Brunswick Islands’ Variety of Courses Offer Pure Golf Experiences

Tiger's Eye Golf Links

Brunswick Islands’ Variety of Courses Offer Pure Golf Experiences  – by Shane Sharp

With more than 30 golf courses, limitless accommodation options and the world’s best seafood, it’s little wonder North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is dubbed the state’s “Golf Coast.” Neighboring Myrtle Beach, S.C. – the birthplace of the golf package – grabs most golf headlines. Historic Wilmington, to the north, gets the television and movie credits.

But Brunswick Islands’ panacea of coastal marshes, barrier islands and pristine beaches is a diverse, well-established golf hotbed that checks all the boxes. A decidedly different flavor than its flashier Palmetto State cousin, the pace of life is a little slower and the pace of play is a little faster in the Brunswick Islands.

If there’s an operative word that describes golf here, it’s spacious. The area’s windswept coastal layouts bring steady sea breezes into play while its expansive inland tracks are rarely hemmed in by housing developments or highways.

North Carolina-based golf course architects like Tim Cate (based in Sunset Beach) and Rick Robbins, and brand names like Arnold Palmer and Rees Jones, were given carte blanche to work their magic over natural canvases.

The result is a golf destination that keeps avid players with deep appreciations for the game coming back year-after-year.

Crow Creek golf course Brunswick Islands
Crow Creek Golf Club

Calabash and Sunset Beach

Heading north on U.S. Highway 17, golfers first come upon the fishing hamlet of Calabash (the seafood capital of the world) and Sunset Beach, the smallest of Brunswick’s barrier islands. What it lacks in girth, south Brunswick County more than makes up for in golf with 12 of the area’s 30 courses.

Just 35 minutes from Myrtle Beach International Airport, Farmstead Golf Links tees up perfectly for an arrival or getaway day round. The Willard Byrd-Dave Johnson design is known for its 767-yard, par-6 18th hole traversing state borders.

Golfers tee off in South Carolina and putt out in North Carolina. Approximately 250 yards from the back tees in the middle of the fairway is an encouraging placard reading “525 yards to go.”

A mere five-iron away is Farmstead’s sister course, Meadowlands Golf Club, also owned by the McLamb family. Opened in 1997, it’s praised for its consistently solid conditioning, straightforward design and overall value. The Cracker Barrel-style front porch wrapping around Meadowlands clubhouse is an idyllic spot for sipping on a post-round libation.

Six minutes up Hickman Road is Crow Creek Golf Club. Designed by Jack Nicklaus protégé Rick Robbins, this sporty, 7,101-yard circuit beguiles golfers with wide driving corridors, then demands precise approach shots into true-rolling bentgrass greens. Crow Creek – and six other Brunswick Islands courses – were recently ranked among the state’s top 100 by the North Carolina Golf Panel.

The 27-hole Brunswick Plantation Resort and Golf – a Byrd-Clyde Johnston collaboration – is also a crowd pleaser with punching power. For those on a budget or looking for an affordable warm-up round, head to Carolina Shores Golf and Country Club conveniently located off U.S. Highway 17 just over the border.

If there’s a common thread to this southern gateway to the Brunswick Islands, it is “bang for the buck.” Rates at Farmstead, Meadowlands and Crow Creek range from $50 in the shoulder season (August to mid-September) to just under $100 in peak season (mid-September to mid-November). Brunswick Plantation and Carolina Shores offer rates from $30 to $75.

For golfers who appreciate local history, no swing through Sunset Beach is complete without a round at Oyster Bay Golf Links. The county’s first championship-caliber course, architect Dan Maples’ routing takes full advantage of the property’s setting along the Calabash River. Water is in play on 15 of 18 holes, including two island greens.

The Brunswick Islands caught the multi-course wave that rolled through Myrtle Beach in the ’90s and early 2000s. Its southern tier serves a handful properties for have-clubs-will-travel types who prefer 36-holes a day, a beer and a bed.

The Pearl Golf Links is home to the Pearl East and Pearl West courses, both Maples designs. The twin-bill is the centerpiece of stunning, 900-acre swath of marshland along the Calabash River. Both layouts are postcard ready. West is more open off the tee, boasts a links-style feel and flaunts four closing holes which seem to melt right into the river. It recently re-opened with new MiniVerde Bermuda grass greens, also in play on Pearl East.

