For A Great Golf Holiday: Play the North Carolina “Golf Coast”

Tiger’s Eye Golf Links • Sunset Beach, NC

If you’re looking for a wonderful golf holiday, look to the “Golf Coast” of North Carolina! An easy flight into Wilmington International Airport is your first stop to a wonderful vacation destination. Stretched along the 45 mile Brunswick Islands and mainland coastline are more than 30 of the world’s finest golf courses. The weather is mild year-round, so any time of the year you choose to visit, is a great time to play the game you love. With so many courses to choose from, your golf holiday along the “Golf Coast” offers beauty and challenges for you and your friends no matter your level of expertise.

North Carolina Golf Coast
North Carolina’s Golf Coast

I have just returned from a whirlwind media tour of these pristine Brunswick Islands. For four indulgent days, I played golf, sampled fabulous seafood, and rejuvenated both my body and my spirit with visits to a winery, a gallery of art and a relaxing morning at a wonderful spa in the coastal town of Calabash, NC.

Here are a few highlights from my North Carolina golf trip and suggestions to help you plan your own Brunswick Islands golf adventure.

DAY 1 Arrival at Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina

The Winds Resort Beach Club
The Winds Resort Beach Club

We stayed at The Winds Resort Beach Club. The casual atmosphere and central location made it the ideal choice for our golf holiday. The resort offers accommodations for any size group—from mini-suites for one or two, to six bedroom cottages. Most units are oceanfront and have kitchen facilities, dining/living rooms, and patios for gathering in the evenings.

I wish I’d had more time to spend on the beach or at the resort’s pool. The Tiki Bar looked particularly inviting. If you are planning a visit to the Brunswick Islands, consider The Winds Resort.

The Winds Resort

Dinner at The Boundary House, Calabash

The city of Calabash, NC is considered by many to be “The Seafood Capital of the World” and The Boundary House restaurant certainly supported that reputation on our first night on the Brunswick Islands. This popular 4.5 star restaurant did not disappoint. Unable to make a choice of only one dish, I indulged myself and chose a dish known as “Clark’s Combo.” Fried oysters, blackened flounder and large tender shrimp, served grilled. Perfect.

DAY 2 Golf at Brunswick Plantation Golf Course

Brunswick Plantation Golf
Brunswick Plantation Resort & Golf

We were all up early, eager for our first tee time. The Brunswick Plantation was less than a half hour away and we arrived in time to hit a few drives and test the condition of the greens at the practice area.

The 27 hole championship layout was designed by Willard Byrd and Clyde Johnston and is divided into three 9 hole courses; Magnolia, Dogwood, and Azalea. Each course is distinctive. We played Magnolia with its wide fairways, followed by Dogwood, with its long and narrow design. Water and hidden hazards made the course challenging but thoroughly enjoyable and with five different tees to choose from, every golfer in our party had a successful round of golf. Luckily, we were joined by Justin, the club pro, who helped us avoid any trouble spots.

With their Stay & Play Golf Packages and three beautiful courses, a golfer could easily spend days at this one resort. The casual atmosphere and southern hospitality made for a wonderful day of golf.

Magnolia-Azalea Brunswick golf courses.
Magnolia-Azalea golf courses.

Dinner at The Oyster Rock, Calabash

One of the most memorable meals we enjoyed was waterfront dining at The Oyster Rock.

Grilled, blackened, fried? However seafood can be prepared, The Oyster Rock measures up. Take a quick look at their dinner menu to get an idea of the variety they offer.

Oysters Rockefeller topped with a special spinach, cheese and bacon mix were only a small part of our first course. Within a few minutes, platters of shrimp, calamari, bowls of chowder and fresh shucked oysters covered our table. My main dish of cast-iron seared scallops? Among the best seafood dinners I have ever enjoyed.

A couple of our writers ordered smoked drinks which only added to the drama! The Burning Ship with a blend of Bourbon, Cointreau and St. Germaine Elderflower came to the table smoking! A lot of fun.

Finally, A Special Dessert! at the famous Calabash Creamery topped off the night. With only minutes to spare before the creamery closed for the evening, we rushed up the road for day #2’s last indulgence. For nearly two decades the Calabash Creamery has won the award for the best ice cream in Brunswick County. We had to give it a try! Yumm!

DAY 3 – Golf at Tiger’s Eye at Ocean Ridge

An early morning tee time had us all scrambling, but by 7 am we were gathered on the first tee of Tiger’s Eye. one of the “ferocious four” Big Cats golf courses of Ocean Ridge Plantation.

