The Currituck Club

March 2, 2008 6:09:56 PM PST
In 1997, Golf Magazine rated The Currituck Club among the Top 10 Courses You Can Play. That was before developers began building million dollar houses along the fairways, but it remains a good and extremely well-groomed challenge for your game.

The Currituck Club has a noteworthy design by Rees Jones, though sand dunes, woodlands, wetlands, forests, with views of the Currituck Sound. There isn't a bad hole on the course. It requires strategic awareness, accuracy, and steady nerves, particularly from the back tees, but this course can be dangerous from any of them.

The first hole, a 541/516/488 yard par 5, will set the tone for your day. It's straightforward and reachable in two for long hitters, but as with most holes on the course, you will need to be precise in making your approach. Should you err, do so to left, where a deep bunker guards the green. But, if you slide a shot right by even the smallest of margins, your ball will plunge down a steep slope into a lake.

The Currituck Club presents plenty of such hazards. On many holes, such as the narrow 532/502/475 yard, par five 7th, your tee shot will land on either fairway, or in wetlands. This hole is rated as the second most difficult on the course, and plays like it.

The number one handicap, 454/427/370 yard, par 4, 5th, doglegs right, up a hill, around a corner guarded by two bunkers. If you're a mere mortal, you'll find it next-to-impossible to clear them, and playing left will be almost as risky. A hooked drive lands dead in the brush. A ball in the fairway requires a long iron into the green. In competition, a par is as good as a birdie on this hole.

The 174/151/126 yard, par 3, 15th is the signature hole, and a beauty. In summer, a warm, silky wind blows in from the Currituck Sound, to your right. The hole requires an essentially simple shot into a wide but shallow green framed by oaks, a bunker, water, and a marsh. Execute, or pay. This par three can become a five in about as long as it takes for your ball to land.

The Currituck Club is better than most of the recreational players who try it. Despite incredibly generous greens, the course will over-match and intimidate them from the start. One of my playing partners, a 14 handicap, scored in the mid-90's. The other, a talented but raw beginner, shot 112, including an 11 on one hole and a 9 on the next. "This is a hard course," he said. "If there's so much water, why did I keep landing in sand?"

Currituck describes itself as private, but uses the term loosely. The facility is open to the general public and is essentially a resort course, due to the many vacationers who own or lease homes and vacation here. It is the most expensive course in the area. As of summer, 2005, green fees ranged from $48 in winter, to $155 from late June until mid-August. "They're away from everybody else on the Outer Banks, " commented a local, "so they have a captive audience."

The Currituck Club is impossible to walk. Many of the holes are isolated and far apart. The course offers twilight rates, but due to high summer demand, time are hard to come by. Make a reservation well in advance, but beware. Based on what we saw of the twilight rate of play in summer, don't expect to get in a full eighteen holes.