A bit farther north, Sea Trail Golf Club levels up with 54 holes, featuring [Rees] Jones, Byrd and Maples courses. New ownership is investing heavily in the triumvirate, including new cart paths, bunkers and Champion Bermuda greens on the Byrd and Jones layouts.

The three design styles are distinctively different. Jones presents wide fairways bordered by the “Open Doctor’s” trademark mounding; Byrd’s constricting tree lines and doglegs favor shot makers; and Maples exudes Lowcountry, replete with ancient live oaks, elaborate landscaping and five holes along the Calabash River. Maples is the lone holdout with A1/A4 blended bentgrass greens.

Keeping with the multi-course theme, The Thistle’s three nines – Stewart, MacKay and Cameron – raised the bar around the Brunswick Islands upon opening in 1999. Cate crafted all 27 holes, and many consider The Thistle to be his seminal work. The overall design is bold – and at times modern – yet still manages to pay homage to the original Thistle Golf Club in Leith, Scotland.

Each nine is has its own character; however, open green fronts, mounded fairways and ever-present wind off the Atlantic create a links aesthetic throughout all 27 holes. Thistle’s 16,000-square-foot clubhouse is a must-see with 200-year-old memorabilia from the original club and a tempting list of single-malt scotch to sample.

Twenty-seven holes are also the modus operandi at Sandpiper Bay Golf and Country Club in Sunset Beach. Course enhancements in 2015 and 2018 returned the three Maples-designed nines to form. Forty acres of lakes keep golfers honest and engaged as they navigate the Sand, Piper and Bay nines.

Rivers Edge golf course Brunswick Islands
Rivers Edge Golf Club

Ocean Isle Beach, Shallotte and Holden Beach

Ocean Isle Beach is a favorite with families, beachgoers and surfers. In golf circles, it has long been synonymous with The Big Cats of Ocean Ridge Plantation. This formidable foursome features Leopard’s Chase, Tiger’s Eye, Panther’s Run and Lion’s Paw. The sheer quality and quantity of golf at Ocean Ridge has attracted golfers and large golf groups for 28 years.

Leopard’s Chase opened in 2007 to critical acclaim and is the newest to the litter. This Cate design is characterized by dense, L-93 bentgrass greens, man-made lakes, native areas and grasses all bound together by a network of winding, wooden bridges. It’s par-4 18th hole is one of Brunswick County’s best finishers with an elevated green guarded by a waterfall cascading down a wall of coquina boulders.

It was Tiger’s Eye, though, that cemented Ocean Ridge Plantation’s place on the Brunswick Islands golf map when it opened in 2000. Cate’s early piece-de-resistance is a visual cornucopia of locally harvested coquina boulders, waste areas and native grasses. Golfers tend to remember par 3s, and Tiger’s Eye’s collection of one-shot holes rival any course in the region if not the state.

Panther’s Run (Cate’s first solo design) and Lion’s Paw round out the lineup.  The former installed new TifEagle Bermuda greens in 2018 for the same superior, heat-tolerant putting surfaces as Tiger’s Eye. Golfers would be wise not to discount the older cats at Ocean Ridge. Both layouts hold their own as brawny Lion’s Paw stretches to just over 7,000 yards with a daunting 132 slope.

Shallotte is Brunswick County’s center point, making it ideal to access courses to the north and south. It is also home to one of the region’s premier 18-hole facilities, Rivers Edge. The Arnold Palmer-designed layout opened in 2000 amid the county’s (and country’s) golf boom. The King was handed a stunner of a setting along the Shallotte River with seven holes playing along its banks.

In 2015, Rivers Edge transitioned to Sunday Ultra-Dwarf Bermuda grass greens, removed trees that were blocking sunlight, renovated bunkers and improved drainage. Enhancements withstanding, the course’s calling cards have always been a pair of par 5s, the 570-yard 9th and 490-yard 17th.

The river marsh runs along the entire left side of No. 9 and juts in again at the end of the fairway to keep longer hitters honest. The razor-thin green guards against going for it in two and forces a layup to a narrow landing area. The short approach shot is still a knee-knocker; the putting surface is a mere 15-yards across.

