunes separating tees and greens. The course is only 6,126 yards from the back tees but can play much longer with the wind off the ocean and sound. It has been said by other scribes that when the wind is blowing it is the longest 6,126 yards you’ll ever play. In general, it’s a fun course and accentuates the maritime atmosphere of the region.
The Pointe Golf Club at Powells Pointe, is the work of longtime American architect Russell Breeden. The course is a good walking course. It’s flat and everything is in front of you. There are no blind shots. Breeden created several dogleg holes around this 6,343 yard layout. There is some water and sand to negotiate which keep it all very interesting.
There are other courses in the area which I didn’t get a chance to play but from what I hear, are worth checking into. For more information on stay and play packages go to: … http://www.playobxgolf.com/ and http://www.playobxgolf.com/packages.cfm
And if you go, don’t forget to indulge in North Carolina’s famous BBQ and seafood. –end-