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The Currituck Club -- set on North Carolina's Outer Banks -- is Rees Jones' seaside stunner

Katharine DysonBy Katharine Dyson,
Special Contributor
Currituck Club golf course - 2nd hole
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The Currituck Club is a stunning Rees Jones design on the top end of North Carolina's Outer Banks. (Courtesy of Currituck)

COROLLA, N.C. -- Corolla, on the top end of the Outer Banks barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, is not only home to the famous wild mustangs that freely roam the beaches and dunes but also the site of The Currituck Club, a stunning Rees Jones-designed golf course.

Opening in 1996, it stretches nearly 7,000 yards along the coast with high sand dunes, wetlands, 55 bunkers and a wide-open feeling despite groves of maritime trees.

Masses of colorful flowers planted around The Currituck Club's expansive clubhouse complement the tawny sand and dunes landscape to a tee. Your first impression is that this ClubCorp-managed facility is a class act. And that it is. The second thing you may notice is the ever constant wind.

"As it's located on the Outer Banks between the Sound and the ocean, there is nearly always wind present," said Jack Stone, general manager. "When the wind is out of the southwest it is a completely different golf course than when out of the northeast. One of the more challenging holes, no. 4, plays uphill and most times into the wind."

The Currituck Club: The golf course

Local wisdom suggests: Before you pick your club, look at the tops of the trees to see how hard the wind is blowing. When you reach 15, a par 3, you will understand. You typically need one or more extra clubs to carry the wetlands.

Greens roll beautifully, especially since they were recently rebuilt with L-93 Bentgrass. Many are elevated such as no. 2, a pretty par 3 tucked behind wetlands pinching in from both sides. No. 13 is another elevated green where you should take a moment to climb the nearby hill to get a rewarding view of the landscape and the course.

Happily the course dries out quickly after a good rain.

"The golf course is basically built on a sand dune and drains better than any property I have ever seen," Stone said. "Sometimes it drains too well."

Wide ribbons of water run along some of the fairways, and larger ponds require hefty carries. On the par-3 sixth you are hitting over a sharply delineated fairway defined by angled, buttressed water hazards. It's an interesting hole, contrasting with the second where the wetlands and waving grasses meander naturally along the edge of the fairway.

On the seventh tee, Stone's favorite, note the tall, weathered wood cross decorated by flowers perched on the edge of the tee deck. Set against the backdrop of the sea this million-dollar view is a popular wedding location.

"The entire hole runs along Currituck Sound with beautiful water views and unbelievable sunsets," Stone added.

A number of large homes with multiple-story verandas and condominium complexes set on top of the dunes are located along the fairways. Still there are holes such as the beautiful 14th where houses are pretty much hidden amid the trees.

Since Jones first designed the golf course, ClubCorp has done a lot of clearing to open up views of the water, especially on six through eight where shrubs and undergrowth had started filling in around the greens and along the coastal areas. ClubCorp is also dedicated to speeding up the pace of play.

"We work hard to keep the rounds to four and a half hours or less," Stone said.

Home to a wide variety of wildlife including otters, deer and more than 400 species of birds, birdhouses are tucked into the vegetation throughout the course, a strong clue that Currituck takes "other" kinds of birds seriously.

"We were one of the first clubs in the region to become an Audubon-certified golf course," said Mike Terry, golf course superintendent. "We kind of led the charge for the rest of them."

The Currituck Club: The verdict

One thing for sure: You will feel the wind, smell the salty sea air, catch incredible water views and see birds swoop low of the marshlands. The Currituck Club is a beauty. After golf, treat yourself to a safari among the dunes to see the wild horses.

The Currituck Club also has an all-grass driving range and indoor and outdoor banquet and tournament facilities, tennis courts, fitness center, biking trails and restaurant. Carts are equipped with GPS.

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Currituck Club - clubhouseCurrituck Club golf course - 13th holeCurrituck Club golf course - birdhouse

Katharine Dyson is a golf and travel writer for several national publications as well as guidebook author and radio commentator. Her journeys have taken her around the world playing courses and finding unique places to stay. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, Metropolitan Golf Writers of America; Golf Travel Writers Organization and Society of American Travel Writers. Follow Katharine on Twitter at @kathiegolf.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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