The 17th features a split fairway that makes it reachable in two from the right side, but from the left fairway, it is a true, three-shot par 5. The river is omnipresent on the right and a strip of marsh guards one of the most beautiful green complexes in the county flanked by two live oaks. Rivers Edge’s waterfront clubhouse is an awesome spot to unwind and watch other players navigate the 9th and 18th holes.

A couple of hidden gems round out the mid-county rotation. Brick Landing Plantation Golf Club is a Maples renovation perched on the Intracoastal Waterway in Ocean Isle Beach. Lockwood Folly in Holden Beach is home to one of Brunswick’s most photographed holes, the par-5, 500-yard 18th with views extending out to the ocean. The Byrd design also sports a new clubhouse and Sunday Bermuda grass greens.

Carolina National Golf Course in Brunswick Islands
Carolina National Golf Club

Inland Gems

As Brunswick County turns north toward Wilmington, U.S. Highway 17 meanders through the inland towns of Supply, Bolivia and Winnabow. Enter Carolina National, a 27-hole Fred Couples-Gene Bates design only four miles off 17 in Bolivia.

The three nines – Egret, Heron and Ibis – flow seamlessly together, much like “Boom Boom’s” silky swing. The Lockwood Folly River forms the backdrop and six holes play along it. The longstanding Carolina National special is the “Freddie” that packages 18 or 27 holes, lunch and two beers.

Golfers looking to pick up a few more rounds in the inland region have a couple options. The Lakes Country Club in Boiling Spring Lake advertises the “simplest daily guest rates” in North Carolina. With year-round fees from $21 to $33, who are we to argue? At 6,200-yards with slope of 108, Olde Fort Golf Club helps jet- or car-lagged travelers ease into their Brunswick County golf experiences.

Bald Head Island, Oak Island and Caswell Beach

There is no such thing as a trip out to Bald Head Island Club to play golf; it is an experience. First, there is getting there, accomplished via a 20-minute ferry ride from Southport. Second, there is access that’s limited to members and guests in the peak season (Memorial Day to Labor Day). Third, there is leaving which is nearly impossible to talk oneself into.

The classic George Cobb design was completely overhauled by Cate in 2012, and for all intents and purposes, is a new golf course. Cate worked off Cobb’s original drawings, but added his own touches, including multi-tiered tees, expanded and raised green complexes, and landscaped dunes. The par-3 16th showcases Cate’s full range with new tees, green location, and a coastal dune and bridge over an enlarged three-acre lagoon.

In the shoulder and off-seasons, Bald Head Island Club makes a limited number of tee times available via local golf-package providers. In season, guests rent homes which carry a “full” or “lifestyle” membership to snare a tee time. Ask anyone who has played “BHIC” and he or she will say it is more than worth the extra effort.

Getting “golf ready” for BHIC is made easy at two venues on neighboring Oak Island and Caswell Beach. The storied Oak Island Golf Club is a circa 1962 Cobb design that puts the “hidden” in hidden gem with an oceanfront location on the far eastern side of the island. Oak Island Par 3 at South Harbour is a lovely little venue where junior golfers play free with two paying adults.

Cape Fear National Golf Course
Cape Fear National Golf Course

Leland

Leland has emerged as a sought-after relocation hotspot for families and retirees looking for small-town, North Carolina living. Its enviable location at the confluence of the Brunswick and Cape Fear rivers makes it perfect for water sports and related activities. Just minutes from downtown Wilmington and the airport, Leland is uber-convenient for golfers entering the Brunswick Islands from the north.

Anchoring Leland’s golf offerings are Compass Pointe and Cape Fear National, designed by Robbins and Cate, respectively. Cape Fear National is ranked among the state’s best courses by the North Carolina Golf Panel, Golfweek and GOLF Magazine. The 7,217-yard layout at Brunswick Forest is Cate at the top of his game: challenging but fair, visually stunning and memorable from first tee to 18th green.

Compass Pointe is one of the state’s newest courses, having opened in 2016, and is the centerpiece of a vibrant masterplanned community just 10 minutes from Wilmington. A former Nicklaus Design protégé, Robbins crafted Compass Pointe to play at a championship level from the tips while appealing to the development’s swath of retirees.

Magnolia Greens is Compass Pointe’s sister course featuring 27 holes designed by Tom Jackson. The three nines conjure images of the south’s most beautiful flowering trees and bushes: Azalea, Camilla and Magnolia. The Camilla-Azalea combo is the “championship” layout. Since its 1998 unveil, Magnolia Greens has been recognized as one of the region’s top values with rates under $50.

