By Bill Kamenjar
With habitats ranging from sandy beaches to towering dunes, maritime forests to brackish marshes and inland hardwoods to open farmlands, North Carolina’s Outer Banks provides a natural haven for golf. Perhaps the only constants across the region are shifting winds, seagulls screeching out “huoh-huoh-huohs” through the salty air and the eternal roar of the Atlantic Ocean surf pounding against the barrier island’s resilient shoreline.
Swipe your golf ball off the turf of a sound-side hole at Nags Head Golf Links located furthest south along the strip and it will soar over scenery much different than one struck toward the celebrated island green No. 7 at The Carolina Club on the mainland to the north. The same goes for a shot fired adjacent the wetlands at the sound-side Currituck Club as compared to one feathered at Kilmarlic Golf Club, an inland design offering several more subtle glimpses of the intruding coastal waterways.
Of course, other distinct area layouts provide a variety of golf thrills as well across OBX. They include The Pointe Golf Club and Duck Woods Country Club, located just minutes from the Atlantic Ocean, and The Pines at Elizabeth City and Scotch Hall Preserve in Merry Hill – these latter two serving more as options on the way into or out from the Outer Banks.
No matter what setting you choose to tee your ball up during a visit to this seaside paradise, one thing is for certain: golf is grand along the Outer Banks, and grandeur is as pure as a well struck one iron.
More from the Shore
The Powells Point community stands as golf’s northern gateway to the Outer Banks. Rising a mere 10 feet above sea level, it stands much taller than that as the home to two big-league golf layouts – The Pointe and Kilmarlic Golf Club.
The good citizens of Powells Point, over time, have created a style all their own. Where else would you find a Hibbidy Dibbidy Lane – a quiet neighborhood road that thoughtfully dead ends before trespassing across the plush fairway grass of the 619-yard, par-5 No. 18 hole of The Pointe Golf Club.
The Pointe, with its wide-open routing across a former turf farm, has always stood for good, traditional-style golf punctuated by great conditions. As a favorite of locals in the region, the course is affordable and a must play for anyone visiting the destination.
In terms of imagination, however, it may run even wilder just west across U.S. Highway 158 at the naturally wooded golfing grounds of Kilmarlic. Though the name itself evokes an old-world theme, it goes beyond that. Kilmarlic operators have been busy the past few years clearing multiple sound views and opening up numerous corridors to provide an even more memorable playing experience than ever before.
“We have cleared a lot [of trees and underbrush] especially on the back nine,” says Bryan Sullivan, Kilmarlic’s Director of Golf. “We also changed the fourth hole to a par 4 and the sixth to a par 5 [a move designed to further enhance the efficiency of the routing].”
Beginning on the par-5 No. 12, the vistas really begin to widen out. Return players there will notice an artfully thinned-out view behind the green on the 495-yard dogleg right that is more than well protected by a patch of hidden marsh off the tee and some ominous bunkers down the entire right side as you approach the green.
After No. 12, the drama ratchets up even more with stunning new views across to the Albemarle Sound from behind the tee box on the par-3 No. 13, then most of all down the right sides of both the par-4 No. 15 and the par-5 No. 16. The separation between No. 16 and No. 17 has also been enhanced.
Designed by Tom Steele, Kilmarlic has always been known as first-class facility. Now it’s been made even better.
“It’s really a wonderful layout,” Kilmarlic’s Jeff Lewis adds. “There’s plenty of room off the tee, but where you can really lose strokes is around the greens. Though there are plenty of strong longer holes, the collection of par 3s is particularly impressive.”
Forward thinking has always been a part of the management plan at Kilmarlic. The development of a four-bedroom golf cottage situated next to the clubhouse has made it an ideal stay-and-play golf option for serious players over the years. Accommodations there enable groups of players to roll off their front porch and onto the first tee in no time flat. And the best news of all? Similar smaller cottages near the entrance to Kilmarlic could soon be in the development.
So stay tuned.
Learn more about these courses and OBX golf packages at www.PlayOBXGolf.com or 800-916-6244.