Tim Cate: The FORE Father of Golfing the North Carolina Coast

north Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is known as North Carolina’s Golf Coast, where championship courses have been designed by such greats as Arnold Palmer, Rees Jones, Fred Couples, Dan Maples, Willard Byrd and Hale Irwin.  Each offers a wide range of settings, from marsh to maritime forests, to lakes, streams, beaches and the Intracoastal Waterway, and each is unique in its design and playability.

One designer, Tim Cate, who may be lesser-known outside of our area is worth noting. In fact, he is quite renowned along the coast for his sustainable golf course design that completely incorporates the natural terrain, providing an artful challenge for golf enthusiasts.

We like to think he’s a best-kept secret, just like our area.

Cate says this, “Unlike the South Carolina courses, this is a unique region with a bit of a roll to the land, which provides some wind break off the water and opportunities for interesting layouts. We have beautiful beaches and low-rise development, so the area has been left in a more natural state.”

In 2010, Golf Digest named a golf course in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands “Best design by an architect you’ve never heard of.” Golf course architect Tim Cate, a resident of Sunset Beach, attended West Virginia University and the University of Georgia, graduating with a degree in Landscape Architecture. He then spent eight years under the tutelage of course design greats like Willard Byrd.  According to Jamie Roderick, General Manager of The Thistle Golf Club, “Cate doesn’t just move earth. He carefully designs his courses, then supervises like a virtuoso, taking advantage of the lay of the land as it is being sculpted by the construction crew.”

For your next North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ vacation, consider one of these several award-winning, Tim Cate-designed courses…

Cape Fear National 

Cape Fear National in Leland is the newest golf course in Brunswick County. Among its prestigious awards, Cape Fear was named among the top “11 best courses you can play in NC” as named by Golfweek magazine. Expect to see ornate grasses, drive-through waste bunkers, two waterfalls and over 1,500 linear feet of bridges as you weave through 18 holes of exceptionally conditioned golf.

Cape Fear National, No. 13According to Director of Sales and Marketing, Brad Walker, “There’s really a wow factor here at Cape Fear National. Week after week, we receive rave reviews on the overall conditioning of the golf course, the surrounding natural landscape and the quality of our A1/A4 Bentgrass greens. Tim Cate’s attention to detail is impressive and he is an expert when it comes to local landscape in Coastal North Carolina.”

The “Big Cats” Courses 

Ocean Ridge Plantation in Sunset Beach offers four championship “Big Cats” golf courses – three designed by Tim Cate.  The three Tim Cate courses each has it’s own unique character and feel, but with the unifying Tim Cate signature design features incorporated into their layouts for the thrill of the hunt.

Two courses of note are Tiger’s Eye and Leopard’s Chase. Tiger’s Eye is distinguished by dramatic 60-foot elevation changes reminiscent DSC_0718_LC 4 smallof the North Carolina sand hills and a stunning combination of natural waste areas, native grasses, wildflowers, pine and oak trees and water, including Carolina bays, two waterfalls and marshland typical of a coastal environment. Leopard’s Chase offers stunning natural beauty playing along expansive natural wetlands and features dramatic elevation changes heretofore unseen along the coast.

Thistle Golf Club

The clubhouse at the venerable Thistle Golf Club in Sunset Beach is of traditional Scottish design, filled with the antiquitClubhouse-Twlght[1] smallies, original documents, trophies, ledgers and other memorabilia from the original 1815 Thistle club on Edinburgh’s revered Links of Leith. In similar Scottish tradition, architect Tim Cate provided windswept fairways, heather-covered hillsides and generous rolling Bentgrass greens, earning a 4 ½-star rating by Golf Digest.

With 120 miles of fairways and 45 miles of wide, un-crowded beaches, free from high-rise Microsoft Word - Document1development, dedicated golfers as well as families can all find their paradise. With over 30 golf courses in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, you could stay for a month and play one course each day. Perks to golfing in Brunswick Islands include more than 30 hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts and golf resorts, as well as countless seaside and inland vacation rental homes and condos for every style and budget.  If golf is your vacation focus, our local golf packagers can arrange for the perfect visit. View a video here about Brunswick Islands’ golf.

The North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ Golf Guide is the perfect tool to get your dream golf vacation started.  To order a printed copy of the Golf Guide and/or to sign up for emails click here.

Play 120 Miles of Fairways to Heaven


North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands
, one of the country’s most popular golfing destinations, is home to world-class golf courses designed by greats like Arnold Palmer, Rees Jones, Dan Maples, Willard Byrd, Tim Cate, Fred Couples and Hale Irwin, among others. Play hundreds of unforgettable holes and 120 miles of gorgeous fairways surrounded by beautiful water features, marshlands and wooded areas in a destination with 45 miles of white sandy beaches. These talented course architects truly showcase their creativity by carving out some of the most playable courses in the country, in some of the most diverse landscapes around.

The assortment of golf courses in and around the Brunswick Islands is endless. Golfers can be as choosy as they want selecting a course by yardage, handicap, course rating or type of greens to help them play their best game. The North Carolina’s Brunswick Golf Microsoft Word - Document1Guide is the perfect tool to use to get your dream golf vacation started.  To order a printed copy of the Golf Guide and/or to sign up for emails click here.

With more than 30 of the world’s finest golf courses tailored to every skill level, Brunswick Islands is the ideal golf vacation destination. Just as vacationers are attracted to the un-crowded and laid-back lifestyle of the area, golfers are drawn to the exceptionally maintained championship courses, where they can always find the perfect tee time. Additionally, many golfers are captivated by the all-season golf climate, where conditions for playing 18 or even 36 holes are perfect for year-round golfing, which creates perfect conditions for the greatest game. View a video here about Brunswick Islands golf.

Perks to golfing in Brunswick Islands include more than 30 hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts and golf resorts, as well as countless seaside and inland rental homes and condos for every style and budget. Picturesque Southern towns like Southport, Calabash, Shallotte and Leland draw visitors to one-of-a-kind restaurants, galleries, shops and more. Exploring forts, lighthouses and historic architecture, along with beaches and other outdoor activities like fishing and kayaking sets the stage for a perfect North Carolina coastal golf getaway. North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is such an apFarmstead #18 at Dogleg_PROVIDED_MRpealing destination that visitors tend to return year after year, generation after generation.

Golf: Play a different golf course each day of the month

just a chip shot across the NC/SC border from more well-known and well-traveled golf destinations, North Carolina’s Golf Coast features more than 30 highly-rated championship courses boasting all the pedigree but none of the crowds. Designed by Arnold Palmer, Rees Jones, Fred Couples, Dan Maples, Tim Cate and other golf greats, courses utilize the water, marsh, maritime forests and even the Intracoastal Waterway to create challenging play amidst magnificent coastal scenery.

All of this comes with easy availability of tee-times, great deals and packages for groups of every size. Accommodations range from inns, hotels and condos to golf resort settings.

After a tranquil visit to Brunswick Islands, you will know that the name North Carolina’s Golf Coast is well deserved! Click here for a list of the fun and challenging courses you can play in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Insider Tip: View an online guide to golfing in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands for details on every golf course in the county. Or order a printed golf guide.