10 best golf courses in North Carolina

By: Virgin Atlantic

September 30, 2015

Old Course at St. Andrews. Augusta National Golf Club. Pinehurst No. 2. Those are three names you’ll hear from any avid golfer when you ask for their golfing bucket list. The historic Pinehurst No. 2 is one of many courses in North Carolina’s Sandhills town of Pinehurst, and one of 400 in this golf-crazy state. Here’s a list of 10 of the best golf courses in North Carolina to play next time you’re in town.

Pinehurst No. 2, Pinehurst

10 best golf courses in North Carolina | Pinehurst
One of the world’s legendary golf courses: Pinehurst No. 2.© Pinehurst Resort

Course designer Donald Ross called Pinehurst No. 2 “the fairest test of championship golf I have ever designed.” That was in 1907 and it’s as true today as it was then. More golf championships have been played here than at any other course in America, most recently, the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open Championships in 2014. Book your tee times well in advance and get a look at this course as it should be seen: from the tee box.

Linville Golf Club, Linville

10 best golf courses in North Carolina | Linville
Mountain Views, wildflowers, and 18 holes of phenomenal golf await at Linville Golf Club © John Edwards

Try not to get distracted by the big views of the Blue Ridge Mountains when you play a round at the Linville Golf Club. This mountaintop course is as stunning as it is challenging, and it is challenging. Small greens, holes that utilize the mountainous terrain, and more than a few blind tee shots are just some of the reasons Golfweek named Linville one of the “Best Courses You Can Play” in North Carolina.

Bald Head Island Club, Bald Head Island

10 best golf courses in North Carolina | Bald Head Island Club
From maritime forest to dune ridge to seaside holes, the Bald Head Island Club offers challenges as great as the views. © Chip Henderson/Bald Head Island Limited

Two miles off the coast of North Carolina, the Bald Head Island Club takes advantage of ocean breezes, maritime forests, and high dune ridges on a golf course that changes hour to hour. Originally designed by George Cobb and recently renovated by Tim Cate, this course is an elegant mix of manicured course and naturalized areas.


Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro

10 best golf courses in North Carolina | Sedgefield
Another stunning Donald Ross-designed course awaits at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro © McConnell Golf

Host to the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship, Sedgefield Country Club is one of two private courses on the list, but you can play it as part of the McConnell Golf Trail, a packaged golf tour that gives golfers access to nearly a dozen private courses in North Carolina (and a couple in South Carolina, for good measure). Sedgefield has two outstanding courses, one designed by Donald Ross with long, open fairways, and the other designed by Pete Dye, a course that will have golfers replaying that one lie in their dreams.


Old North State Club, New London

10 best golf courses in North Carolina | Old North State Club
The backdrop of Badin Lake makes the Old North State Club shine © Micciche Photography

In the heart of the Piedmont, an hour northeast of Charlotte, is the Old North State Club. The second of the private courses you can access as part of the McConnell Golf Trail. Old North State is a Tom Fazio-designed course situated on a 2.5-mile (4 km) peninsula in Badin Lake; the North Carolina Golf Panel once said this course had “the best par three and best finishing hole” in the state.


Kilmarlic Golf Club, Powells Point

10 best golf courses in North Carolina | Kilmarlic
Water features on this seaside course are challenging and beautiful © Holger Obenaus Photography

Wetlands and maritime forests are the norm on the Outer Banks, and Kilmarlic Golf Club uses both to make this course one of the prettiest in North Carolina. Tall pines and thick-canopied oaks guard fairways and cover tee boxes, and water hazards protect many a green, but still the course is playable, though it may prove difficult at time for novice golfers.


Lonnie Poole Golf Course, Raleigh

10 best golf courses in North Carolina | Lonnie Poole
This Arnold Palmer-designed course delivers 18 holes of golf on the rolling hills just minutes from downtown Raleigh © RogerWinstead/NC State University

The Lonnie Poole Golf Course at NC State University was designed by none other than Arnold Palmer and his team at Arnold Palmer Design Company (which happens to include a pair of NC State graduates). Incorporating views of the Raleigh skyline and glimpses of the NC State campus, this course is home to the NC State Men’s and Women’s Golf Teams.


Hillandale Golf Course, Durham

10 best golf courses in North Carolina | Hillandale
You don’t mind the water hazards when they’re as beautiful as these © Katie Wheeler/almostsummersky

The casual Hillandale Golf Course in Durham is well kept, fast paced, and one of only a handful of public courses in the city. Generous fairways make high-handicap golfers feel at home, and the course layout can reward aggressive players.


Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville

10 best golf courses in North Carolina | Omni Hotels And Resorts
Play where presidents and pros””Obama, Hogan, Nicklaus””have played in the mountains near Asheville © Omni Hotels and Resorts

The par-70 course at Asheville’s Omni Grove Park Inn is another Donald Ross masterpiece, widely considered one of the best golf courses in North Carolina. President Obama has teed up here, as have PGA stars Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan, each of them sending shots down the tree-lined fairways and studying this lovely course from elevated tee boxes. After your round, celebrate the winner with drinks and dinner at one of Asheville’s lauded restaurants.


Pinehurst No. 8, Pinehurst

10 best golf courses in North Carolina | Pinehurst No8
A challenge for advanced golfers and playable for high-handicap duffers, Pinehurst No. 8 is a must-play © Pinehurst Resort

Since this list started with Pinehurst, it should end with Pinehurst. Tom Fazio designed Pinehurst No. 8, which opened in 1996 to celebrate a century of golf at Pinehurst. The 420-acre course is said to encompass every element of Pinehurst golf, from using the gentle, rolling hills and wetlands in the design to greens that look simple but offer a big challenge to the pleasure of walking all 18. Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, and Golfweek have named No. 8 to their lists of best public courses and best resort courses.


Virgin Atlantic operates daily flights to Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Book your flight to North Carolina today and tick a few of these golf courses off your list.

Written by Jason Frye

Virgin Atlantic

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