Anchored by the Village of Pinehurst, the Sandhills region of North Carolina is made up of a collection of small towns and blessed with a sampling of public-access golf courses that many golf aficionados consider to be among the best in the world. The "Village" is home to the venerable Pinehurst Resort and Donald Ross' vaunted No. 2 course. The entire area oozes with layouts from Ross, Dan and Ellis Maples, Rees Jones, and Robert Trent Jones.
This is a well-conceived, challenging, yet playable course, with a good reputation among local golfers. Water comes into play on quite a few holes. The fairways are relatively wide, but it will help to play your shot carefully.
Dan Maples, architect of the nationally acclaimed Pit Golf Links, has created another masterpiece only minutes from the Village of Pinehurst. Longleaf Golf & Family Club was formerly the site of Starland Farms, for years the training ground of some of the country's top thoroughbreds.
Little River Golf Club is a Dan Maples "original" in his home town area near the village of Pinehurst. The rolling hills and flowing waters on this beautiful property make it a challenging venue for golfers of all skill levels.
The Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area -- also known as the "Triangle" -- bleeds college hoops. Duke University, the University of North Carolina, and North Carolina State are all within a half hour's drive of each other, and have cultivated some of the most intense rivalries in all of sports over the past 40 years.
Located near the banks of Swift Creek, Lochmere Golf Club has plenty of water incorporated into the layout, coming into play on nearly every hole. The golf course stretches across a lush, gently rolling landscape sprinkled with mature trees and ponds. The terrain showcases the best in Triangle golf.
The 18-hole Lakeshore Golf Course in Durham, North Carolina is a public golf course that opened in 1962. Designed by J. M. Utley, Sr. , Lakeshore Golf Course measures 5839 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 117 and a 67.
UNC Finley Golf Club is one of the top 20 collegiate courses in the country. The club offers a well conditioned comprehensive facility with a driving range, putting green, and chipping. Tom Fazio designed this challenging layout that is diverse enough to appeal to players of all skill levels. He included his trademark false fronts and greenside bunkers.
Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville sits at the meeting point of the Swannanoa and French Broad Rivers. Donald Ross chose the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina as the setting for many of the golf courses in his prolific career.
The Great Smoky Mountains surround the Waynesville Inn Golf Resort & Spa, providing a stunning setting that is perfect for a round of golf. The club has three nines -- Dogwood, Carolina, and Blue Ridge -- that are played in different 18-hole combinations. The Blue Ridge/Carolina Course begins with the newest and longest of the nines.
Nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Sequoyah National Golf Club is surrounded by mature oak and fir trees. Owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee, the course is routed through flowered valleys that provide a colorful complement to the surrounding mountain views. It feels peacefully secluded but it is conveniently located less than an hour from Asheville.
Nestled within the Blue Ridge Mountains, Cummings Cove Golf & Country Club is peacefully tucked away with the Great Smokies sheltering it to the west. It offers some of the most stunning views of any golf course in western North Carolina. Although it feels remote, Asheville is less than half an hour away.
With destinations like Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, and Pinehurst, the Carolinas seldom look at their metropolitan centers for as golf meccas. Once upon a time, this was justifiable. Even as recently as the late 1980s, the Charlotte and Raleigh/Durham metro areas were severely lacking in daily-fee golf facilities.
Emerald Lake Golf Club is one of the Charlotte area's most popular public courses. True to its name, water is a prominent feature on the golf course. It's not just the water hazards that make this a tough course though. You'll be faced with strategically placed bunkers, sloped greens, and fairways tightly lined with trees.
Located at the heart of Mecklenburg County, Skybrook Golf Club is considered one of the best golf courses in the Charlotte area. The layout tumbles across a variety of elevation changes that range from subtle to dramatic. Skybrook Golf Club test your accuracy and your distance, but the generous landing areas keep it player friendly enough for beginners.
The 18-hole Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation in Charlotte, North Carolina is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1997. Designed by Tom Jackson, Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation measures 6965 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 135 and a 73.
Piedmont Triad area -- anchored by the three central cities of Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point -- deserves to take its rightful place as a great destination for residents and visitors alike. Historically known for textiles, tobacco, and furniture, the Triad has become a growing metro area that offers enough in the way of culture, outdoor activities, museums, and shopping to satisfy the most discerning traveler.
The 18-hole Forest Oaks Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1962. Designed by Ellis Maples, Forest Oaks Country Club measures 7212 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 145 and a 75.
