Golf in North Carolina
North Carolina stretches more than 500 miles from east to west over a kaleidoscope of landscapes – barrier islands, sandy beaches, windswept dunes, sandhills, vibrant cities, rolling hills and dramatic mountains. That vast palette of geography makes for an unrivaled golf experience.
Golf balls fly forever through North Carolina's crisp mountain air; fairways ebb through apple orchards and flow alongside trout-filled streams. On the coast, courses lie against a backdrop of ancient lighthouses and traverse picture-perfect inlets. And in between sits the Piedmont, including the venerable Pinehurst area, where you can play the very holes once tread by Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Payne Stewart.
"If you eat steak every night for dinner, eventually you'll get bored," says Pinehurst architect Dan Maples, whose grandfather, Frank, was one of North Carolina's first golf-course superintendents. "We've got so much variety that you never get tired of one kind of terrain or one kind of weather."
Rees Jones is another architect who's been busy in North Carolina over the years.
"North Carolina has a variety of landscape unlike any other state," says Jones, whose courses include Pinehurst No. 7 in the Sandhills, the Jones Course at Sea Trail Golf Resort along the coast and the Bryan Park Championship Course in the urban setting of Greensboro. "You have the dramatic typography of the mountains. You have the beauty of the coast. Inland you have so many wonderful lakes. And then there's Pinehurst. The soil in Pinehurst allows you to do things you can't do anywhere else – you don't have to worry about drainage as much. You can emulate the design styles from coastal England and Scotland."
Millions enjoy North Carolina golf each year, and there are as many reasons to come as there are courses. More than 400 daily-fee and public-access courses stretch across the three distinct regions – the mountains, the Piedmont and the coast. Come experience them yourself. Millions enjoy North Carolina golf each year, and there are as many reasons to come as there are courses. More than 400 daily-fee and public-access courses stretch across the three distinct regions – the mountains, the Piedmont and the coast. Come experience them yourself.
- Come for the accessibility. North Carolina is within a day's drive of New York, Florida, Chicago and everywhere in between. Three international airports and a handful of smaller ones around the state provide easy access.
- Come for the climate. Golf is played in almost every corner of North Carolina year-around. Come north to escape the heat in summer or south to escape the cold in winter. Kick off the golf season in March and April, when daffodils and dogwoods are blooming and many northern climes are still burdened by snow and slush.
- Come for the history. North Carolina hosts the longest-running amateur championship in the nation (the North and South in Pinehurst has been conducted annually since 1901), but that's not all. The state boasts the site of Ben Hogan's first professional win, and has had golf legends like Arnold Palmer, Raymond Floyd, Billy Joe Patton and Peggy Kirk Bell within its borders for much of their lives. Golfers can test their mettle on two courses that have hosted a collected five U.S. Opens in the past 12 years – including Pinehurst No. 2, which will be the venue for the U.S. Amateur this year and gets a return engagement with the Open in 2014.
- Come for the architecture. Golf in North Carolina includes a cornucopia of both traditional and modern designs, of understated and heroic features. Donald Ross moved from Scotland to America in 1899 and a year later settled in Pinehurst, honing his craft as a golf-course designer and creating some 40 masterpieces across the state. Jones, Palmer, Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Davis Love III, Tim Cate, Mike Strantz and the Maples family (dad Ellis and son Dan) have golf courses tucked in every nook and cranny here, too. And Tiger Woods has selected North Carolina for his first domestic golf course design project.
- Come for so much more. Golfers and their companions come to North Carolina from around the globe for a dizzying array of off-course activities, too – from hang-gliding and crabbing on the coast to whitewater rafting and canoeing in the mountains. Pampering spas and retail shopping hubs are sprinkled throughout North Carolina, and the state also serves up a bountiful table of dining options – from casual Carolina barbecue to freshly harvested seafood to intimate candlelight settings.
And you can cap off this array of largesse with North Carolina's distinct brand of Southern hospitality. The words "sir" and "ma'am" flow freely here, the smiles are warm, and good manners and cheer abound.
Here at your fingertips are a variety of tools to help you plan your next North Carolina golf vacation. Explore our themed journeys, special offers and golf packages, and statewide course finder, and you'll be ready to tee it up in no time.
added: December 21, 2010
updated: January 3, 2011