Stay and Play

Part of the fun in planning a golf trip to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is researching and figuring out where to stay. The region is home to vacation rental homes, villas and condos, bed and breakfasts, and traditional hotels and motels. Multi-course venues like Sea Trail Golf Club and Brunswick Plantation offer on-site villas for stay-and-play packages. From foursomes to 40-player tournaments, there are options for any size group.

Getting There

Once immersed in Brunswick County’s peaceful fairways, beaches, charming fishing villages and bucolic inland burgs, it’s easy to forget how accessible it is. The North Carolina population hubs of Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill (The Triangle) and Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem (The Triad) are all under 3-1/2 hours away. The Washington, D.C. metro area is six hours, and Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are a day’s drive.

Golfers who prefer to fly can choose from Myrtle Beach or Wilmington International airports, depending on whether they plan to stay in the southern or northern portion of the county. Myrtle Beach has non-stop flights from a remarkable 50 cities via service from major carriers plus discount airlines like Porter, Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit and Sun Country. Wilmington connects to the traditional major East Coast and Midwestern hubs with legacy carriers like Delta, United and American.

Shane Sharp is a golf writer based in Greenville, S.C. A contributing editor with GOLF Magazine and former managing editor at TravelGolf.com, he spent a decade covering golf along the Grand Strand.

Golfweek Names Three Brunswick Islands Courses as Best of the Best

Leopard's Chase Golf Course

Golfweek Names Three Brunswick Islands Courses as Best of the Best

by Lisa Allen

Just over the South-North Carolina line, right at the coast, is a string of islands resplendent with woods, wildlife and beaches.

They’re all part of NC’s Brunswick Islands, which stretches from Calabash to Wilmington, North Carolina.

The region features more than 30 golf courses, beaches, waterside restaurants and excellent shopping. For accommodations, the choices – and price points – are endless. Professional trip planners can tailor a combination of accommodations, golf and dining that caters to any golfer’s wishes.

The golf in Brunswick County features an array of courses, each of them manicured and unique and staffed by friendly crews that make you feel right at home.

Just recently, Golfweek cited three area courses as being the best courses you can play in North Carolina.  Each of the acclaimed courses was masterfully crafted or recrafted by golf designer Tim Cate: Leopard’s Chase (ranked 11th of 15), Cape Fear National (15th) and Bald Head Island Club (9th).

Cate designed the first two from scratch and transformed the 1974 George Cobb-designed Bald Head Island into a modern course. Today, each course offers brilliantly drawn courses that engage each level of player differently. Stand at the tips and you’ll see a hole that demands a perfectly executed drive, often threaded between trees that come into play only from those tees, over expanses of marsh areas or flirting with sand on one side and water on the other. For more casual golfers, you’ll find challenges that meet that level of play. Regardless, you have to think your way around a Cate course.

Leopard’s Chase

Leopard's Chase Golf Course
Leopard’s Chase

The stunning course gives you 18 excellent golf holes. The opening hole keeps water along the left side, but it’s fairly remote. The trick is the approach shot, which has to clear a bunker. The second hole is a nice little warm-up par 3 in which you can enjoy the view. You won’t forget the par-5 third hole, a dogleg right that bends around a hole-length waste bunker backed up by water. The approach to the offset green messes with your eye with a large bunker complex left of the green. You just have to ignore it.

The fourth is another beauty, a par 3. The fifth hole demands all of your concentration, with water left and sand left. Oh, don’t forget your distance because the fairway ends 90 yards from the green. The sixth, a par 4, gets your hopes up at the tee that this one will be a cake walk. Nope, the green is tucked behind a formidable bunker complex.

The 11th hole is the one you’ll talk about over beers afterward. It’s a par five with distinct landing areas for your drive, your second shot, then your approach. Marshland lies in wait in between. An exceptional hole.

The 12th mixes it up with grass bunkers by the green, giving your sand wedge a rest. The 14th par 5 is another great hole that requires a plan before you pull your first club.

One could gush about every single hole. It’s easy to see why this met Golfweek’s criteria of courses you’ll want to play.

