North vs. South
Sibling rivalries are as old as the hills, and at more than 1 billion years of age, the hills in North and South Carolina are pretty darn old. The two Carolinas and the Blue Ridge Mountains that run through them were part of the same “Province of Carolina” until 1729, when political divisions began to form and the territories split. Today the two states enjoy the kind of relationship that twins might: identical to outsiders, vastly different to in-the-know family members. Take their golf games, for example. One might be said to favor resort-style golf opportunities while the other could be seen as preferring private club-style experiences. Of course there are examples of both in both states. Whichever you choose for your game, we say follow the same rules as with BBQ: You’re going to enjoy it no matter which state you’re in, just don’t mention how good it is next door.
Scotch Hall Preserve
Commanding the high bluffs overlooking North Carolina’s Albemarle Sound, Scotch Hall Preserve is a place of striking natural beauty and profound historical and archeological significance. Historians say it was here Sir Walter Raleigh planned to place the first English settlement in America. Even earlier, Native Americans roamed the land, leaving behind a rich collection of artifacts, now preserved in a waterfront memorial donated by Rial Corporation, community developer. “We take our stewardship seriously,” says General Manager Dutch Remkes. “Preserve is more than just part of our name, but a vital part of our mission.” Scotch Hall Preserve features one of The King’s greatest works—recently named as one of the state’s Most Scenic Courses—along with a resort-style swim pavilion and full-service marina. Homesites on the Sound and in park-like settings start under $100,000. If you’re looking to create your own special history, you’re invited to explore Scotch Hall Preserve.
Head two hours due east of Charlotte and into the footsteps of golf legends. With its first course laid out in 1898, Pinehurst has gone on to host more championships than any other course in the country—including the upcoming U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open Championships in 2014. With eight spectacular courses, it is also America’s largest golf resort. After thoroughly exhausting yourself on course, make your way over to the grand Carolina Hotel, dubbed “Queen of the South,” and enjoy a mint julep on the verandah before dining at the Four Diamond, 1895 Grille situated in their charming boutique hotel offering, The Holly Inn. If Pinehurst isn’t on your “must visit” list, it should be.
Bald Head Island
Bald Head Island, NC
No worries, no stress, and no cars. Golf carts are the preferred conveyance here, which keeps everyone in a golfing frame of mind all day long. East of the Cape Fear River, Bald Head Island is a stunningly beautiful getaway—or a full-time residence, as it is for many. It’s a 20-minute ferry from the mainland, but it’s a world away. Sitting in the northernmost subtropical region, you’ll find as many piña colada-worthy palm trees as you will moonlit clouded nights over the island’s 14 miles of beaches. Golf is a way of life here, with a top-rated course that plays along the water. Other activities, such as shopping or dining at a top restaurant, are available once you’ve had your fill of sunshine and relaxation. Consider purchasing a home, renting a home or just dropping by for a visit. Whichever you choose, Bald Head Island is the perfect blend of the refined golfing lifestyle and a laid-back, lifelong summer vacation.
If you get to Western North Carolina, there’s only one place to stay: the Old Edwards Inn & Spa. What started as a boarding house in 1860 is today one of the finest inns in the South, with an amazing spa, fantastically inspired dining and its own top golf course. [Editor’s note: I’ve visited here many times, and it’s a worthwhile place with a top-drawer staff. A must-stay if you’re in the area.] Once you’ve settled in, call the Cullasaja Club and arrange a tee time, because the Arnold Palmer-designed course here is one of those hidden gems that will absolutely blow you away. Granite cliffs, the Cullasaja River and a stunning forest landscape all set the scene for one of the most dramatic and beautiful courses you’ll ever play. A true surprise, and one well worth discovering.
The course is worthy of hosting major championships, the club celebrates the eloquently tenacious spirit of the game and the King himself is a member—what more could you ask for? Not only is Mr. Palmer on the members’ list, but in 1986 he also modified some of the holes. More recently, rookie and fourth alternate Derek Ernst won the eleventh annual Wells Fargo Championship and his first PGA TOUR victory here, beating out David Lynn and Phil Mickelson in a sudden death playoff. His win moved him from 196th to 32nd in the standings—proving that the property offers great possibilities. If you manage to beat Ernst’s final-round score of 70 on course, you can treat your fellow club members to a round of drinks in the classically beautiful clubhouse.