With many accolades to it’s name, I leave it to the course website to give you the most current information: Tiger’s Eye is an upscale, daily fee course carved from a virgin pine forest. The course is distinguished by dramatic elevation changes, reminiscent of the North Carolina sandhills. Tiger’s Eye is a thinking person’s course, requiring precision shot-making and a reliable short game. The course hosts a stunning combination of natural waste areas, native grasses, wildflowers, pine and oak trees, and water features, including marshlands and waterfalls. Tiger’s Eye has been recognized by several national golf publications as being among the best in the country and is an annual award winner.

SHOPPING!!! at Lori’s Golf Shoppe

No golf vacation should be without it’s mandatory shopping spree and we found the perfect store in Calabash, NC.

Most of the pro shops at the courses we played had little or no golf fashions for women. Lori’s Golf Shoppe solves that dilemma. The store specializes in women’s golf apparel—for every woman, of every size. With the latest styles and the best brands to choose from, every golfer can find just what they are looking for.

Don’t live close enough to shop??? Lori’s Golf Shoppe is online! And I can personally vouch for their great service.

Taking in a bit of North Carolina Brunswick Islands culture!

Backlit Palms - Carol Iglesias

The afternoon of our third day was split into two cultural events. First, a visit to Sunset River Marketplace, a gallery featuring the outstanding artwork of nearly 200 local and regional artists. Visitors will find impressive treasures in many mediums from clay sculpture to oils and watercolors.

Next on the schedule: wine tasting at Silver Coast Winery where we toured the barrel room and sampled many of their award winning wines including American Oak Chardonnay and my favorite, the dark red Touriga otherwise known as Cape Fear Blood Wine.

Dinner at Ocean Isle Fish Company, Ocean Isle Beach

“A Flip-Flop Atmosphere” • Local Seafood

After a full day of golf and sampling the cultural sites of Ocean Isle, we were grateful to kick-back and tuck-in at the Ocean Isle Fish Company Restaurant. It’s casual dining at the water’s edge on the freshest of seafood. The daily catch is offloaded from fishing boats to the Fish Company docks, moving quickly to kitchen to table. The restaurant includes a Tiki Bar with fabulous views of Ocean Isle Beach and the Atlantic. Specialty drinks in souvenir glasses are a big feature!

A Popular Menu Item:
Ahi Yellowfin Tuna Thinly sliced yellowfin tuna, rolled in black & white sesame seeds, seared rare. 

DAY 4 – Golf at Arnold Palmer’s Rivers Edge

Rivers Edge – Hole #9 “Arnold’s Revenge”

Our last day of golf was played at the course designed by the great Arnold Palmer: Rivers Edge. Set along the bluffs and tidal marshes of the Shallotte River, the course is challenging at every turn. It would take many visits to Rivers Edge to even begin to understand it’s many special features.

The most famous of the holes is #9, the one Mr. Palmer dubbed “Arnold’s Revenge.” The fairway is broken in two, separated by marsh and tall grasses. There is no easy escape from the hazards. And, if you do manage to reach the very narrow and deep green, you will find the hole very near real danger. Only the most precise play will meet with success. This hole certainly does live up to it’s name.

Dinner at Fishy Fish Café, Southport

Casual Open Air Dining at the Fishy Fish Café

The Fishy Fish Café in Southport : Dining at sunset along the coast of the Carolinas, fresh seafood and good company… can’t get better than that for a final celebratory meal. We each chose our favorite from the wide variety of options on the menu. I chose fried green tomatoes as a starter—a southern treat for a northern girl. For my entree: Shrimp Kabobs, local style, with sausage and peppers. Delicious!

Charred Grilled Salmon is a very popular selection. Grilled salmon over cauliflower puree topped with cherry tomato relish and served with the vegetable of the day

DAY 5 – Final Indulgence at the Sacred Willow Spa, Calabash, North Carolina

A special treat! We were each invited to enjoy a morning of personal indulgence (a massage and a facial) at the Sacred Willow Spa.

Sacred Wellness Spa Massage

After three days of golf it was a pleasure to allow a professional to work out all the kinks that sometimes appear when I play a little too hard.

The spa offers a wide variety of skin and bodywork therapies and treatments. Visit their website for details. Both therapists who worked with me gave excellent treatments. A twisted knot in my back that had been annoying me for months was greatly relieved. I only wish I lived closer. I’d be a regular customer!

The Bottom Line: For a wonderful golf vacation, visit North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Long, sandy beaches, award winning restaurants, and of course, dozens of premier level golf courses to play are just waiting for you to enjoy. Call 1-800-795-7263 for details and to request your official guide to Golf in NC’s Brunswick Islands.

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