Cape Fear National

Cape Fear National Golf Course
Cape Fear National

There are so many stunning holes at Cape Fear National, no one signature hole has emerged. Cate’s favorite is 13, a par 4 with waste bunkers cutting off the green from the fairway, but he puts another five holes in contention as the best. Others have weighed in with others.

The greens and bunkers have just been renovated, ensuring the best play possible.

This course is remarkable because of the natural beauty all around, as well as Cate’s ability to harness natural features and contours to build an enduring work of art. In short, this course is on land that provided the foundation for a gorgeous course that perfectly aligned with Cate’s style.

Features of note are the boulders strewn throughout the course, an added touch that gives the course added character. There is a waterfall left of the 18th green, for one last style point to send you home.

“Those all came from a quarry in Wilmington,” Cate said. “They’re fossilized pluff mud that are 60 feet underground.”

Cate also adores his waste bunkers, which keeps players striving for well-executed shots. It’s more fun to see your ball plopped into sand and figure out how to proceed than to hack through woods, searching in vain. On doglegs, he also tempts you with risk and reward. Can I hit it that far or should I aim for a safer shot?

“I’ve always tried to make the course fun and interesting for all levels of golfers,” Cate said. “I provide different views from the different tees.”

Early in his solo career, before he was well-known, Cate would sit in the clubhouse and eavesdrop on golfers coming in from their rounds. “I was so proud when they said they loved the course and couldn’t wait to play it again,” Cate said. “Nothing about my career was about the money or about me. It was all about the golfer and giving them a course they would enjoy, no matter what their ability.”

Bald Head Island Club

Bald Head Island Club golf course
Bald Head Island Club

George Cobb built a classic design in 1974 and Cate enhanced it and put his stamp on it. Cate turned 35 acres of rough into waste bunkers featuring native grasses. It’s unmistakably a Cate course now.

“The most important part of designing a course is the site analysis,” Cate said. He walks every foot of the property, noting terrain, contours, trees, and vegetation. He notes what characteristics he wants to highlight in his design. Once he understands what is where, he plots the route.

“The routing plan is the most important step. Drawing the center line of every hole is what makes the course.”

“Bald Head Island is one in a million,” he said. “The history that’s baked into that island is amazing. You can see it all around the course. There aren’t any cars and wildlife is all over the place. Bald Head is special.”

Drink in these great courses. It’s easy to do. Just call a trip planner and he and she will craft a perfect golf holiday for you. You’ll be surprised at the level of golf and hospitality that awaits.

Lisa Allen, a former newspaper editor, lives in Beaufort, S.C., and writes for several travel and lifestyle publications.  She plays golf whenever she can.

Five Reasons to Visit North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands this Fall

Holden Beach in September

Just because summer is coming to an end doesn’t mean your beach trips have to! Fall is one of the best times of the year to visit North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. With six expansive beaches on five islands, mild temperatures, countless fun events and much more, the Brunswick Islands are the place to be this autumn!

Check out these five reasons why you should make the Brunswick Islands your next fall getaway:

1. Watch the sunrise and sunset over the ocean

Sunrises and sunsets are a staple of any beach vacation, but a fall getaway to the Brunswick Islands means being able to witness the sunrise and sunset over the Atlantic Ocean without ever moving your beach chair! This is due to the fact that the islands run east to west with uniquely south facing beaches. So from the late fall to early spring you are able to see the sun rise and set directly over the ocean. There is no wonder why this incredible phenomena has been called one of the “10 Incredible Phenomena You Have to See in Fall” by Weather.com.

Sunset over the Atlantic Ocean on Ocean Isle Beach

2. Enjoy events for every member of the family

From the Southport Wooden Boat Show to the North Carolina Festival by the Sea to the US Open King Mackerel Tournament to the 39th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival, the Brunswick Islands are in no short supply of fun, family-friendly events to attend this fall! Whether you are looking for a place to munch down, get your groove on or shop till you drop, NC’s Brunswick Islands has an event for you. Check out www.ncbrunswick.com/events for a complete list of events happening in the Brunswick Islands this fall.

Southport Wooden Boat Show

3. Have the beaches seemingly to yourself

Fall temperatures in the Brunswick Islands stay in the 70s through October and the upper 60s in November. The area’s islands, waterways, and marshes provide the perfect scenic backdrop and climate for going on a kayaking or paddleboarding adventure, grabbing a bite to eat at one of many waterfront restaurants, hitting the fairways on one of more than 30 golf courses, casting a line and reeling in that day’s catch or just sitting and relaxing on the beach. You’ll also find that with schools back in session, you’ll have our already-spacious and uncrowded beaches even more to yourself!

