The Brunswick Isles Golf Trail
The Carolinas’ newest golf trail straddles the border of North and South Carolina and is loaded with 360 holes of pure fun and technical challenge. Over the years, award after award have been heaped upon the Trail’s courses, from “Best New Course in America” to four-star ratings in “Places To Play.” Three of Golf Magazine’s “Top 20 Courses In South Carolina” are part of the new Trail, as are five of Golf Magazine’s “Top 20 Courses In North Carolina.” And, Golf Digest’s list of “America’s Top 100 Greatest Public Courses” includes three of the Trail’s courses.
The Brunswick Isles Golf Trail was established in the summer of 2008, combining 20 amazing golf courses with a fabulous variety of accommodations that are close by to create a golf experience unlike any other on the East Coast. The Trail stretches 60 miles from Leland, NC to North Myrtle Beach, SC winding its way through the unspoiled coastal area known as the Brunswick Islands. Along the Trail, the courses are in such close proximity that golfers can easily play two or more different courses within a day. In fact, you can travel the Trail from end to end in as little as 90 minutes.
Here is a quick snapshot of the Golf Courses on The Brunswick Isles Golf Trail
We begin at the spectacular Tidewater Golf Club in North Myrtle Beach, SC. Affectionately known as the “Pebble Beach of the East”, this superb test of golf sits high on the bluff of a magnificent seaside peninsula. Tidewater stretches out alongside the Intracoastal Waterway and saltwater marshes of Cherry Grove Beach Inlet, offering spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean beyond.
A few miles north will find you at Farmstead Golf Links. A Willard Byrd design, Farmstead literally straddles the North Carolina-South Carolina border and features the only par 6 on the entire Grand Strand. The mammoth 767-yard, 18th hole begins with a drive to a wide sweeping fairway in South Carolina and concludes on a large undulating green in North Carolina. It’s no wonder that North Carolina Magazine put Farmstead on its “Mighty 90” list.
Next the Trail leads to Meadowlands Golf Club, a classic Willard Byrd layout that twists through groves of large native hardwoods, over meadows, and along natural wetlands. North Carolina Magazine called this course one of the “Top Ten Best New Courses” when it opened. A firm favorite with lady golfers, Meadowlands captured a spot on Golf for Women’s prestigious list of “Top 100 Women Friendly Courses”.
A short drive north is Crow Creek Golf Club, a golf course that enjoys a solid reputation for its pristine condition year round. Crow Creek is an imaginative layout with excellent undulating L-93 Bentgrass greens and lush Tifsport bermuda fairways. Since opening in February 2000, Crow Creek has become one of the most popular destinations for golfers visiting the Myrtle Beach area.
A few miles up the road finds you at Sandpiper Bay Country Club, this gorgeous facility features 27 championship holes set in a picturesque coastal landscape. Sandpiper Bay was rated as “The 2010 Golf Course of the Year” by the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association. Built to be highly playable, Sandpiper Bay has been carved out of a natural pine forest. Each nine features gentle doglegs with elevated tees and remarkably good greens.
Next up are the three distinctive, classic layouts at Sea Trail Golf Resort. This trio at Sea Trail have been praised as “America’s Best Residential Courses of Distinction” by Golfweek; ranked among the “Top 50 Courses In Myrtle Beach” by Golf Digest; and rated among North Carolina’s Top 20 courses by Golf Magazine.
The Maples Course is named for its architect, Dan Maples. It features Bentgrass greens with subtle undulations, water on ten holes and massive waste bunkers; five holes meander along the scenic Calabash Creek. The Jones Course was designed by “The Open Doctor” himself, Rees Jones. This is an exciting design with elevated Bentgrass greens, generous fairways, dramatic mounds and water on eleven holes. The Byrd Course features new Champions Bermuda greens and is built around several man-made lakes that come into play on 13 holes. The Byrd course finishes with a scenic par five that snakes between two beautiful ponds to a picturesque finish at the Jones/Byrd Clubhouse.
A few minutes up the road is the gorgeous Pearl Golf Links, offering two thrilling golf courses. Both were Golf Digest nominees for “Best New Public Course” when they opened.
The East Course is a traditional parkland layout thats been carved out of the pristine Carolina forest with a dramatic finish along the Calabash River. The East course features crowned greens, demanding tee shots and consistent conditioning. The links-style West Course presents lots of open stretches complimented by displays of thick pampas grass. The final four holes offer a dramatic finish along the bluffs overlooking the tidal river basin. Meticulous grooming characterizes the course which has played host to a number of major tournaments.
A short drive up the road will bring you to Oyster Bay Golf Links, a strategic blend of the penal and heroic philosophies of golf course architecture that demands critical thinking. Oyster Bay features two island green par threes and nicely placed fresh water lakes that require skillful shot making. Short by todays standards, this par-70 course plays to just under 6,700 yards, but deep bunkers, undulating greens and long par 4”s make Oyster Bay a thrilling test.
