Best Golf Courses in North Carolina

Updated February 2024 to update booking information.

North Carolina.  All I really new about the Tar Heel State growing up was that it was home to one of the most dominant basketball powerhouses in history.  Dean Smith’s infamous “four corners” offense proved unstoppable for decades.  And anytime my beloved Tar Heels beat Duke, it was cause for celebration.

What I didn’t know until I got older was that the state is home to some of the best public golf in the nation.  Not only is there a lot of it, the quality of courses to choose from is remarkable. 

Having played a fair bit of golf here, I have an idea about some of the best courses.  But, in order to compile a complete list, I needed your help.  As you guys do time and again, you came through with valuable insight and information.

So, grab yourself a glass of sweet tea and let’s have a closer look at the consensus picks.


Olde Beau Resort and Golf Club

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Nestled just 15 minutes from the Virginia state line, Olde Beau Resort and Golf Club offers golf enthusiasts a picturesque and challenging course set amidst stunning natural surroundings. This hidden gem, opened in 1992, provides a unique golfing experience with its tree-lined fairways, dramatic elevation changes, and tricky greens boasting large undulations. The course’s challenging layout and breathtaking scenery make it a must-visit destination for avid golfers.

Olde Beau Resort and Golf Club also offers stay and play packages, providing the perfect opportunity for a complete golf getaway in a beautiful setting.

Olde Beau Resort and Golf Club stands out as a prime destination for golf in the North Carolina area. Its proximity to the Virginia state line makes it an attractive option for golfers looking to explore beyond the well-known courses in areas like Pinehurst. The resort’s picturesque surroundings and challenging course design make it a standout choice for those seeking a memorable golfing experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or just starting, Olde Beau Resort and Golf Club offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and challenging play that define the best golf courses in North Carolina.


UNC Finley Golf Course

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UNC Finley Golf Course offers a challenging and enjoyable experience for golfers of all skill levels, designed by Tom Fazio and highly acclaimed by Golf Digest. The course is playable for all skill levels, offering opportunities to score for both novices and seasoned golfers.

Situated on the UNC campus, this course is accessible to the public and comes highly recommended for visitors to the area. It’s a must-visit for golf enthusiasts exploring North Carolina.

Known for its great layout, UNC Finley Golf Course provides a challenging yet enjoyable experience for players. It’s designed to test your skills while providing a memorable round of golf.

Garnering 4.5 stars from Golf Digest, this course is highly rated by golfers, providing good value for money and a blast to play for all who tee off.

UNC Finley Golf Course stands out not only for its design but also for the experience it offers. Whether you’re a part of the NCAA Division or a casual golfer, this course, designed by Tom Fazio, is a gem not to be missed.


Mid South Club – King’s Course

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Set amidst the picturesque landscape of Pinehurst, the Mid South Club Kings Course offers golfers a captivating and challenging experience on its sprawling 500-acre terrain. The course, known for hosting USGA qualifiers, provides an enjoyable yet demanding round of golf.

With its native wetlands, elevation changes, and expansive layout, the Kings Course delivers a scenic and natural golfing experience. Golfers can expect well-maintained, lush greens that offer an excellent putting experience.

The stay and play packages offered make it convenient for players to immerse themselves in the full Mid South Club experience. Additionally, the Mid South Club Kings Course is located near other renowned golfing destinations such as the Eagle Point, Duke Golf Club, Pine Needles Lodge, and Mid Pines Inn.

This makes it an ideal location for a golf getaway, providing access to a variety of exceptional courses designed by legendary architects, including Donald Ross and Pinehurst, Arnold Palmer design, Rees Jones, and Robert Trent.

Whether you seek challenging play or simply want to revel in the beauty of the surroundings, the Kings Course at Mid South Club promises a memorable golfing adventure.


Scotch Hall Preserve

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Scotch Hall Preserve, designed by Arnold Palmer, offers golfers a stunning coastal course with expansive views of the surrounding bay. If you’re seeking a challenging yet picturesque golfing experience, this is the place for you.

The course bears the mark of the legendary Arnold Palmer, promising a layout that’s both strategic and visually captivating.

The course’s surroundings offer breathtaking views of the bay, creating a serene and tranquil atmosphere for your game.

Accuracy is key here, as the course demands precision to avoid the adjacent marshlands, providing an exhilarating challenge for golfers of all levels.

Scotch Hall Preserve is known for its exceptional maintenance, ensuring that you’ll experience the course at its best.

With its combination of natural beauty, challenging layout, and top-notch design, Scotch Hall Preserve promises an exceptional golfing experience that’s not to be missed.


The Currituck Club

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Nestled among the picturesque coastal landscapes of North Carolina, The Currituck Club beckons golf enthusiasts with its stunning views and family-friendly amenities, offering a captivating golfing experience for players of all levels.

Designed by Rees Jones, this semi-private course provides a unique golfing experience, set amidst rolling sand dunes and seaside vegetation, with spectacular views of Currituck Sound. The course features bent grass greens, ensuring a great putting experience.

Family-friendly amenities such as a putting green and driving range cater to golfers of all skill levels, making it a perfect destination for a golfing getaway.

The Currituck Club presents a challenging yet enjoyable round of golf for players seeking a memorable golfing experience in North Carolina. With its picturesque setting and top-notch facilities, this course is a must-visit for golf enthusiasts.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, The Currituck Club offers an unforgettable golfing adventure, making it a standout destination among North Carolina’s golf courses.


