One of the biggest things the coastal North Carolina area has going for it is a fantastic climate; outdoor recreational activities can be enjoyed year-round and the mild winter temperatures are perfect for golf.
Brunswick Forest is an active lifestyle community in Leland, North Carolina that takes full advantage of everything Mother Nature has to offer. The community is about 10 minutes from the Wilmington area and 30 minutes from the Atlantic beaches. Brunswick Forest borders Town Creek, which flows to the Cape Fear River and then out to the Atlantic Ocean. This 4,500-acre master-planned community is still being built out and is slated to have about 8,000 homes. Among the vast array of amenities available within the community is a private country club that is home to one of the best golf courses in the area.
Cape Fear National Golf Club is not only the Wilmington area’s most celebrated golf course, it’s an award-winning 18-hole championship course whose natural beauty is unmatched by any other golf course around. Since opening in 2010, Cape Fear National has received several awards including a top 10 ranking from Golfweek Magazine as “Best Courses You Can Play in North Carolina,” “10 Best New Public Courses in America,” from Golf Digest, a “Top 100 Fairways in the U.S.” from Golf for Women Magazine and “#41 Top 100 Public Course in the U.S.” from Golf Magazine. It is constantly given “4 ½ Stars” by Golf Digest for “Places to Play.”
Renowned golf course architect Tim Cate has created a course that takes the area’s heavily undulating land and winds its way through wetlands, waterfalls, and beach bunkers. Although the course is carved from acres of forest, trees are not that much of a factor. Instead, North Carolina native grasses and wildflowers are often found bordering Cate’s signature feature – waste bunkers that run the entire length of a hole and sometimes serve as the cart path. This can be seen on holes 5, 13, and 16.
Cape Fear National is all about golf and with that mindset comes outstanding practice facilities. In addition to a full-length driving range, there are several separate areas where you can work on your short game, sand game, and putting. If you are lucky enough to be invited to the club as a guest or on a discovery tour, I advise getting to the course early and taking advantage of all the club has to offer
As you make your way around the course, you’ll find more than 1,500 feet of bridges, three separate waterfalls, several ponds, and strategically placed rock walls. Over 1.5 million cubic yards of earth were moved to create this golfing masterpiece with water or wetlands coming into play on every hole. The result is a gently rolling golf course that is as aesthetically pleasing to look at as it is challenging to play. What you see is what you get; there are no hidden hazards out here!
Whether you’re a low-handicapper or are just new to the game, players of all skill levels will enjoy Cape Fear National. With six sets of tees, the course plays anywhere from 7,130 yards to 4,811 yards. From the Champion Tees, Cape Fear National has a course rating of 74.8 and a slope of 140. I found the Blue Tees (6,208/70.3/131) offered a fair challenge and still allowed me to leave with some dignity intact. Pick the tees that best suit your game and you’re sure to enjoy yourself.
During your round, you’re sure to encounter several holes that will stick in your memory. The 2nd hole at Cape Fear National is a challenging par 5 with a sharp dog leg left that plays 486 yards from the Blue Tees. You’ll need to hit your tee shot about 240 yards to even have a peek at the green. Play your layup shot up the left side being sure to avoid the fairway bunker, which will take the creek on the right side out of play and leave a short pitch shot into the green.
Number 11 is another short par 5, playing 444 yards from the Blue Tees. Don’t let the length fool you; it may be short but there’s a lot of trouble. For starters, you’ll need to hit over the lake on the right side and avoid the two fairway bunkers in the landing area off the tee. Then, you’ll need to hit your second shot up the left side, avoiding more fairway bunkers on either side. If you’re going for the green in two, there’s a large bunker front right, and the water butts up against the green on the right. The green is slightly elevated.
Bunkers steal the spotlight on Numbers 12 and 13. The 12th hole is a challenging and picturesque par 4 with beautiful bunkering in the fairway on either side and around the green, both in front and behind. You’ll need to fly your approach shot onto this green or risk hitting out of the sand. Number 13 is one of Cate’s signature holes with a waste bunker that you drive through framing the right side of the fairway and snaking its way up in front of the green. Be wary of the pond on the left side off the tee which you may well find if you’re paying too much attention to that bunker.
One of the things that sets this golf course apart is the finishing holes on either side, they are par 3s! Number 9 plays 160 yards from the Blue Tees with wetlands that stretch from in front of the tee box right up to the front of the green. There are bunkers on the right side and behind the green which is a lot wider than it is deep.
Eighteen is a little bit longer, 185 yards, over wetlands to a long, narrow green with two bunkers front left. Just check the wind, choose your club, and swing away. Pars on the two finishing holes are usually indicative of a good round!
Cape Fear National is a private golf club where the focus is on you, the member. After all, membership is a choice that often leads to changes in lifestyle. Cape Fear National offers a welcoming atmosphere in a peaceful, serene setting, where you’re certain to meet others that share your interests. As a member, you’ll enjoy a challenging golf course, fun social activities, and memorable dining experiences. There are no tennis courts, swimming pools, or fitness centers, just a world-class golf facility, a well-stocked bar, great food, and good friends. That’s really all a country club needs.
Cape Fear National Golf Club was recently purchased by Heritage Golf Group, the fastest-growing golf club owner in the country. Heritage Golf Group currently has 25 public, private, and resort-style golf courses in 9 states that will challenge golfers of all skill sets and abilities. For more information on Cape Fear National or to become one of its newest members, give them a call at (910) 383-3283 or visit them online at www.capefearnational.com.