Bald Head Island is a vacationer’s paradise.
Located not too far from Wilmington, NC on the southernmost corner of North Carolina’s barrier islands, this unique destination is not accessible by car; you can only get here by ferry or private boat. With no cars and no crowds, Bald Head Island preserves the natural beauty and stress-free lifestyle of a simpler time. The island has been blessed with 14 miles of pristine beaches, thousands of acres of protected salt marshes, and a spectacular expanse of maritime forest. These qualities make Bald Head Island a one-of-a-kind destination, whether you come for an unforgettable family getaway, or are purchasing the home of your dreams.
If you’re a visitor to Bald Head Island and you’re a golfer, you’re in luck; especially if your rental carries a golf membership with it. This George Cobb-designed layout opened in 1974 and underwent a major renovation under the direction of Tim Cate in 2010. From the back tees, Bald Head Island Golf Club measures 6,832 yards with a course rating of 73.7 and a slope of 143. These numbers are a dead giveaway as to how tough this course plays. Move up to the White tees and you’ll drop down almost 800 yards – 6,032 to be exact – and probably enjoy the course a lot more.
Being from Florida, I noticed a number of differences between golf on Bald Head Island and golf back home. First of all, the palm trees have been replaced by pine trees; and there are a lot more of them. Secondly, there are no “lakes” like there are in Florida, although the rest of the country would refer to them as ponds. On Bald Head Island they are lagoons, but they do share one thing in common with Florida – alligators!
Something else these two destinations share is land that is basically flat, although both Cobb and Cate have done a good job moving dirt around to create a lot of mounding throughout the course. The course winds its way through a maritime forest and out onto a dune ridge that offers spectacular views of the ocean on the final few holes. Bald Head Island Golf Club is one of the most beautiful courses I’ve played in the Southeast.
Favorite Par 3: All of them! It’s too hard to choose just one; they seem to get more enjoyable as you make your way around and no two were alike. One was uphill, one was downhill; one played over 200 yards and another was surrounded by sand. Number 16 is referred to by many as the “signature hole.” The back tees are one of the highest elevation points on the course – if not the island – and provide a panoramic view of golf and sea. There’s water in front of the green as well as up the entire right side. If you hit a bad shot, take a deep breath and enjoy the view.
Favorite Par 4: Number 14, 382 yards. This long par 4, dogleg right looks a lot meaner standing on the tee than it really is; it’s actually one of the widest fairways on the course. Finding the fairway off the tee will give you a look at the green. Your approach shot will be slightly uphill to a green protected on either side by bunkers. It’s a good idea to hit an extra club into the green. Par is a great score here.
Favorite Par 5: Number 7, 495 yards. Standing on the tee of the par 5 number 7, Robin Williams’ stand-up routine on golf comes to mind – specifically the part about putting the flag at the end of the hole “to give you hope!” As you stand on the tee. You see a flag way off in the distance with lots of sand and water between you and the flag. There’s a huge bunker in front of the green, that weighs heavily into a decision to go for the green in two or not. Although I hit a good drive and the green was within striking distance, I opted for the safer path and left it short of the bunker and hit a solid wedge shot up on the green, leaving a good – yet unsuccessful – look at birdie.
After your round, or before if you’re playing in the afternoon, plan on having at least lunch in the clubhouse. I highly recommend the Mojito Taco, grilled sirloin steak, lime, mint roasted red pepper, adobe chili mayo, cabbage, avocado and cucumber on flour tortillas. It’s absolutely delicious and filling. Speaking of filling, the Fish and Chips will satisfy the hungriest of appetites; the house fries and cole slaw are both outstanding. It’s not too often that flounder is the fish used in this dish but it is absolutely cooked to perfection.
Because of its location, The Bald Head Island Club is a very popular venue for weddings and special events. Whether you want to put together an elegant, sophisticated soiree, complete with a four-course catered dinner or a fun, romantic party with a twist, the Bald Head Island Club’s exquisite culinary team will put together a customized menu, and their dedicated staff will ensure that you and your guests are well taken care of.
The Club also offers three categories of full time membership: Golf, Sports and Social. If you’re interested in becoming a new member in any category, these memberships are limited in number and only available when purchasing previously unsold property. A membership may be available when purchasing a resale property from a current Club member who is selling their membership with the sale of their home. All memberships are subject to application and approval. Guest Memberships are available to families vacationing on Bald Head Island and renting a full-time members’ home. If the rental home belongs to a Social Member of the Club, there are no golf privileges extended to the renters. If Guest Members are interested in playing golf while on Bald Head, the Club recommends confirming the house you are renting has golfing privileges.
If you’re headed out to Bald Head Island for a vacation and are looking for a course to play in the area, look no further than the end of the island. If you’re serious about your game, Bald Head Island is one of the region’s premier courses and will challenge every aspect of your game. For more information, check with your travel agent or visit the Bald Head Island Club website: www.bhiclub.net.