Trio of underrated courses make golf fun in Outer Banks

The Pointe Golf Club

Tremendous Atlantic Ocean views and year-round golf on a handful of fabulous courses are just two of drawing cards of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, an almost 200-mile sliver of barrier islands.

The courses here reap the benefits of the wonderful, sandy terrain and coastal forests and are made challenging by windswept, beach-like conditions.

The Outer Banks (abbreviated OBX) are famous as the location of the first flight in a powered heavier-than-air vehicle by the Wright brothers at Kill Devil Hills near the town of Kitty Hawk in 1903, the setting for the book and movie “Nights in Rodanthe,” which played heavily on the area’s isolated beauty and the islands’ famed wild beach horses.

Here’s a look at three of Outer Banks’ best courses – Sea Scape Golf Links in Kitty Hawk, The Pointe Golf Club in Powells Point, and Duck Woods Country Club in Southern Shores.

Up and down in search of a flat lie at Sea Scape

Sea Scape Golf Links is one of the oldest courses in the Outer Banks, opening for play in 1968 after being designed by former PGA tour player and Masters champion Art Wall. The course has the feel of a traditional Scottish links layout thanks to the seaside location and landscape of windswept dunes that’s literally a 3-wood from the Atlantic and sports plenty of elevated tee boxes and greens complexes.

Doglegs in both directions create holes where the flag is not visible from the tee and make managing the course a must. There are also some long, straight holes that are lined by trees when players air out their shots on the drive.

The golf course differs from a classic, open design. Outside the opening hole, the 10th and the 11th the routing at Sea Scape moves into coastal forests that accent the terrain and provide some shelter from the ever-present winds.

The front nine here plays longer than the back, with plenty of seaside vegetation and sand throughout. The most challenging feature at Sea Scape is the constant up and down as golfers will be hard-pressed to find a flat lie.

Sea Scape Golf Links is carded at just 6,131 yards from the back tees (with an interesting 3-3-3 routing of par-3s. par-4s and par-5s on the front, and as a par-70 but it plays more lengthy because of the constant of elevation changes, which range from subtle to dramatic.

Sea Scape Golf Links

The Pointe is an OBX favorite

The Pointe Golf Club, located on the mainland just across the Wright Memorial Bridge from the islands of the Outer Banks, bills itself as “groomed for the pro but available to the public.” The course’s A-1 Bentgrass putting surfaces are among the best in the area, and its wide, plush fairways have helped it earn kudos as one of the OBX’s most fun and playable golf courses.

Designed by Russell Breeden and opened in 1995, the Pointe plays at 6.276 yards and is a par-71 but – of course – is much more difficult because of the wind (see the pattern here?).

Overlooking Currituck Sound, The Pointe was built on a turf farm and became a pioneer in golf course turf management. What amplifies a round at The Pointe is its isolation, as little or no development mar the edges of the traditional design – there are a few scattered farm buildings and even a couple of family graveyards that add to the ambiance.

The final three holes of the course are its toughest set, beginning with the 377-yard par-4 16th, which ends at a semi-island, elevated green.

The 17th plays at just 144 yards, but its large green is fronted by a pond that seems to grab shots that are not struck with true conviction. The 619-yard par 5 closer is one of the longest holes in the area and asks for a long and straight drive.

The Pointe Golf Club is appealing to golfers of all skill levels and has been voted Best of the Beach winner seven times (2014-2017, 2019, 2021 and 2022.) It’s a blast to play.

The Pointe Golf Club

Become a member for the day at Duck Woods

Duck Woods Country Club is a semi-private course that allows visitor play and is one of the most underrated facilities in the OBX. Designed by Ellis Maples, the course opened in 1969. Maples is one of the undisputed kings of North Carolina golf, second only to the famed Donald Ross, for whom Maples worked.

Maples was known to do more with less and worked primarily with the topography of the land to craft a course to fit into its surroundings. Subsequent refreshening by Ed Seay and the team of Brian Ault and Tom Clark have only added to the playability and fun factor.

Duck Woods’ Bermuda fairways are routed through beautiful woodlands, canals and natural wetlands, with holes ending at Bentgrass greens. The course plays at 6,650 yards from the back tees, making it one of the longer tracks in the OBX.

The challenge here comes right out of the chute at the 497-yard par-4 first hole, which leaves little respite. A wayward tee shot will likely catch the canal that runs along the entire right side of the hole, and trees flank the left. The approach requires clearing a branch of the canal that dissects the fairways at about 100 yards from the green.

At the end of a hearty round, players will be tested once more by the 516-yard par-5 closer, one of the architectural gems of the Outer Banks.

Maples used everything at his disposal to make a narrow and long hole with a small putting surface tucked into the left side. Bunkers line the green on the right and a pond cuts in on the front left two-thirds, wrapping around the back. A little throat opens on the right side, occasionally allowing balls to roll on, but more often they end up wet. Balls landing on the green tend to move right to left toward the water.

Duck Woods is a visually stunning and challenging course that demands shot accuracy and precision on every hole.

Duck Woods