Fall beach getaway

4. Bring your four-legged companions

Treat your furry friends to their own beach vacation in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! The off season is one of the best times of the year to bring your dog to the beach. Pet rules and regulations vary from beach to beach, but leashed dogs are allowed on Brunswick Islands beaches all day in the fall. And if you want to give your dog some off-leash time, head to Caswell BeachOak Island or Bald Head Island where your best buddies can have some fetching fun! Just be sure to check out www.ncbrunswick.com/activity/pets-on-the-beach for the exact times you can let your dog off-leash. From rolling in the sand to splashing in the waves, your puppy pals will love their beach getaway!

Pet Friendly beach

5. Relax and rejuvenate

After getting the kids back to school and before the hustle and bustle of the holidays begin, take a well deserved, relaxing beach getaway to the Brunswick Islands! Take a scenic walk on Bird Island out to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox, where hopeful travelers venture to divulge their thoughts and feelings into the journals tucked away inside this landmark. After you cleanse your spirit, rejuvenate your body at one of the many day spas found in the Brunswick Islands. And there is certainly no better way to relax and rejuvenate then by spending time on one of the calming beaches of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

fall

Summer isn’t the only time of year to take a beach getaway! North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is the year round vacation destination fit for the whole family. For more information on the Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

NC’s Brunswick Islands Ranks as Top Destination for Group Golf Getaways

Leopard's Chase Golf Course

With 567 holes on more than 30 scenic coastal courses, the value and variety awaiting golf groups are just a couple of the reasons that North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is consistently rated as one of the top destinations for group golf.

Also known as North Carolina’s Golf Coast, this premier coastal destination has earned its reputation by offering day after day of play on award-wining, championship courses designed by the best names in golf. Palmer, Byrd, Maples, Jones, Cate and Couples designs are all here offering world-class golf and delightfully uncrowded play compared to other golf destinations. The area also offers a wonderful collection of restaurants and easy access to miles of beaches, oceans and waterways for off-the-course activities.

For the perfect group golf vacation, the Brunswick Islands not only delivers the greens (and fairways), the area also has a host of experts who make planning your group golf experience a breeze. Whether for an intimate group of eight or a larger gathering of 100 or more, the area’s extensive lodging options, from course-side condominiums to island inns to beach vacation homes, are perfectly suited to golf groups of all sizes.

Groups like Jacob’s Raiders, who’ve been coming to NC’s Brunswick Islands for golf vacations for 25 years, are now into the next generation as sons play alongside fathers. At The Winds Resort Beach Club on Ocean Isle Beach, they enjoy spacious, cottage-style accommodations and an elaborate set up with their own customized 19th hole, a hospitality suite complete with a logo’d flag, bar, trophy display and a spirited awards ceremony to conclude the trip. The Winds Director of Golf and Corporate Sales, Beth Turner arranges everything in advance including scheduling rounds of golf on the courses of their choice, all accommodation arrangements and on and off-site catering for the group of 48, who stays for four nights.

“Our specialty is golf groups from 12 – 60 people,” says Turner. The Winds group golf experience is custom tailored for each group to include accommodations, golf, awards ceremonies and on and off-site catering as desired. The variety of golf and accommodation options are very popular during spring and fall drawing golf groups from Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York, as well as many from within North Carolina. The Winds offers packages with dozens of area courses, including Rivers Edge Golf Club, Ocean Ridge Plantation’s four “Big Cats” courses, Oyster Bay Golf Links, Sandpiper Bay Golf & Country Club and Sea Trail Resort.

“We’ve also seen an increase in the number of women’s golf groups,” Turner mentioned. “Our women’s golf groups take full advantage of everything NC’s Brunswick Islands offers both on and off the course, adding shopping, a trip to the beach or spa, and dining to their itinerary to round out their golf getaways.”

Ocean Ridge Plantation’s Bill Long credits the area’s popularity to quieter, slower paced courses that are just as good, if not better than, some of the crowded areas nearby. “This is a very unique market for golf,” says Long. “To have this many high-caliber courses literally within a 5-10 minute drive in such great condition brings our golf groups from Ohio, Pennsylvania and up and down the east coast back every spring and fall.”

