by Mike Dojc
From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Outer Banks and the Research Triangle on down south to Daufuskie Island, the Carolinas teem with picture postcard golf courses. Multiple road trips and months of accrued vacation days would be needed for golfers to make a significant dent on their tracks to play in these parts before reaching that “19th hole in the sky” list. Get the ball rolling with these popular courses.
Enroll in College Golf
Pull on a baby blue polo and begin your study of fine fairways and greens at UNC Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill, a Tom Fazio design that wends through old-growth shagbark hickory trees. Next on the syllabus, tee off at Duke University Golf Club where you’ll need to be an honor student in swing confidence to stay dry on No. 12. The 181-yard, par-3 plays completely over water from tee to green. Cap off your budding scholarship with a trek to Lonnie Poole Golf Course where N.C. State’s Wolfpack roam. Marvel at the Raleigh skyline on No. 11, a 665-yard, par-5 whopper. A new semester’s course work commences at The Furman Golf Club, a bucolic pine-framed parkland tract which lorded above the fray as the #1 Public Golf Course in Greenville on the most recent South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel’s rankings. Then stalk the Tigers’ illustrious golf alums at Clemson’s Walker Golf Course. The 17th green and bunkers pay homage to the university’s paw insignia. Extra credit: tack on Cobblestone Park Golf Club, the Gamecocks roost.
Stay: When in Chapel Hill, stay at Carolina Inn (AAA Four Diamond). The hotel is located on the campus of the University of North Carolina and it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Diamonds and Doglegs
Down for having memories of that whiffed iron shot or painful three-putt that ran up your scorecard kneaded away by a skilled masseuse? Our Diamond and Doglegs picks stick to Four and Five Diamond hotels where a spa is only a mere chip shot or shuttle ride away. Pinehurst, N.C, the cradle of American golf, pampers players with nine exquisite courses including the legendary No. 2, a U.S. Open site that will next host the national championship in 2024.
Stay: The Holly Inn or The Carolina Hotel (AAA Four Diamond) properties. Iron out the kinks in your game with the “Golfer’s Massage” at Pinehurst’s spa.
Set among sand dunes, salt marshes and the lapping Atlantic surf, Kiawah Island Golf Resort tantalizes players with a five-course menu. The Ocean Course, the belle of the ball, opened in 1991 to stage “The War on the Shore,” a Ryder Cup decided in Team USA’s favor on the 18th hole of the final match. Major golf drama continued to unfold at The Ocean Course over the years and the spotlight next returns for the 2021 PGA Championship.
Stay: The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort (AAA Five Diamond) where the spa menu includes a golf ball massage.
Heading to Hilton Head Island? Atlantic Dunes, named the National Golf Course Owners Association’s Golf Course of the Year in 2017 and Harbour Town Golf Links, home of the PGA’s RBC Heritage are two beauts not to miss.
With over 80 courses to play along the Grand Strand, you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew on a single trip. With an eye towards minimizing commute time along the 60 miles of coastline stretching from Brunswick Country, N.C., to Georgetown, S.C., we’ve devised four separate golf itineraries:
North of the Border: Thistle River Golf Club, Rivers Edge Golf Club, Leopard’s Chase and Farmstead Golf Links
North Myrtle: Tidewater Golf Club, Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links, Barefoot Resort & Golf
Central Myrtle: Myrtle Beach National, The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Grande Dunes Resort Club and Legends Golf Resort.
South End: Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, True Blue Golf Club, TPC Myrtle Beach and Heritage Club.
Stay: Marina Inn at Grand Dunes (AAA Four Diamond) offers in-room spa treatments provided by Coastal Spa.
Grab your clubs and hit the road! For hotel reservations, contact your local AAA Travel Agent at 800-398-0379.
(Photos: UNC Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill, Brian Oar/Fairways Photography; The Walker Course at Clemson University; The Sea Pines Resort/Rob Tipton, Grand Dunes Resort Club)