TPC at Piper Glen
An Arnold Palmer-designed course anchors the Tournament Players Club at Piper Glen, but it’s not the only thing you’ll want to take advantage of while on property. TPC properties are built to host PGA TOUR tournaments and events, so you know that as a member, you’re getting professional level quality in every aspect of the property—from the course to the tennis courts to the cocktails. At TPC at Piper Glen, it’s all first-class.
Old Tabby Links
Spring Island, SC
The pristine heart-shaped 3,000 acres that make up Spring Island are evidence of humans living in perfect, elegant harmony with the land. A residential community within a nature preserve, this idyllic enclave is also home to one of the southeast’s most beautiful golf courses. Opened in 1992, the Arnold Palmer designed Old Tabby Links golf course was hailed as not only a magnificent course, but also an emblem of environmental stewardship. Renovated in 2012 by the Arnold Palmer Design Company, the course has been refreshed to showcase the diversity and dynamism of each hole. Played through the live oak ‘cathedrals’ of the front nine before opening onto the verdant meadows of the homeward half, this stunning course is sure to leave you breathless and begging for more.
The Arnold Palmer Signature Course at Musgrove Mill seems to rise naturally out of the surrounding woodlands. As with all Arnold Palmer designed courses, it was built with a deep respect and consideration for the land’s natural form. At Musgrove Mill, this means the frequent changes in elevation make the course versatile, interesting and an absolute pleasure to play. As Palmer himself has it, “The formation of the Musgrove Mill Golf Club was based on a love of the game of golf and the members’ desire for selective privacy.” A special place, indeed.
Myrtle Beach, SC
Safely under the umbrella of Arnold Palmer Golf Management, the five courses at Legends offer players an all-inclusive dive into all South Carolina’s coast has to offer. The Heathland course pays tribute to pure links style golfing; low vegetation lets you see the full expanse of a hole, but the lovely Southern breeze may keep you from getting there. Whereas the Heritage Plantation course weaves its way through 600 acres of giant magnolias and 300-year-old Live Oaks. The lakes and marshes of this former rice plantation have been re-designed as some of the most beautiful golfing on the coast.
Dataw Island, SC
Discovered by the Spanish in 1514, Dataw Island was desired and fought over by the Spanish, English and French 200 years before the Revolutionary War. Today, the only battles you’ll see will be on course. In the 18th century, dikes were built to expand the island’s land for planting cotton fields. These fields have given way to greens on the Cotton Dike golf course, which follows Jenkins Creek through this lush land. The Morgan River course offers up its own personality in the way of water challenges beautifully landscaped with aquatic plants that attract wildlife to the ponds. If you miss birdie because you were looking at a Tundra Swan, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Kiawah Island, SC
Less than an hour south of Charleston, renowned Kiawah Island feels worlds away from any city. Kiawah Island may seem laid back, but it is home to some of the most challenging golf on the Southeastern coast. With more seaside holes than any other course in the Northern Hemisphere, unpredictable coastal winds and a history of championship play, the Ocean Course has earned its reputation as one of the country’s great, yet formidable, tracks. After you’ve played the Ocean Course and the four other amazing courses that make up the resort, schedule an athletic recovery massage at the Forbes Five Star-awarded Spa at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Resort. Your back will thank you.
Haig Point Club
Hilton Head Island, SC
The Rees Jones Signature Course at Haig Point Club will have you coming back again and again—literally. Its unique 20-hole design, third nine and alternate teeing boxes offer a wide variation of ways to play—making it almost like two or three courses in one. In-between rounds, you can take a horse ride on the beach, charter a deep-sea fishing trip, sharpen your tennis or croquet skills or dine in the beautiful Calibogue Club. Like the strategies on course, the recreational options at Haig Point are nearly endless.