Brunswick Plantation Golf

Another popular home-base for golf groups is Brunswick Plantation Resort & Golf in Calabash. The newly renovated one and two-bedroom condominiums are perfect for a golf getaway. The resort’s recently opened restaurant and sports bar, Hickory Shaft Bistro, offers indoor and outdoor dining venues and great food and libations amidst an impressive collection of historical golf memorabilia.

“Groups here stay for long weekends, or three to four days, and pack in as much golf as they can,” says Scott Thrailkill, Brunswick Plantation’s Sales and Marketing Director. Brunswick Plantation is perfect for the serious golfer offering 27 holes of play on site, with nearby courses such as the Thistle Golf Club, The Pearl Golf Links, Farmstead Golf Links, Meadowlands Golf Club and Crow Creek Golf Club, and dozens of others within an easy drive.

Elaine Clemmons, Golf Director with Sloane Realty Vacations has decades of experience pairing groups with the perfect courses and accommodations for a great group golf getaway on Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach.

“We’ve got several groups who have been coming here for 20 years,” says Clemmons, who credits the area’s resort and laid-back feel along with the high caliber and variety of courses for bringing the groups back year after year.

Rivers Edge golf course Brunswick Islands

With decades of experience in arranging golf trips, Clemmons shares her expert tips below:

Planning the Ultimate Group Golf Getaway at NC’s Brunswick Islands – 10 Tips

  1. Select and book your accommodations first to ensure that you get your preferred travel dates.
  2. Book courses and tee-times as soon as dates are confirmed.
  3. Work with lodging partners to coordinate catered meals and dinners in advance; many lodging and vacation rental companies work with several caterers and are happy to assist in creating a memorable event.
  4. Plan a mix of on-site meals and dinner events at area restaurants to take in a taste of the coast and see a bit of the area.
  5. Designate one group member to be in charge of scoring and awards.
  6. Reserve an extra condominium for the hospitality suite and stock with water, beverages, snacks, etc.
  7. Don’t forget gift baskets and awards.
  8. Most importantly, get a great golf group name! Monikers like Mulligan’s Island, Weapons of Grass Destruction or Complete and Putter Madness, set the tone for a great getaway!
  9. Schedule in some time to explore the area – a day at the beach, a fishing charter, ATV tour, and more are available in NC’s Brunswick Islands.
  10. Leave planning to the experts so you can concentrate on having fun and focusing on the birdies!

Whether your group is driving or flying, North Carolina’s Brunswick Island’s central east coast location makes it a convenient golf destination for people traveling from across the United States. The area is accessible from both the Wilmington International Airport and the Myrtle Beach International Airport.

For information on these and other Brunswick Islands golf package providers, visit www.ncbrunswick.com/Golf_Packages or download a copy of the Brunswick Islands Golf Guide for all the information you need to plan your next golf getaway!

Top Reasons to Get Up Early in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

early

It can be tempting to hit the snooze button while on vacation, but with plenty of morning activities and scrumptious breakfast dishes to enjoy, early wake up calls have never been more satisfying in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! From appreciating the soothing sounds of the ocean to perusing the local outdoor markets to sampling delicious breakfast treats, the Brunswick Islands offers several opportunities to make the most out of your mornings.

For one-of-a kind finds, check out our list below for some amazing morning activities and dishes to inspire visitors to rise and shine:

Sunrise on the Beach

The sunset gets its fair share of hype, but choosing to wake up at daybreak is when you find some of the most peaceful sights in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. With 45 miles of beaches, there are plenty of opportunities to sit back and relax while you catch the sunrise. Start your morning off right by taking a scenic beach walk and appreciating the beautiful sunrise in the Brunswick Islands.

Blueberry Pancakes at The Purple Onion Café

Satisfy your sweet tooth with a stack of oversized, hot-off-the griddle pancakes at The Purple Onion Café in Shallotte. The Purple Onion has been a community favorite since 2004, serving visitors and locals breakfast and lunch. Stop in for traditional breakfast items along with blueberry pancakes. These fluffy blueberry pancakes are packed with tart blueberries that are just calling your name!

