OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA — It should come as no great surprise that The Carolina Club and The Pointe Golf Club are two of the most immaculately manicured and impeccably conditioned golf courses you will find on the East Coast. After all, the sister layouts on the Currituck mainland of North Carolina’s fabled Outer Banks are owned and operated by a former scratch golfer who also runs one of the region’s major turf grass companies, and both courses were built on what had previously been fertile farm land.
But the Outer Banks have always been best known for its relaxingly wide and sandy beaches, mild year-round temperatures and numerous historical attractions. For many of its millions of visitors in years past, golf around the Outer Banks has been an afterthought. But on the beach and the mainland, guests and year-round residents alike are starting to discover fun, affordable, quality golf courses like The Carolina Club and The Pointe Golf Club, and in turn are helping transform the Outer Banks into a golfing mini-Mecca paradise.
“We think the Outer Banks has some of the best maintained courses compared to our competition in other geographic areas,” says Keith Hall, the owner and general manager of The Pointe Golf Club and The Carolina Club who also runs a family business called United Turf. “All of the courses are well conditioned and well groomed. We pride ourselves on the condition of the greens and tees. In general, all the courses have stepped up their quality of maintenance and we feel we can compete with the best.”
When The Pointe GC opened in 1995 on the site of a former sod field — armed with his expansive knowledge of turf grass — Hall selected a then-brand-new hybrid strain called A-1 bentgrass for his course’s green complexes because he wanted to offer golfers a higher quality of putting surface than anything else available at the time — and Hall continues to closely monitor course conditions even today.
Located about three miles from the Wright Memorial Bridge on US 158 in Powells Point up on the mainland, The Pointe GC was designed by the prolific Carolinas-based golf course architect Russell Breeden who, along with his more well-known colleague, George Cobb, learned the profession working as an assistant to a reputable old Scottish-born Virginian named Fred Findlay.
Like his mentor, Breeden was a hands-on golf course architect who is credited with creating nearly 80 courses mostly around the Southeast. The Pointe head golf professional Doug Kinser remembers watching Breeden at work on the bulldozer himself, shaping the course.
The golf course that Breeden eventually created at The Pointe offers a traditional, even a wee bit Scottish feel particularly considering there are very few trees on site and Breeden moved a relatively small amount of dirt. The putting surfaces at The Pointe are generally small in size and open to run-up shots in most cases, with the major defenses against low scores coming in the form of the ever-present Outer Banks wind and the greens — although golfers may also find themselves awe-struck by the scenic views of the Currituck Sound featured on many of the holes.
The Pointe also features one of the area’s finest practice facilities, which includes a 30,000-square-foot, natural turf practice tee that can accommodate large groups and outings, and a short game area that includes a large chipping green and practice bunker to sharpen your scoring skills. Meanwhile, The Pointe’s on-site restaurant, Keefer’s Grille, is a popular local dining establishment.
Three years after successfully opening The Pointe Golf Club, Hall and Breeden teamed up again, also on the mainland, about 15 minutes away in Grandy, to transform a former potato farm into the longest and arguably most popular layout in town called The Carolina Club. The par-72 course measures about 7,000 yards from the back tees, and the course is exposed to the winds, adding to the challenge of course management and shot making on nearly every hole. Kinser calls The Carolina Club “a hidden treasure” because of its world-class feel and its location in Currituck County means it is often less crowded than some of the beach golf courses during high tourist season.
While the Carolina Club’s signature hole is No. 7, a 166-yard, par-3 featuring a TPC Sawgrass-type island green, there are many holes — including five par-3s and five par-5s — which could rightfully fit the designation. In the winter of 2001, architect Bob Moore was brought in to revamp the ninth, 10th and 18th holes. The biggest changes occurred on the ninth and eighteenth holes, both par-5s, which Moore reversed to help accommodate future development.
“We’ve got great terrain and our two courses set the bar for conditioning,” said Kinser. “We may not be Myrtle Beach or Pinehurst, but there is plenty of good golf on the Outer Banks.”