A potential Monday night March Madness championship tilt between the Tar Heels and the Gamecocks would determine not only the NCAA basketball champion, but also, once and for all, who is the “real” Carolina. But which state boasts the best golf?
(THE CAROLINAS) — One of the most popular storylines to emerge during this year’s March Madness has been both of the “Carolinas” — North and South — reaching the Final Four. It’s a story that will get even juicier should both teams win their Saturday semifinal contests in Phoenix.
This Hatfield-McCoy border battle infiltrates the world of golf, too. Which state — Tar Heel or Palmetto — boasts the best golf? North Carolina has Pinehurst, the “Home of American Golf,” and plenty of other storied courses from the Blue Ridge to the coast, while South Carolina is renowned for a coastline that includes Myrtle Beach, Kiawah Island and Hilton Head Island, along with its own equally diverse array of offerings from the mountains to the midlands.
But for this particular contest, let’s say the “blue bloods” are Pinehurst battling Hilton Head, while the “upstarts” are, say, the Outer Banks of North Carolina versus a place like Santee, South Carolina.
Pinehurst gives us the Talamore Golf Resort and its pair of recently renovated classic layouts, the New Course at Talamore, designed by Rees Jones, and Mid South Club, designed by the great Arnold Palmer. The ongoing restoration of the two classics — including conversion of all 36 greens from bent grass to Champion Bermuda receiving rave reviews — is part of a $6-million capital improvement project at Talamore’s four North Carolina and Pennsylvania facilities. For information call 800-552-6292 or visit www.TalamoreGolfResort.com.
Hilton Head Island is known for Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, which offers three world-class designs by a trio of the game’s legends: Robert Trent Jones, Arthur Hills and George Fazio, each of which has been awarded the Palmetto State’s “Golf Course of the Year” by the South Carolina Board of Directors of the National Golf Course Owners Association. This popular, 2,000-acre resort, bounded by three miles of Atlantic Ocean beach on one side and a sheltered Intracoastal Waterway marina on the other, has been named a “Top 20 Best Resort in the South” by Condé Nast Traveler. For information call 877-567-6513 or visit www.PalmettoDunes.com.
As for the upstarts, the iconic Outer Banks of North Carolina has long been a popular family destination, but also has made a name for itself as a great golf getaway — in fact North Carolina’s No. 3 Golf Destination according to GolfAdvisor. Along with its storied Lighthouses, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, famed Wild Mustangs of Corolla and scores of watering holes overflowing with fresh seafood and spirits, its growing golf reputation is further bolstered with memorable layouts like The Currituck Club, Nags Head Golf Links, Kilmarlic Golf Club, The Carolina Club and The Pointe Golf Club providing plenty of reason to pack your clubs next time you visit. For information call 800-916-6244 or visit www.PlayOBXGolf.com.
Last but not least, Santee, S.C., may be small in stature, but it more than packs a punch when it comes to outstanding and budget-friendly golf. For more than a half-century, traveling enthusiasts making their way through South Carolina along Interstate 95 have enjoyed a stopover in Santee — located almost exactly halfway between New York and Miami — for its superb fishing, excellent golf, affordable accommodations and outstanding food and entertainment. Three lakeside golf courses are less than a mile from one another, with an additional 14 layouts within a half-hour drive. For information visit www.SanteeTourism.com. Specific golf packages are available at www.GolfSantee.com and www.SanteeCooperGolf.com.
So, which of the Carolinas comes out on top when it comes to great golf? Well, like a potential Monday night NCAA title belt, such a momentous final call has to be made on the court — or in this case, on the course. Come to the Carolinas packing your golf clubs, an open mind … and determine for yourself.