The only unappealing Outer Banks beach

The Outer Banks may be best known for its miles of uncluttered beaches, amazing water sports, and assortment of seafood restaurants and charming local shops, but for golfers, the Outer Banks can be an ideal and serene golfing retreat.

While neighboring vacation destinations, like Myrtle beach, SC, may boast dozens of golf courses clustered together, the Outer Banks keeps it simple with just a half dozen courses or so scattered throughout the beaches and the Currituck mainland just a few miles away.

All of these local courses are both challenging and relaxing with picturesque water views, uncrowded greens, and miles of beautiful Outer Banks landscape. Expect these courses to be dotted with live oaks, beach grasses and yaupon, presenting a typical Outer Banks backdrop while still providing golfers with a world of fun. On your next vacation, bring the clubs along and check out these exceptional golf courses on the Outer Banks and mainland Inner Banks.

Outer Banks Golf Courses

Kilmarlic Golf Club

The Kilmarlic Golf Club is consistently rated one of the top courses on the Outer Banks, and essentially all of North Carolina. Located just a few miles across the Wright Memorial Bridge on the Currituck mainland, Kilmarlic is an all-inclusive resort with expansive lodging, a terraced clubhouse with a grille and charming bar, and of course, phenomenal golf.

The 605 acre course was designed by golf architect Tom Steele, and comprises a large parcel of maritime forest and local Outer Banks wetlands. Golfers will find themselves surrounded by canopies of live oaks, towering pines, dogwoods, and small freshwater and saltwater ponds. Nature lovers will adore the wildlife that flocks here, including regal egrets, ibises and Great Blue Herons.

Rates are seasonal and fluctuate slightly in the summer months, but with the Outer Bank's year-round temperate climates, a good round of golf can be enjoyed in January just as easily in July. Golfers can opt for just 18 rounds, a 2-day pass, or enjoy an extended stay at one of the many vacation rentals at the course, either at the Club Cottage for groups of 8 or more, or at a number of vacation rental homes within the club's parameters.

Regardless of where you stay of how long you play, the Kilmarlic Golf Club is an ideal Inner Banks retreat offering world class golf with an Outer Banks atmosphere.

The Currituck Club

The Currituck Club in Corolla offers northern Outer Banks beach goers a fantastic golfing retreat just a few steps away from the beach. The Currituck Course, in operation since 1996, is 18 holes of pristine Bermuda Grass Greenway, designed by Rees Jones. This sprawling course crosses over flat coastal terrain, maritime forest, and even beach shoreline, giving golfers an excellent cross-section of the Outer Banks environment. The course has been designated one of the Top 25 Golf Courses in North Carolina by Golf Digest, and stretches across 6,885 yards of Outer Banks landscape.

The Bunkers Grille and Bar located at the club offers a casual dining locale for golfers post-game, or for a hungry vacationing family, with a wide selection of appetizers, soups, sandwiches and daily specials. Sport lovers can cost up to the bar with flat screen TVs, and everyone in the family can enjoy the club amenities off the course, including several tennis courts, volleyball courts, a fitness center, bike trails, and a playground for the kids.

Like most Outer Banks golf courses, rates are seasonal, with cheaper course rates in the off-season winter months. The course is open year-round, and even offers special "Twilight" rates at a discount for evening golfers. (The gorgeous Outer Banks sunsets are included for free.) Weddings and special events are also popular at the Currituck Club, as the clubhouse facilities features a nice reception area, on-site catering, and easy access to the Atlantic Ocean for beachfront weddings.

Because of the Currituck Club's central location in the heart of Corolla, tee times can fill up fast, especially in the popular summer months. If visiting the Outer Banks during prime season, you may want to book your tee time early.

Nags Head Golf Links

For the quintessential Outer Banks golfing experience, there's nothing quite like the Nags Head Golf Links. This 19 hole course is both a Golf Digest 4.5 star award winner as well as a Golf Week top 50 pick, yet it still retains its Outer Banks character with a cluster of sand dunes, Roanoke Sound views, and acres of quiet soundside terrain in between.

Because of its location along the sound in Nags Head, wind can be a factor and add to the challenge of the 6,126 yard course, but this element simply makes it more appealing for Outer Banks golfing regulars. The series of holes that border the Roanoke Sound, featuring views that extend all the way to Manteo, have been dubbed by Golf Digest as "among the most beautiful in the Eastern U.S.," and nature lovers will marvel at the variety of shorebirds that congregate on the outskirts of the course.

The Nags Head Golf Links also features a driving range and practice range on site, various group golf clinics as well as private lessons provided by PGA professionals, and a well-stocked golf shop. For golfing grub, visitors can head to the soundside grille and bar, and special event and wedding facilities are available for couples who want to wed overlooking the Roanoke Sound.

In fact, this course has become a very popular wedding destination over the years for its amazing waterfront location, sweeping sand dunes, and professional event planners provided by the club to ensure the couple's big day is perfect.

The Nags Head Golf Links features seasonal rates, with special twilight rates for spectacular sunset golfing, and tee times can be reserved well ahead of your vacation. As for accommodations, Nags Head has a variety of vacation rental homes a quick stroll away from the golf course at the Village at Nags Head. Contact a local property management company for vacation rentals with course-side locations.

Duck Woods Country Club

The Duck Woods Country Club is another gem in the northern Outer Banks, bordering the town limits of Southern Shores and Kitty Hawk, and featuring a gorgeous, woodsy 18-hole course as well as an impressive clubhouse. This is one of the area's oldest golf courses, dating back to the mid-1960s.

