Already played (and stayed) in Florida, California and the Capital Region? It’s time to tee off in the Carolinas
Thanks to its intoxicating mix of magical mountain towns (here’s looking at Asheville, the childhood home of writer,Thomas Wolfe), booming microbreweries, sandy barrier islands (Ocracoke island, anyone?), forested mountain ranges - say hello to the Smokies (America’s most visited national park) and the Blue Ridge Mountains (America’s favourite drive) - unique bluegrass music scene, ability to serve fab barbecue and yes - great golfing opportunities - the southern state of North Carolina has charm by the bucket load.
The Omni Grove Park Inn
Swing into a round of golf on the historic 18-hole course at The Omni Grove Park Inn. Designed by Donald Ross in 1926, this 6,400-yard championship course has been played by PGA stars Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus and politicians including President Obama. The course was overhauled in 2001 - and has since earned nods from Conde Nast Traveler and North Carolina Golf Panel - but the feel and spirit remains the same: expect amazing views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the tree-lined fairways and bent greens.
Green fee from US$75 -US$140; www.omnihotels.com/hotels/asheville-grove-park/golf
Known as the cradle of American golf, Pinehurst Resort boasts no fewer than nine 18-hole, world-famous championship golf courses but its most revered golf course is Pinehurst No. 2 - widely considered one of the game’s architectural masterpieces.
No. 2, which reopened in March 2011 following a year long $2.5 million restoration by design firm, Coore & Crenshaw, is best known for its crowned, undulating greens, - some of the most complex in the world - set amid towering pines.
Pinehurst reserves advance tee times for resort guests. If you wish to play at Pinehurst and aren’t a resort guest, contact the golf shop for tee times and rates 24 hours in advance of your play date.
Two 18-hole Donald Ross designed golf courses have helped Pine Needles earn its place among America’s best golf resorts.
Measuring more than 7,000 yards in length, The Pines course follows the natural contours of the land, by the position of the sand traps and shaping of the greens.
Meanwhile Mid Pines remains exactly as Donald Ross crafted the course in 1921, a rarity among his masterpieces. Its most memorable hole is the postcard perfect, par-3 which plays over a pond to a back-to-front sloping green, that’s framed by majestic pine trees.
Green fee from US$85-US$235 (The Pines) and US$85-US$195 (Mid Pines);
Crossing the border into South Carolina is akin to stepping back in time: read charming cobblestone streets, carriage rides, colourful colonial-era mansions, mammoth oak trees dripping with moss and Instagram-friendly antebellum plantations.
Other attractions include palm studded beaches and the chance to get better acquainted with Gullah (a culture created by enslaved Africans in18th century, in an attempt to retain their homeland traditions).
That said South Carolina’s biggest draw is its southern hospitality - don’t be surprised if you’re invited home for sweet tea and Southern fried chicken…
Wild Dunes Resort
The Links Course at Wild Dunes Resort was Tom Fazio's first major solo design. Today, it’s newly renovated and still among his favourites - the ASGCA architect called the Links course “an architect's dream” - owing to the rustling palms lining lush, rolling fairways and a finishing hole overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Elsewhere the Harbor Course is famed for its water - lagoons and salt marshes come into play on every hole. Make no mistake: the Harbor Course may be the Links’ little sibling but it poses huge challenges.
Green fee from US$55 (Harbor course); from US$65 (Links Course)
Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Sitting prettily by the sea, Kiawah Island Golf Resort is a haven for golfers boasting, as it does, five public courses - step forward Cougar Point, Osprey Point, Turtle Point Oak Point and The Ocean Course - sure to challenge anyone with a passion for the game.
The latter, which plays along 7,296 yards, is arguably the jewel in Kiawah’s crown. As its name suggests, golfers can look forward to panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and more seaside holes than any other course in the Northern Hemisphere. Little wonder then that The Ocean Course was chosen as a key location for golf flick The Legend of Bagger Vance.
Green fee from US$300; www.kiawahresort.com
Harbour Town Golf Links
Tiny Hilton Head island - South Carolina’s largest barrier island - is one of America’s top golf spots and home to more than 400 golf holes. However it is Harbour Town - whose 18th green is back-dropped by a lighthouse (Hilton Head’s enduring symbol) and the Calibogue Sound (the channel between the island and the mainland) - where most golfers want to tee it up.
Harbour Town Golf Links was Jack Nicklaus' first foray into golf architecture back in 1969. The course - which Nicklaus co-designed with Pete Dye - continues to challenge pros and tourists in equal measure, owing to its interestingly shaped greens and lagoons.
Green fee from US$190-US$380; www.seapines.com/golf/harbour-town-golf-links
When to go
Autumn (September- October) and Spring (April-May) is the optimumtime to take to the greens. The weather is warm and pleasant, but not too hot.
Green fees range from US$55-US$380.
The Carolinas are approximately a 13 hour flight from London.
UK citizens must register with the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov) 72 hours before arrival. Registration costs US$14 and is valid for two years.
No specific vaccinations are required.
For flexibility and convenience, renting a car is crucial.
Tourism board contact
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