Fried Chicken and Waffles at Taylor Cuisine and Catering

The historic town of Southport boasts gorgeous scenery, rich heritage and a wide array of culinary options. Taylor Cuisine and Catering has been a Southport staple for 14 years and counting, offering a variety of unique omelets, sweet and savory waffles and much more. Try a southern staple by ordering their impeccable homemade waffles served with crispy fried chicken. It’s sure to leave your taste buds craving more! Taylor Cuisine and Catering invites guests to revel in their timeless, southern breakfasts that resemble Grandma’s old-fashioned home-cooked recipes.

Outdoor Markets

Get a head start on your day and discover the unique treasures featured at any of the Outdoor Markets located in the Brunswick Islands. The Outdoor Markets take place in Southport, Ocean Isle Beach, Sunset Beach, Oak Island and Shallotte. They feature a large variety of fresh baked goods, local produce, handcrafted art and jewelry and much more. Show up ready to shop till you drop and discover all the handcrafted goodies and yummy treats around the Brunswick Islands. The Outdoor Markets are open on different days of the week at various times, so be sure to visit www.ncbrunswick.com/events for additional information.

Sunrise Omelet at Sunrise Pancake House

Nationally known for its seafood, Calabash is also home to one of the best ways to start your day. Boasting some of the tastiest breakfast creations in town, start your day at the Sunrise Pancake House. This family owned spot offers visitors and locals a variety of delicious breakfast and lunch items, including a tasty Sunrise Omelet that consists of ham, potatoes, onions and cheese topped with diced tomatoes.

Sunday Brunch at Shagger Jacks

No Sunday is complete without brunch, and Shagger Jacks in Oak Island is a great place to enjoy a hearty meal with family and friends. Guests can enjoy all the unique offerings like the Hippy Chick Granola, made from a local conveyor, and brunch favorites including the Island Spiced French Toast. This dish invites guests to enjoy spiced rustic white bread topped with coconut rum infused syrup, fried plantains and bacon. Need we say more!

Seashells by the Seashore

Enjoy a peaceful beach walk in the morning as you search for a loads of beautiful seashells. Make your way to the shores early in the morning for first pick of a great variety of shells strewn across the beach. But before you take home your treasures, make sure that there are no living creatures occupying the shell! Some examples of area treasures waiting to be discovered are Angel Wings, Olives, True Tulips, Sand Dollars and Scallops.

scallop shells

Eggs Charleston at the Backstreet Café

Nestled on the southern tip of the Brunswick Islands lies Sunset Beach, home of the Backstreet Café. Visitors can settle in and savor the “Eggs Charleston,” an elevated take on Eggs Benedict. For this dish, Backstreet Café replaces Canadian bacon with authentic crab cakes drizzled in hollandaise sauce, topped with perfectly poached eggs and served over an English muffin. A choice of ground grits, fresh fruit or crispy hash browns completes this breakfast masterpiece.

Classic Combos at Mainstreet Grill

Are you more of a classic breakfast lover? If so, the classic combos at Mainstreet Grill are a must have for your taste buds! Located just minutes from the beach in Holden Beach, the Mainstreet Grill offers locals and visitors a causal dining experience with fresh and local food from farmers and fishermen in the area. Be sure to stop in and try any of the classic combos, served with eggs, toast or a biscuit, your choice of bacon, sausage links or sausage patty and either hash browns, home fries or grits. You also have the option to add buttermilk pancakes.

Avocado Smash at Drift

Millennials may be behind the avocado craze, but with all the health benefits you get from the fruit, there’s no wonder avocado dishes are a crowd favorite! Spoil your taste buds and get your caffeine fix at Drift in Ocean Isle Beach. For an unforgettable breakfast with a healthy twist, try the Matcha Latte and the Avocado Smash. Ripe smashed avocados are served on organic 21-grain toast and topped with crunchy pumpkin seeds, an almond peppercorn blend and extra virgin olive oil. This can’t miss treat is a must for early risers. Drift offers guests unique coffees, fresh fruits and handmade pastries served in a relaxed and friendly environment.

early

Now that you have enjoyed the most important meal of the day, spend the rest of your time adventuring around the six barrier islands, 45 miles of beautiful beaches and the quaint coastal towns. Didn’t see your favorite breakfast dish? Check out all the delicious culinary options and waterfront dining experiences in North Carolina’s Brunswick islands! For more information on activities and dishes to experience on your next vacation to the Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.