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From Nags Head to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina's island golf courses test your game

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

Bald Head Island Country Club, Nags Head Golf Links and Currituck Golf Club are just a few of the excellent choices for island golf in North Carolina.

Bald Head Island Country Club
Bald Head Island C.C. is a half-hour ferry ride to North Carolina's southernmost cape island.
Bald Head Island Country ClubCurrituck Golf ClubSea Scape Golf LinksNags Head Golf Links - hole 4

North Carolina has the Appalachian Mountains and the Piedmont Plateau, but if it's island golf you're looking for, it has more than its share of that as well.

The golf-saturated Grand Strand, most of which is located in South Carolina, reaches up into the southern part of its northern neighbor, which is where the first of our recommended island golf courses is located:

Bald Head Island Country Club in Southport, N.C.

You don't just stumble onto Bald Head Island as you cruise down the Grand Strand. You have to want to get there.

It's a half-hour ferry ride from the mainland to North Carolina's southernmost cape island.

There don't seem to be many complaints from golfers who make the trek and dole out the money for the ferry. The resort on the island, which rests at the confluence of the Cape Fear River and Atlantic Ocean, boasts a George Cobb-designed course, 6,855 yards from the back tees, that plays through thick stands of live oaks, dense patches of coastal vegetation, marshes and lagoons.

With few homes around to mar the primitive views - including no cart paths, no parallel fairways and no fairway bunkers - you'll probably see more alligators, foxes, turtles and ospreys than golfers.

The wind howling off the Atlantic and a 139 slope rating make this a challenging course.

Bald Head Island Country Club is a member-owned facility, and the service is first-class. Tip: rates are actually lower here in the Grand Strand's peak seasons of spring and fall.

Nags Head Golf Links in Nags Head, N.C.

One of the most spectacular formations along the East Coast are the Outer Banks, 130 miles of skinny barrier islands. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is about 70 miles of relatively unspoiled beaches from Whalebone Junction in South Nags Head through Hatteras and Ocracoke islands in the south. Fierce tides and wild currents and winds are constantly changing the shape of the seascape. Blackbeard anchored at Ocracoke.

Nags Head Golf Links is a good bet here; with its coastal winds and rugged shoreline, it resembles the links courses in Scotland.

Bob Moore designed a course that Golf Digest called "the longest 6,126 yards you'll ever play." The holes that play along the Roanoke Sound are among the most beautiful you'll see in this part of the country. Most tees and greens are separated by rolling dunes and wild sea grass.

Water comes into play on all but four holes.

Currituck Golf Club in Corolla, N.C.

Currituck Golf Club is 250 miles from Wilmington on the northernmost reaches of the Outer Banks.

It's a golf course community, with five separate residential communities, on a narrow sliver of land just three and a half miles wide with tennis courts, bike paths, basketball and volleyball courts, all of which are connected by a trolley system.

The 6,885-yard course was designed by Rees Jones, and sits on 600 acres of dunes, wetlands, maritime forests and sound seascapes.

There is, not surprisingly, plenty of water on the course, most of it on the front nine. Carrituck has won more than its share of recognition from national golf magazines, earning four and a half stars from Golf Digest.

Duck Woods Country Club in Southern Shores, N.C.

Duck Woods Country Club is a semi-private course designed by Ellis Maples, with medium-sized, sloping bentgrass greens and water on 14 holes.

Opened in 1969, the course sports a variety of wildlife, including deer, geese, raccoons and rabbits.

A traditional layout with tree-lined fairways, Duck Woods is a 6,589 yard course with a slope rating of 132 from the back tees. This is where you might want to consider playing when the wind really kicks up, since it's more protected than other Outer Banks courses.

The golf course starts and ends with par 5s.

Sea Scape Golf Links in Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Sea Scape Golf Links is a links-style layout with water views from nearly every hole. Designed by Art Wall, this is a short, 6,052-yard course that cuts through a maritime forest, with bentgrass greens and wide fairways.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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Dates: February 18, 2018 - September 30, 2018
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