We travel a little further north to Ocean Ridge Golf Plantation, home of the Big Cats.
We start with Lions Paw, awarded 4 STARS by Golf Digest, “Places to Play”. Lions Paw is one of those wild and untamed designs that you simply have have to play. Golf Digest also declared Lion’s Paw “The best in the Myrtle Beach area”. The front nine includes a traditional layout featuring tall Carolina Pines and nice natural elevation changes. The back nine sports the links-style feel of a Scottish course with wide open fairways and lots of plant life and no trees to protect you from the sometimes windy conditions.
Then its onto Panther’s Run, this beauty meanders through a gorgeous nature preserve. Featuring generous landing areas off the tee and new, immaculate MiniVerde greens. This beauty is a fabulous combination of modern design and the best that nature has to offer. Panther’s Run has also been named in Golf Digest’s prestigious “Places to Play” Guide and was also included in their list of the “Top 50 of Myrtle Beach”. The pro shop has also been deservedly recognized and has been ranked as one of “America’s Top 100 Golf Shops” for four consecutive years.
Then there’s the newest of the big cat family, Leopards Chase. Named by Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Best New Public
Courses in America” in 2007, Leopard’s Chase is destined to take its deserving place among the truly elite courses in the Myrtle Beach area. One of the many unique characteristics of this Tim Cate creation is his masterful use of the natural and man-made water features that appear throughout this incredible layout, the most spectacular being on the 18th hole, where the undulating green is fronted by a breathtaking cascading waterfall.
Last and by no means least is Tiger’s Eye, an absolutely magnificent golf course; this fearsome feline features a stunning combination of natural waste areas, native grasses, wildflowers, pine and oak trees with water features that include marshlands and waterfalls. The golf course is not flat at all and the subtle undulations on the fairways present you with a variety of interesting lies. Dramatic elevation changes require critical attention to club selection at this remarkable golf course. A thinking man’s course, Tiger’s Eye demands precision approach shots and a deft touch on and around the greens. Tiger’s Eye was ranked among Golf Digest’s “Top 100 Public Golf Courses in America” for 2007-2008.
Another short trek north and you’re at Brick Landing Plantation Golf and Country Club, an 18-hole championship golf course warmly referred to as “The Brick”. Your round starts and finishes along the spectacular Intracoastal Waterway looking out into the Atlantic Ocean, this breathtaking backdrop sets the stage for a memorable round of golf. The greens are really what “The Brick” is remembered for most, manicured to perfection, they are consistently recognized as the area’s best and provide you with the truest roll.
Next up is the King’s layout, Rivers Edge Golf Club. Nicely nestled alongside the Shallotte River, this is one stop on the Trail that you won’t want to miss. An Arnold Palmer Signature design, this visually stunning course has 7 holes that play along the river and the surrounding marsh. With generous landing areas and large greens, it delivers a tough but fair challenge. After you tee it up at Rivers Edge, you’ll understand why Golf Digest calls it one of “America’s Top 100 Greatest Public Courses.”
Another few minutes north and you arrive at Carolina National, a 27-hole Fred Couples signature golf course. Beautifully set along the Lockwood Folly River and carved out of low-country marshlands, this course offers golfers an endless variety of playing experiences. It has been recognized by Golf Digest as one of the finest courses on the eastern seaboard. The course was designed to accommodate all skill levels through its innovative design and multiple tee placements. Just over 7,000 yards from the tips, the course will challenge the accomplished golfer, yet five sets of strategically placed tees offer an equally challenging test to golfers of all abilities.
The newest golf course along the Carolina coast is Cape Fear National at Brunswick Forest. Designed by up-and-coming architect Tim Cate, Cape Fear National’s lush fairways stretch out over 7200 yards. The course has more than fifty sculpted bunker complexes, three giant waste bunkers and the same brilliant white sand used at Augusta National. Heat tolerant A-1/A-4 bent grass covers the greens which average 8500 square feet, with impressive elevated tee boxes, dramatic berms and meandering fairways among tall Carolina Pines.
Your last and most northern stop on the Trail is Magnolia Greens Golf Course, rated 4 Stars by Golf Digest. This 27-hole facility is located just 5 miles south of Wilmington. A Tom Jackson Signature Golf Course that features 5 sets of tees for various skill levels, making it challenging yet fun for all golfers. Magnolia Greens Golf Course boasts three pristine 9-hole courses. The Magnolia nine offers the opportunity to take in a relaxed round with picturesque water views on four holes. The Camellia nine will challenge even the most seasoned golfer including their own “Amen Corner” on holes 11-13. The Azalea nine features a signature island green. Together, these 27 holes of golf strike the perfect balance between difficulty and playability.
The Trail truly is the place to play!