Golf isn't the primary draw on the Outer Banks, or OBX as in the know folks call the 200-mile span of dune strewn barrier islands in Northeastern North Carolina that buffer a trio of Sounds (Currituck, Albermarle, and Pamlico) from the crashing waves of the Atlantic.
treacherous waters. Thousands of documented shipwrecks litter this stretch of coastline; from pirate schooners and cargo ships to German U-Boats sunk by the U.S. Navy during WWII. The mere thought of OBX's underwater cemetery gets nautical archaeologists flying half-mast. And the wreck junkies are actually outnumbered by aeronautics nerds making pilgrimages down to Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk.
But playing third fiddle to maritime misfortune and aviation glory has its benefits: speedy rounds on immaculately conditioned courses—just don't let the secret out of the bag. I like to think that ten years down the road naïve scuba divers will wonder if seafaring men used to tee up a few balls and whack them off the bow of their ships as they kick their flippers on my lost Calloways while exploring a wreck. Currents carried at least a dozen of my windswept slices miles offshore so that should help matters.
My tendency to sky approach shots with a hang time roughly equal to Orville’s halcyon twelve airborne seconds of history allow plenty of time for windy intervention. On a gusty day, negotiating the breeze on this Bob Moore design may prove a challenge, but thankfully her stunning seaside beauty will keep accuracy-challenged duffers from moaning about their dwindling ball count.
While Nags Head’s pedigree as one of the grand dames of OBX golf should earn it a spot on your playlist, I found the generous plush fairways and eager to receive greens of the immaculately conditioned and less heralded Carolina Club, a former potato field, mashed and mounded into a beautiful farmland track, to be a more satisfying treat.
Turns out Mick Jagger was wrong, wild horses CAN drag you away—from the golf course. On a break from chasing down white balls and hitting them again, I took a wild horse tour in Corolla. The first forty minutes was a pretty uneventful 4X4 ride down the beach as the Spanish Mustang mares and stallions seemed to be hiding. An uprooted large pink house on wheels being driven to higher land and a couple pushing their car that didn’t read the four wheel drive sign were the only photo ops. The guide even stopped to apologize citing the unseasonably cool weather as a reason the horses must’ve galloped inland. On the way back to the tour operators shop, tails tucked between our legs resigned to the thought that there’d be no horseplay today, a small herd appeared in the dunes and began trotting along the surf. The guide did a 180 and we were driving alongside the most free-spirited ponies I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Get out there and let them fly: Playobxgolf.com
Nearest Airport: Norfolk VA (ORF)