Last Autumn, a five-round, four-night golf adventure along North Carolina’s northeastern barrier islands was strategically chosen for its seaside positioning and potential windswept nature. The Wright Brothers came to the Outer Banks hoping for consistently faster winds and higher air density to help lift their “flying machine” off the sandy soil in the early 1900s. And they got them. So, it was only natural that our golf group should seek out those precise conditions in order to prepare for an impending challenge against three famed Open Championship venues that exist along England’s northwest coast. Not surprisingly, we got the winds too.
As it turned out, the only real surprise surfaced a week later while playing amongst the dunes that defend against the cold, battering winds that typically sweep off the Irish Sea. As rounds persisted across historic Royal Liverpool (Hoylake), Royal Lytham and St. Annes, and Royal Birkdale, one couldn’t help but think back to the days immediately prior.
Through the chilly British dreariness arose memories of warm Atlantic Ocean breezes, sound-side vistas, brilliant sunshine, sweet southern hospitality and quality food. Oh, that Tar Heel food. It’s no secret that the Englishfare can be dreadful in the pubs and taverns so far away from home.
Never before had the words of James Taylor rung so true: “Gone to Carolina in my mind…” It was decided then. Our next golf trip stays on home shores.
Granted, the extraordinary linksland, the game’s rich tournament history, and those unpredictable elements of nature found in the British Isles (not to mention driving on the “wrong” side of the road) make up and experience that should be on every serious golfer’s bucket list. But for all the quality, ease, accessibility (from the “right” side of the road) and value available much closer to home, it’s not a stretch to say that a memorable golf trip in its own right can also be had along the Carolina coast – specifically, the Outer Banks.
But why this particular stretch of beach?
Well, because OBX, as it is known as in local parlance, is simply different. Not unlike golf in the Old Country, it’s pure. It’s not the trumped-up, touristy golf destination that has developed over time in other coastal towns. Instead, it is a throwback coastal retreat with a charm that is preserved not only in its distinct culture but across many of its big-name golf designs as well.
Arguably the state’s most enchanting tourist destination, the Outer Banks is a true American treasure.
The region has always been known as a family-oriented destination, with plenty of sand, sun, sea and saltwater to excite even the calmest of children. In recent years, OBX has begun to assert itself as a true golf destination, with an array of courses that are more closely tied to all of nature’s coastal elements than what you’ll find in other East Coast golf destinations.