Lonnie Poole Golf Course

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Located at North Carolina State University, Lonnie Poole Golf Course offers a challenging and scenic Arnold Palmer-designed course that caters to golfers of all skill levels.

This public course, designed by Kyle Franz, is one of the best golf courses in North Carolina, known for its stunning views of Raleigh and the surrounding area. The course features significant elevation changes, providing an exciting and dynamic golfing experience.

Lonnie Poole Golf Course also boasts meticulously maintained bent grass, ensuring a top-notch playing surface. Additionally, the course offers a variety of tee options, making it accessible and enjoyable for golfers of all abilities. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned player, you’ll find the course to be both challenging and rewarding.

With its well-maintained facilities and the Carol Johnson Poole Clubhouse, Lonnie Poole Golf Course provides a complete and satisfying golfing experience, making it a must-visit destination for golf enthusiasts in North Carolina.


Tiger’s Eye Golf Course

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If you’ve enjoyed the challenging and rewarding golf experience at Lonnie Poole Golf Course, you’ll be delighted to discover the equally captivating Tigers Eye Golf Course. Located in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, Tigers Eye is a championship course designed by Tim Cate within the stunning Ocean Ridge Plantation.

This Jack Nicklaus signature course is consistently ranked among the Greatest Public Courses due to its breathtaking scenery and challenging layout.

Tigers Eye is renowned for its elevation changes and forced carries, providing a test for golfers of all skill levels. The course showcases the natural beauty of North Carolina with rolling sand dunes, seaside vegetation, and humps and hollows that add to the strategic complexity of each hole.

Players can expect a memorable round with the combination of scenic views and a layout that demands both precision and power.

For those seeking a golf getaway, Tigers Eye offers stay and play packages, making it an ideal destination to immerse yourself in the beauty and challenge of this exceptional golf course.


Thistle Golf Club

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Discover the Scottish-inspired links-style course at Thistle Golf Club, offering golfers a unique and challenging experience with its natural dunes, rolling fairways, and strategic bunkering. Located in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, this Tim Cate-designed course is renowned for its beautiful landscaping and excellent playing conditions.

The course’s layout mirrors the traditional links-style courses found in Scotland, providing a distinctive playing experience.

The well-placed bunkers and undulating fairways demand strategic play, making every round a test of skill and precision.

From the natural dunes to the meticulously maintained fairways, Thistle Golf Club offers breathtaking views and a serene golfing environment.

The course’s design and natural elements present a challenge that captivates both casual and serious golfers, ensuring an unforgettable round of golf.

Thistle Golf Club is a must-visit for those seeking scenic golf in North Carolina. Renowned for its Scottish-inspired design and challenging layout, it’s a standout destination for golf enthusiasts visiting the Tar Heel State.


Cape Fear National at Brunswick Forest

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Thistle Golf Club’s Scottish-inspired design and challenging layout set the stage for a seamless transition to the captivating experience offered at Cape Fear National at Brunswick Forest, a golf course located in Leland, North Carolina. Opened in 2009, this public course offers a challenging layout with natural wetlands and scenic views.

Designed by Tim Cate, known for his creative and strategic course designs, Cape Fear National features expansive fairways and undulating greens, making it a must-visit for golf enthusiasts exploring North Carolina. The course’s rolling terrain and strategically placed bunkers provide an exciting and dynamic game for players of all levels.

With a design that includes elements like crowned greens and forced carries, Cape Fear National at Brunswick Forest pays homage to legendary golf course architects like Donald Ross and Pete Dye. This course stands out among North courses, offering a memorable and rewarding experience for those seeking a top-tier golfing adventure.


Rocky River Golf Club

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Nestled in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina, Rocky River Golf Club beckons golf enthusiasts with its meticulously designed course and diverse range of holes catering to players of all skill levels.

The course’s layout reflects Maples’ expertise, with strategic bunkering and challenging yet fair shots. The course is consistently well-maintained, providing a top-notch playing experience every time.

With a mix of short and long holes, Rocky River Golf Club offers something for everyone, from beginners to seasoned pros. The scenic landscape and tranquil ambiance make for an unforgettable golfing experience.

Rocky River Golf Club is a testament to the rich golfing tradition of North Carolina. Its commitment to providing an enjoyable and challenging course, along with its convenient location, makes it a standout destination for golfers. Whether you’re a local or visiting from afar, this course is a gem worth experiencing.


North Carolina will always be known as the home of Dean Smith and the UNC Tar Heels basketball program. 

But it’s home to so much more as well.  At the top of the list is great golf and hospitality that you won’t find anywhere else. 

As many times as I’ve been to this great state, I’ve only scratched the surface when it comes finding the best of the best.

Lucky for me, you guys are well versed in everything golf in the Tar Heel State.  Without a doubt, your comments and influence made this public course guide possible.

Sincere thanks, and I’ll be back with more soon.

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Paul Liberatore
Paul Liberatore

As the Founder of Golfers Authority Paul Liberatore Esq. has spent the last 7+ years writing about the best golf equipment or instruction from the top golf instructors in the world. He has been a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated Golf and GolfWRX. After graduating with honors from Purdue University, he realized that he had a passion for the golf business and the law. When he's not practicing law, or creating golf content on YouTube, he can be found on his syndicated Behind the Golf Brand podcast talking with the most prolific leaders in the golf industry. 

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