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.
Lockwood Folly Country Club is a superbly conditioned, semi-private, member owned "hidden gem". The course is located at the confluence of the Intracoastal Waterway and the Lockwood Folly River, providing golfers with breathtaking vistas of tidal estuary, moss covered hard- woods and the solitude of nature.
Rivers Edge Golf Club is a salute to Shallotte (pronounced sha-loot), a beautifully laid-out stunner along the banks of the Shallotte River and the surrounding marshes, at the northern tip of the Grand Strand. Just don't let your friends coerce you into being Macho Man and play it from the back tees if you're a mid- to high-handicapper.
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.
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.
Rock Barn Golf & Spa offers two championship courses, one designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and the other by Tom Jackson. The Jackson Course tumbles across picturesque valleys, offering both dramatic elevation changes and beautiful scenery.
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.
The 18-hole Mooresville Golf Club in Mooresville, North Carolina is a public golf course that opened in 1949. Designed by Donald Ross, Mooresville Golf Club measures 6603 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 132 and a 71.5 USGA rating. The course features 5 sets of tees for different skill levels.
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 18-hole Maggie Valley Resort & Country Club in Maggie Valley, North Carolina is a resort golf course that opened in 1961. Maggie Valley Resort & Country Club measures 6466 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 128 and a 69.
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.
The 18-hole Lake Junaluska Golf Course in Waynesville, North Carolina is a public golf course that opened in 1919. Lake Junaluska Golf Course measures 5167 yards from the longest tees. The course features 4 sets of tees for different skill levels.
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.
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 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.
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.
The 18-hole Lake at Carolina Trace Country Club in Sanford, North Carolina is a private golf course that opened in 1971. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. , Lake at Carolina Trace Country Club measures 6861 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 139 and a 74.
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.
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.
Challenge Golf Club sprawls across a scenic stretch of rolling farmland that sits alongside the Haw River. The lush hills are accented with mature hardwood forests, providing a scenic setting for a round of golf. The hilly terrain on this golf course will test not only your shot-making abilities but also your accuracy.
Since Tanglewood Golf Club's Championship Course opened in 1958 it has consistently ranked as one of the top public courses in the U.S. This Robert Trent Jones layout has 99 bunkers.
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.
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.
The 18-hole Magnolia Greens Golf Plantation - Magnolia/Camellia Course in Leland, North Carolina is a public golf course that opened in 1998. Designed by Tom Jackson, Magnolia Greens Golf Plantation - Magnolia/Camellia Course measures 7031 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 138 and a 74.
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.
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.
Southern Pines Golf Club boasts a Donald Ross design that is considered one of the best courses in North Carolina. The diverse layout will please traditionalists while also rewarding creative shot-makers. The course requires everything from bump-and-runs to tricky tee shots that favor accuracy over distance. There are a variety of ways to play each hole, making strategy a key element to doing well.
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.
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.