LELAND, NC – Here’s the question. Why would anyone drive from the Myrtle Beach area almost to Wilmington, NC to play golf? Here’s the answer: Cape Fear National is one of the best golf courses you’ll ever play and well worth twice the drive.
Upon entering the Cape Fear National bag drop area; you immediately sense that “welcome feeling.” The bag handlers, pro shop staff and starter greet you as an old friend. They seem genuinely glad you’ve come. Although the centerpiece of a developing residential community, homes do not intrude on this beautiful golf course. It seems the layout was designed for the golfers enjoyment and not the residents viewing pleasure.
The clubhouse has a rich feeling with an outstanding pub and dining area. The pro shop offers name brand and logo merchandise. Take time to hit some balls on the grass driving range and utilize one of the chipping greens. Definitely spend some time on the putting green.
There are numerous things that stand out about Cape Fear National, but the genesis of this golf course is its pure scenic beauty. Designer Tim Cate has produced an absolutely gorgeous golf course. Using the natural terrain and incorporating some signature options, a Pinehurst/British Isles look has been achieved. Visually stunning Cape Fear National is as aesthetically pleasing as any golf course in the Wilmington/Pawleys Island corridor.
From the White Tees at 6195-yards the average golfer will not find this course particularly penal in length. However from the Blue Tees and on back to the tips, this layout has all the distance you’ll ever desire. Whichever tee box you choose, you’re going to need you’re “A” game.
Fairways are somewhat narrow with sand, waste, water or wooded hazards coming into play on virtually every hole. Look closely at where you need to hit the tee ball and visualize that shot. Many holes have subtle (and some not so subtle) doglegs that demand accurate ball placement off the tee. Your driver is not always necessary.
No. 1 is a perfect example and a good starting hole to get your course management in place. From the White Tees a tee shot to right center of the fairway leaves you in perfect position. Your second shot flows to a downhill green with an open front. Water to the left really should not come into play with a short iron in your hand. However, a drive right may find some sea oats grass, or worse yet a wooded area. A drive to the left finds sand hazards, or even water if you carry the traps.
On the majority of Par 4s and 5s at Cape Fear National, driving accuracy and course management are absolutely necessary, if you plan to score well. However, it’s what you do on the other end of the fairway that’s just as important.
Earlier it was suggested you spend some time on the practice green before venturing to the first tee box. The day we played the speed was measured at 11. Pace was further complicated by wind that often gusted. The bent grass greens are impeccable and require both an ability to lag and a need for accuracy. An average player is going to 3-putt at sometime. The key is staying focused and keeping putting errors to a minimum.
Mastery of your short game is critical to scoring well at Cape Fear National. Fire at the pin only with lofted clubs. Other wise play a pin position forward on approach shots. Bump and run with front pin placements and putt from the fringe whenever possible.
Often a golf course is memorable by the playability, or uniqueness of its Par 3s, 4s, or 5s. Cape Fear National will have none of that. Each individual golf hole is unique with its on features, while all holes share the stunning natural beauty of the design.
Did I play well that day? Not really, although I did have a stretch of nine holes around the turn where I was just 3 over. However, on the front and back of that string, I got beat up pretty bad.
If you truly love the game of golf and appreciate shot making, course management and the natural beauty of a pristine course, you’re going to love Cape Fear National. I know I did and am already planning to make that drive more than once in the future.