Today, the Duck Woods Country Club is the only full service Country Club on the Outer Banks, with homes available for purchase or rent within the facilities' grounds.

The Country Club boasts a championship golf course, designed by architect Ellis Maples. This course may seem like one of the most private and secluded courses in the Outer Banks, as it is bordered by the maritime forests of Southern Shores, providing shady holes and secluded lodging and entertainment. PGA and LPGA golf lessons and club fittings are available, along with seasonal PGA, LPGA and USGA golf programs and events. A full service golf shop is also available on the premises, featuring high end equipment and apparel.

The club facilities are truly extensive and include a community pool with aquatic programs and swimming lessons seasonally available, a 2,000 square foot fitness center, special fitness classes including yoga and Zumba, and several tennis courts. The community environment allows local clubs and organizations to thrive, and the Duck Woods Country Club even has its own Women's Association, Book Club, and Toys for Tots drive.

The club premises also have an outstanding restaurant on site, which serves lunch and dinner seven days a week with fresh local ingredients. Special seasonal dining events occur throughout the year for Thanksgiving, Mother's Day, Christmas and Easter, and club members are welcome to join in the festivities.

As a full-service Country Club, membership is required to attend, however special rates are provided for non-resident members. For vacationers who want to turn their vacation into a year-round lifestyle, a number of properties on the course are available for sale, allowing club residents to immerse themselves in the word of activities and amenities provided by the Duck Woods Country Club.

The Pointe

The Pointe Golf Club is another exceptional golf course that is located within the "Inner Banks," the collection of mainland towns that just border the Outer Banks. Located in Powells Point on the Currituck Mainland, just a few miles north of the Wright Memorial Bridge, The Pointe features a world of golfing amenities away from the summer hustle and bustle of the Outer Banks.

The Pointe is renowned for its practice facility, one of the best on the Outer Banks, which includes a full driving range, practice putting green as well as chipping greens, and even a practice bunker for tuning up a golfer's game.

The course itself comprises of A-1 bent grass greens, ensuring prefect lies on the fairway, and borders a series of lush maritime forest and small freshwater and saltwater ponds sprinkled throughout the course. The well-manicured groups provides ample Outer Banks atmosphere, but with wide open spaces and well-tended greenways.

The Pointe's Club House features a nice pro shop, as well as local favorite Keefer's Bar and Grille. The expansive restaurant and bar, featuring a large centrally located stone fireplace, serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week, as well as seasonal dinners, and is a favorite for golfers looking for a cold beer and a warm appetizer or two.

The Pointe also features seasonal events and tournaments, as well as ample facilities for wedding and special events. Couples can opt for buffet-style events with up to 200 guests, seated dinners for up to 150 guests, or quiet, smaller receptions at the Tree House Reception Venue House.

Golfing rates vary by season, and special discounts are provided for afternoon and evening tee times. Weekend visitors can also purchase 2-day passes, or look into seasonal memberships for Outer Banks golfing all year long. With a gorgeous Inner Banks backdrop and world-class greens, The Pointe is a must stop on any Outer Banks golfer's agenda.

Carolina Club

The Carolina Club is a sister course and golf club to The Pointe and is located just a few miles away in nearby mainland Grandy, NC. This 7,000 yard championship course is "groomed for the pro but available to the public," and features superb bent grass greens and a collection of local Outer Banks plant life and landscaping, including sea grasses, pine trees and cedars, and small freshwater and saltwater ponds bordering the holes. Several holes are even bulk headed, adjacent to Currituck Sound saltwater ponds and canals, allowing golfer's to be both challenged and entranced by the Outer Banks surroundings.

Nature lovers will note that the secluded surrounding invite a lot of wildlife, including ibises, egrets, herons, as well as lesser-spotted species, such as foxes and even small white-tailed deer.

An expansive pro shop is located on the premises, and golfers will enjoy proximity to neighboring Keefer's Bar and Grille for post-golfing grub in a cozy setting with gorgeous views. Special events and weddings are also just a stone's throw away at The Pointe, with world class catering and reception facilities available.

Visiting golfers can elect to book a single tee time, with rates that vary with the season, or book a two day pass for optimal golfing at both The Carolina Club and The Pointe. This allows golfers to enjoy two of the Inner Banks' best courses at one all-inclusive rate. Membership is also available annually, with access to both courses, for regular Outer Banks visitors.

In fact, visiting a number of the courses on the Outer Banks is the best way to delve into the local golf scene, as every course is just a little different, and offers its own unique slice of the Outer Banks environment and lifestyle.

Golfers who love the coastal vibe and landscape, but want to avoid the crowds and hype that can overcome some resort destinations on the East Coast will surely fall in love with the Outer Banks. Though the area offers just a small handful of courses, the courses and clubs themselves have been designed and maintained with intricate detail to both the playability of the greens, as well as the preservation of the natural coastal setting.

This is why Outer Banks golfers can expect to play along the sand dunes, enjoy holes bordering the local saltwater sounds, or spot a great blue heron or visiting egret as they wind through the course. The Outer Banks is known for keeping things deceptively simple, and with acres of fairways tucked away behind live oaks, cedar trees and sea oats, vacationing golfers can enjoy the scenic landscape of the Outer Banks while perfecting their swing at a championship course.

Book a tee time well in advance, particularly during the June, July, and August months when Outer Banks tourism is at its peak, and enjoy a round of golf along the East Coast's most natural yet breathtaking waterfront settings.