Want history with your golf? Try historic Edenton on the Albemarle Sound

By Katharine Dyson, Special Contributor

Historic Edenton, North Carolina is a picturesque slice of small-town America. Located on the Albermarle Sound, golf lovers will also love fun golf courses such as Chowan Golf & Country Club and Scotch Hall Preserve.

Chowan Golf & Country Club
Chowan Golf & Country Club, though not terribly challenging, still provides a fun day of golf.
Chowan Golf & Country ClubChowan County CourthouseScotch Hall Preserve golf courseChowan Golf & Country Club - pondEdenton homesScotch Hall Preserve - hole 18Granville Queen Inn in Edenton
If you go

EDENTON, N.C. - To come here to stay and play golf you have to really appreciate history and all the laid-back quirkiness of small towns. You have to want to come here.

Still, as you drive through acres of peanut farms, it doesn't appear promising. Then you hit Edenton, and right away you know it was worth the effort.

It's like you've taken a step back in time to a perfect town like "The Truman Show's" Seahaven, or Disney's Celebration. Thing is, it's real.

Some of the many 18th- and 19th-century homes that line tree-shaded streets have been lovingly cared for by the same family for more than 200 years, and the turn-of-the-century cotton mill is being converted to condominiums. Around the mill, small houses once used by the workers are being restored by private owners and are part of the Edenton Cotton Mill Village.

Edenton, North Carolina: History alive

The first capital of colonial North Carolina, here when they talk about "the war," it's not the Civil War, it's the Revolutionary War. The oldest house was built in 1744, and the imposing brick Chowan County Courthouse dates from 1767.

Along Broad Street, the three-block downtown area, there are no chain retail outlets, diagonal parking is free, and the tallest building is the old five-story peanut processing plant. At the end is Albemarle Sound, which on a windy days can churn up the water pretty good.

In Edenton, you walk to shops and restaurants, walk to the water. You hang out on porches and go kayaking or canoeing.

Located in the Inner Banks of North Carolina, Edenton has just 5,000 people (15,000 in the greater Edenton area) so it's, well, quiet. People go to bed early, and the loudest thing you may hear after 10 p.m. are the wind chimes on the porch.

We stayed at Granville Queen Inn (www.granvillequeen.com), a bed and breakfast in the historic center. Breakfast on the Victorian porch, having a glass of wine on the front veranda after golf and indulging in a breakfast of Belgian waffles, cheese and herb omelet, fresh fruit and all kinds of homemade breads are reasons enough to stay here.

The Granville Queen has seven guest rooms and all have large, private baths and thick, comfortable mattresses along with modern amenities like WiFi and TVs. Innkeepers and owners, Dora and David Drohen, will help you arrange tee times and restaurant reservations.

Historic Edenton: Golf

We warmed up playing Chowan Golf & Country Club less than 10 minutes from Granville Queen Inn. The golf course has a stunning setting along Albemarle Sound, and although there is water on 15 holes, it's a short, very playable, not overly challenging, track.

Chowan Golf & Country Club's first nine holes opened in 1963, it then morphed into 18 in 1983. Like a fussy old relative, Chowan has it eccentricities. The original nine greens are Bermuda grass while the new nine are bentgrass, so it takes a little getting used to the difference in putting surfaces.

Still, the course is fun to play, the views are lovely and the price is a bargain. And while you're there, Head Professional Jerry Morrison can custom-fit you with Henry-Griffitts clubs, the ones Christina Kim uses.

Be sure to try Chowan's restaurant where chef Anthony Grieco changes the menu every week offering items like salmon with vodka, or fresh pan-seared trout.

About 20 minutes from Edenton, you can play one of the finest golf courses in North Carolina, the new semi-private Scotch Hall Preserve, an Arnold Palmer Signature course. Built as the centerpiece of the 1,000-acre master planned community, the golf course stretches along Albemarle Sound.

Named America's Ninth Best New Private Course in 2009 by Golf Digest, Scotch Preserve is a fair course for all levels with lots of interest, well placed formidable bunker complexes and excellent Bent grass greens where subtle undulations can be tricky. The par 3s are particularly dramatic with carries over wetlands to elevated greens.

Just a handful of the 450 planned homes have been built which is good news for visiting golfers. For the moment, a sense of space and serenity prevails. We saw but one other couple and played a round in three and a half hours.

Once the economy picks up and word gets out you can have a really fine custom home for around $400,000 (lots start at $125,000), all that will change. Plans call for the course to be converted from semi-private to private. In the meantime, you can enjoy a terrific course at a great price of $55.

Other Edenton-area golf courses

Other area golf courses well worth playing are the Carolina Club in Powells Point and the Sound Links Golf Course, a Dan Maples design at Albemarle Plantation.

Edenton dining

There are plenty of good restaurants including Sean's Market & Restaurant (www.seansrestaurant.com), Waterman's Grill (www.watermansgrill.com), a popular local haunt, and Chero's Market Cafe (Tel. 252-482-5525).

For seafood and local fish, try Mac's Back Door Oyster Bar & Grill at Wharf Landing (www.macsbackdooroysterbar.com) where a pound of shrimp costs $16.30 while a beer is just $2.99.

At Edenton Bay Oyster Bar & Seafood Co. (Tel. 252-482-3663), a pound of crab legs is $15.95; a grouper dinner is $14.95.

Edenton is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Raleigh, and an hour and a half from Norfolk, Va. For more information, see www.chowancounty-nc.gov.

Katharine DysonKatharine Dyson, Special Contributor

Katharine Dyson is a golf and travel writer for several national publications as well as guidebook author and radio commentator. Her journeys have taken her around the world playing courses and finding unique places to stay. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, Metropolitan Golf Writers of America; Golf Travel Writers Organization and Society of American Travel Writers. Follow Katharine on Twitter at @kathiegolf.

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