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North Carolina - More Than Just the Crown Jewels
by Jonathan Gibbins

 

With Pinehurst as the golfing crown jewels of North Carolina, many people forget what it has to offer in terms of variety, price and scenery. The state boasts wonderful rolling greenery, the geographical backbone of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains and historical places to visit, which for the United States is a welcome bonus.

A real golf hot spot for the area is the Outer Banks, an isolated string of sandy islands where BlackBeard the Pirate once prodded around with his claymore and buried treasure. The area boasts an estimated 500 shipwrecks rusting away in the rough waters and a grand selection of lighthouses including the tallest in the United States at Cape Hatteras.

There are many so called "musts" for golfers around here, but top of the list is Nags Head Golf Links and the Links at the end is well worth it’s place because all the classic seaside ingredients are on show for the golfer. Bump and runs, worm burning three irons and ball attracting gorse are all part of the experience. The members tell me the characteristic shifting winds make for a different course every day, which adds to the

Nags Head Golf Links
course’s longevity. It is a target style layout with small greens, which makes up for the lack of length (6,100 yards), but add a sea breeze and you’ve got a challenge. Several holes pass by the shores of Roanoke Sound, rather like a Firth, but all I knew was that the chances of there not being a stiff wind were pretty low out here.

The course I play next is located in the city of Kitty Hawk, which has a National Monument at Kill Devil Hills, where the Wright Brothers first took flight and made air travel a reality. The history doesn’t influence the golf designers because Duck Woods Country Club is real modern American challenge with thick woods, computer generated good looks and water on 14 holes. The challenge lies in hitting fairways and greens, which has led to all the greens being resurfaced because they were too hard to hold after carrying over water most of the time. A strange, true and obviously expensive project.


The Currituck Club
Other courses to watch out for in the area are The Currituck Club, Sea Scape Golf Links and The Pointe, three courses which are all vying for places in America’s best courses list.

There is a lot of great golf to be had in North Carolina, but there is one place that just cannot be missed. After all, if your in Las Vegas you go to the casino and here you go to Pinehurst.

Most recently, it is remembered for the place where Payne Stewart claimed his bittersweet victory in the US Open in 99, but it is also recognised as probably one of the best courses in the world. By the way, the course I am talking in the No. 2 course, because Pinehurst boasts six other top class courses catered for just about any golfer.

The No. 2 course was designed by Donald Ross over a period of many years as he tinkered with his plot of land like Nick Faldo does with his golf swing. The layout is described soundly by many as a links course within a forest because of the sandy soil which Ross had to work with. The greens are not severe and favour subtle slopes with gentle swales and gathering areas surrounding them. The intention was to emphasise the art of chipping and a variety of shots for the same result – rather like a seaside challenge. Ross described it as "the

Pinehurst
fairest challenge I have ever created" and it is hard to argue with when you witness the naturalness of the score, which accumulates over a pleasant few hours of play.

This part of the country mixes with the Myrtle Beach experience and yet remains distinctive in what it has to offer further north- a combination which results in a quieter atmosphere and some pristine golfing country.

Information:

Pinehurst- 001 919 265 6811

Nags Head Golf Links- 001 919 441 8073

Duck Woods- 001 919 261 2609