Golf Is a Family Affair on North Carolina’s Golf Coast

Ocean Ridge PlantationGolf Is a Family Affair on North Carolina’s Golf Coast

4th hole at Leopard’s Chase Golf Links in Sunset Beach

There’s plenty written about golf trips for buddies, both male and female versions, with details on places to play and recommendations for off-course recreation. But what’s too often overlooked is the desire for family golf opportunities, whether it’s an afternoon stroll on the links for dad during annual vacation or a hard-fought parents versus kids competition for bragging rights at the dinner table.

One place that happily caters to families, with plenty of golf available, is North Carolina’s popular Brunswick Islands, also known as the state’s “Golf Coast.” This southernmost stretch of quiet beach communities and barrier islands is the ideal setting for a family outing with a golf theme. More than 30 respected and highly rated courses dot the area, bearing the design artistry of such notables as Arnold Palmer, Rees Jones, Willard Byrd, Tim Cate, Fred Couples and Dan Maples. In fact, Golf Digest has recognized Tiger’s Eye and Rivers Edge as two of the country’s top 100 public courses, and Leopard’s Chase ranked among the top 10 best new public courses in America. Want to give the kids a fun memory? Take them to Farmstead Golf Links to challenge the world’s fourth longest hole – a par 6, 767-yard monster.

But perhaps most important is this is a destination light-years removed from the crowds and congestion found just a few miles farther south. If it’s just dad or maybe a golfing couple looking for an afternoon break from the beach, the courses in the Brunswick Islands are always friendly and accommodating. Younger players are welcomed on even the area’s finest links, often with special rates that are kind to the family budget. A number of courses even offer free play for juniors with an accompanying adult. Plus, junior outings, lessons and camps can be enjoyed here, which can offer parents some extended free time while the younger set sharpens up their skills.

Of course, off the links there are the beautiful beaches, mild year-round temperatures, fresh seafood, and an abundance of attractions and activities that will keep everyone energized and entertained. Pair up a round of golf with some fishing and boating. Spend an afternoon exploring the natural beauty of a coastal preserve, maybe in a kayak, or take the well-loved walk to explore uninhabited Bird Island near Sunset Beach. There are even opportunities to see and learn more about the sea turtles that return to the beaches here to lay their eggs. Step back in time at a historic site and then sample local cuisine, generally fresh from the ocean. Or like many visitors who just want to escape the rat race for awhile, take a rejuvenating stroll on the white sands of an uncrowded beach or kick back and soak up some rays. And then gather up the family and head out for another quick 18.

Gary Carter

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