Brunswick Islands Golf
Discover NC's Golf Coast
The Brunswick County town of Calabash bills itself as "The Seafood Capital of the World." And who is to argue? With close to two dozen seafood restaurants to serve a year-round population of 800, its available popcorn shrimp per capita is unmatched. Diners can stand on the docks and watch their dinner transfer almost directly from the boats to their plates. Along with the delectable and renowned ocean fare, Calabash and surrounding Brunswick County, and Brunswick Islands, are home to several of North Carolina's (and America's) best daily fee golf courses.
The Web site worldgolf.com refers to Brunswick County as North Carolina's "Golf Coast" because of its more than 25 daily fee courses designed by the game's most recognizable architects.
Brunswick County includes coastal destinations such as Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Oak Island, Holden Beach and Bald Head Island. It is ideally situated with 45 miles of coastline between Wilmington to the north and South Carolina's Myrtle Beach to the south. The latter markets itself as "The Golf Capital of the World" with its slew of 100-plus courses, but serious golfers are remiss if they don't book tee times across state lines on Brunswick County's highly regarded championship offerings.
Leopard's Chase, the most recent of four (soon to be five) cat-theme named courses within Ocean Ridge Plantation in Sunset Beach, was recently selected among "The Top 10 Courses You Can Play in America" by nationally published Golf Digest magazine. Tiger's Eye, Panther's Run and Lion's Paw are the other Ocean Ridge Plantation offerings.
A can't-miss golf experience is taking the 20-minute ferry ride from Southport to The Bald Head Island Golf Club. The layout designed by George Cobb winds through a maritime forest and alongside freshwater lagoons, salt marshes and sand dunes. Bald Head Island is annually listed among the state's best courses by the North Carolina Golf Panel, the de facto rating organization for the state's more than 550 golf courses.
Arnold Palmer's Rivers Edge Golf Club is another gem that needs to be on the Brunswick area golfing itinerary. Six of the holes at Rivers Edge sit high upon bluffs along the marshlands of the Shallotte River. Golf Digest voted it among the "Best 100 Public Courses in America."
Sea Trail Golf Resort in Sunset Beach is a commendable choice. It features three 18-hole championship courses designed by Rees Jones, Willard Byrd and Dan Maples. Each course has its own distinct look, feel and playability.
Farmstead Golf Links in Calabash features one of the world's longest golf holes. No. 18 plays to 767 yards and is one of the few par-6 holes in existence. The tee box for the finishing hole is actually located in South Carolina. Somewhere down the fairway, golfers traverse back across state lines to the green located in North Carolina.
Locally based golf course architect Tim Cate has left his impression all across Brunswick County. Along with his designs at Ocean Ridge Plantation, Cate was responsible for the 27 holes at Thistle Golf Club in Sunset Beach. A Scottish influence emanates from the property at The Thistle, from its replica 19th century clubhouse to the links-style feel of the course that features an abundance of heather and wild flowers. The Thistle has earned 4 1/2 Stars in Golf Digest's "Best Places to Play in America" for its design, condition and service.
The list of premier courses in Brunswick County includes numerous others such as Lockwood Folly Country Club, Carolina National Golf Course – a 27-hole layout by Fred Couples – and The Pearl Golf Links.
Golfers interested in top-notch golf opportunities situated in a tranquil coastal setting should give strong consideration to North Carolina's Brunswick Islands. And the local seafood, as the folks in Calabash will tell you, is also tough to beat.
By Patrick Jones
By Patrick Jones
added: December 22, 2010
updated: January 3, 2011