Oak Valley Golf Club boasts the only Arnold Palmer-designed course in the Winston-Salem area. The course sprawls across what used to be old dairy farmland, nestled in the North Carolina foothills. Palmer utilized the rolling, wooded terrain and transformed the site into one of the Triad’s most scenic golf courses.
Meadowlands Golf Club sits at the heart of the Piedmont Triad, making it accessible for golfers from Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point. Designed by Hale Irwin, the course is a favorite among locals. There are some challenging holes where you'll have to contend with strategically placed bunkers and treacherous water hazards.
As you drive north on U.S. Highway 17 from North Myrtle Beach and over the state line, t-shirt shops and mini golf courses give way to Mom-and-Pop seafood restaurants, quaint beach cottages, and rustic roadside gift shops. Anchoring the coast of this pristine region are the Brunswick Islands - a group of barrier islands that run from the world famous "seafood capital" of Calabash, North Carolina, all the way north to the Cape Fear River south of Wilmington. The scenery is unrivaled, as Carolina Oaks and Pines blend together to give the area a true mid-Atlantic feel.
Brick Landing Plantation is an 18-hole course, designed by H. M. Brazeal along the Intracoastal Waterway, featuring ocean views. Hardwood forests and saltwater marshes also characterize this South Brunswick Island layout.
Carolina Shores Golf & Country Club is situated in Calabash, N.C. a scenic fishing village. The mature woodland landscape provides a secluded and relaxing setting that is ideal for a round of golf. Though it may be peaceful, you still have to be on your toes with plenty of water hazards and sand traps lurking throughout this traditional layout.
The 9-hole Stewart (formerly known as South Course) at Thistle Golf Club in Sunset Beach, North Carolina is a public golf course that opened in 2000. Designed by Tim Cate, Wtewart at Thistle Golf Club measures 3351 yards from the longest tees.
The Inner Banks of North Carolina, situated on Albemarle Sound about 75 miles west of the Outer Banks, is blessed by more than 3,000 miles of inland coastline and charming small villages like Edenton, Windsor and Plymouth. It was one of the first areas in North America to be settled by Europeans, who grew large crops of cotton, tobacco and peanuts.
The Country Club of the Crystal Coast sits along the Bogue Sound, sprawling across sand dunes and weaving through the Maritime Forest. At just over 6,000 yards from the back tees, the course doesn't have the length that some other championship layouts have but there are still plenty of challenges in store.
Scotch Hall Preserve, formerly known as Innsbrook Golf Course boasts a championship course designed by Arnold Palmer. The layout features 11 holes that border either the Albemarle Sound or Salmon Creek, offering stunning views. The golf course is defined by strategically placed, challenging bunker complexes that border subtly undulating greens that are trickier than they seem.
The 18-hole Brandywine Bay Golf Club in Morehead City, North Carolina is a resort golf course that opened in 1977. Designed by Bruce Devlin, Brandywine Bay Golf Club measures 6609 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 130 and a 72 USGA rating.
The Outer Banks (OBX), skinny, sandy islands that thread their way along North Carolina's coast from Virginia Beach to Cape Lookout, wake up from their winter snooze as the weather warms and vacation-minded travelers head to places like Nag's Head, Corolla, Duck and Kitty Hawk to unwind, sink their toes into deep sand and pursue their favorite activities.
The Currituck Club has a Rees Jones-designed layout that stands out from other Outer Banks courses, mostly thanks to its ideal location along the Currituck Sound. The golf course shares the landscape with an abundance of wildlife including deer, osprey, geese, and turtles.
Nags Head Golf Club has a traditional Scottish-links layout that is right at home on the windswept terrain of the Outer Banks. Situated along the Roanoke Sound, the rugged coastline and rolling sand dunes perfectly mimic a classic links landscape. The golf course is a shot maker's layout that will test your skills but it is still player friendly enough to appeal to all skill levels.
The 18-hole Pointe Golf Club in Powells Point, North Carolina is a public golf course that opened in 1995. Designed by Russell Breeden, Pointe Golf Club measures 6343 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 127 and a 70.
Wilmington, North Carolina exudes a sense of time and place. Anchored by its 200-block historic district, this bustling river city of over 100,000 residents has one of the most vibrant downtowns in the state, and one of the strongest tourist industries in the Southeast.
Beau Rivage Golf & Resort, an 18-hole championship course built in 1988, features TifEagle greens, naturally contoured Bermuda fairways and tees and elevations of 70 feet (including the highest point in Wilmington).
The 18-hole Cape Fear National at Brunswick Forest in Leland, North Carolina is a private golf course that opened in 2009. Cape Fear National at Brunswick Forest was designed by Tim Cate.