OUTER BANKS, NC (November 2012) – North Carolina’s seashore isolationism allowed the Wright brothers to create manned flight. The same privacy enabled wild Spanish mustang horses to form a unique habitat on similar sandy soil. “Away from it all” is how you’ll feel when you tee it up on any one of the outstanding golf courses located along the state’s northern barrier islands, collectively called the Outer Banks (OBX).
But don’t think for a moment that this coastal destination is bereft of things to do once your group’s round of golf is complete. When not standing on a green or tee box looking out across the ocean or a sound, you’ll be busy living the good life in quaint villages and towns with funky names like Currituck, Corolla, Coinjock, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Duck and Kitty Hawk.
Here are 10 “shore” things that make the Outer Banks of North Carolina a perfect destination for a golf buddy trip:
1. A famous expression was coined long ago at Cahoon’s Grocery and Variety Store in Nags Head. It goes, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” This OBX motto could easily be applied to its golf. From true barrier island links courses to modern parkland marvels located inland, the region is so chock full of variety, you truly don’t have to go anywhere else. The challenges at such layouts as Kilmarlic, The Pointe, The Carolina Club, Nags Head Golf Links and The Currituck Club are as spectacular as the coastal views they possess.
2. A wilderness of blowing dunes and sand flats in Kitty Hawk not only provided a remote test area for the Wrights to conduct their flights and study those results without distraction, it also provided for a memorable history lesson for visitors to the area more than a century later. The U.S. Government built the Wright Brothers Memorial site in 1932 and today National Park Service interpreters lead you through the historic events leading up to air travel. So don’t miss an opportunity to stand on the very spot where Orville and Wilbur first flew.
3. A wide range of top-shelf and equally eclectic accommodations can be found all along OBX, from The Sanderling Resort & Spa in Duck to the fully-equipped Kilmarlic Golf Cottage featuring golf course views of the mainland’s Tom Steele-designed championship course. If your group prefers to be closer to the shore, you can choose from a vast array of beach or sound-side homes that range from one-bedroom condos to multiple bedroom estates. Then, rest up between rounds at any number of privately-owned vacation residences with luxuries such as private pools, pool tables, high-definition televisions and much more.
4. Afternoon drives take on a whole new meaning along the coast just minutes north of Rees Jones’ 18-hole gem known as The Currituck Club. There, a unique après-golf excursion unfolds in the form of 12 miles of beachfront that is only accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles. Known as “beach riding,” this one-of-a-kind activity leads you to nothing but sun, sand, ocean, some vacation rental homes and those wild Spanish mustangs that can be found grazing in an untamed area called the “Corolla Outback.” Spotting the feisty horses is a popular OBX pastime.
5. The shifting sands of Jockey’s Ridge, the largest natural sand dune on the east coast (located in Nags Head), provide for lots of laughter and plenty of soft landings. Whether you choose to run down it or hand glide off of it, a dose of the “Ridge” will leave some lasting impressions. While there, take advantage of your early tee time. The sunsets over the sound from atop Jockey’s Ridge are spectacular.
6. Ask any regular visitor to OBX and he or she will most likely clue you in about breakfast at Sam and Omie’s. Or lunch at Tortugas’ Lie. Or dinner at Sugar Creek Seafood. Or takeout from Currituck BBQ Company. These are just a sampling of the timeless dining experiences you’ll discover along the strip. There’s always a fresh catch of the day at any number of other fine eating establishments (i.e., North Banks Restaurant & Raw Bar, Barefoot Bernie’s Tropical Grill & Bar and Ocean Boulevard Bistro & Martini Bar) that will keep you coming back for more.
7. Find your way to The Lost Colony, a historical drama that tells the story of the first attempt at English settlement in the New World. An Outer Banks tradition and cultural treasure, The Lost Colony educates, enriches and entertains. It is America’s longest running outdoor drama and is located on the north end of historic Roanoke Island.
8. The barrier islands of North Carolina are known for their storms and their mighty shipwrecks (a storm at sea is how the wild Spanish horses are said to have ended up where they are – tossed overboard, they swam to shore). Still, don’t let this notion curb your enthusiasm for fishing in the region. The Outer Banks are renowned for offering some of the best angling opportunities in the world. If you prefer to stay tied to the land, stop by one of the many fishing shops and gear up for shore or pier fishing.
9. The monster of all monster truck racing vehicles is the Grave Digger. As the brainchild of Currituck native Dennis Anderson, the Grave Digger can be found at Digger’s Dungeon in Poplar Branch. The museum/tourist attraction is stocked with a wide variety of souvenirs. Don’t miss an opportunity to have all your buddies’ pictures taken next to the famed monster truck and its five-foot-plus tires
10. From museums to parks and gardens, the Outer Banks golf destination is full of endless activities that reflect the area’s rich history and tradition. For those who like hunting lighthouses as much as they do birdies, the region is well known for a beautiful string of lighthouses that stretch from Corolla in the north all the way to Cape Hatteras in the south. One excursion that shouldn’t be missed is trip over to Knotts Island. A ferry operates from the mainland not far from The Carolina Club over to the marshy island bordered by the Currituck Sound, North Landing River, Back Bay, and Knotts Island Bay. Knotts Island is home to Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge. For duck hunters, Knotts Island is home to numerous duck hunting blinds located in the surrounding waters and on land.