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  4. Carolina National Golf Club

BOLIVIA, NC – This 27-hole Fred Couples Signature Golf Facility, conveniently located between Wilmington, NC and Myrtle Beach, SC has a lot to like, beginning with the amenities.

Approaching the handsome clubhouse you are greeted at the bag drop by courteous attendants. They’re genuinely glad you’re visiting. The pro shop is well stocked with logo merchandise and again, the staff is quite pleasant. However, it’s the practice area that impressed the most. The putting green is large. The driving range is generous and well marked. Make sure you arrive early, hit some complimentary balls and roll a few putts.

Personally, I like 27-hole layouts. It gives the starter some options and lends itself to steady pace of play. We had the pleasure of playing the Egret and Heron courses, saving the Ibis for a future visit. Being a Fred Couples fan I knew before arriving I’d like this golf course. There was no disappointment in store on this day.

With five sets of tees the semi-private Carolina National Golf Club welcomes all level of play. From the tips the Black Tees are a brutal 7017 yards with a slope and course rating of 74.2/140. At 6473 yards and 71.2/134 the Gold Tees are a challenge. The Blue Tees measure 5982 at 69.1/127 perfect for the average golfer and 75.0/134 for the ladies of considerable skill. The Teal Tees at 5399 yards are set slope and course rated at 69.1/118 or men and 71.6/125 for women. The White Tees measure 4738 yards at 67.6/120. Play the set of tees that best fit your game and handicap for a pleasurable round of golf.

This is the type of golf course that I really enjoy. Fairly generous fairways and good Bentgrass greens combined with minimal forced carries and some very picturesque holes. I really appreciate a golf course that requires using every club in the bag, while providing a great setting.

In many cases you can tell which holes give a golf course its character – the Par 3s, Par 4s or Par 5s. It’s not so easy at Carolina National Golf Club. Each hole contributes to the length and feel of the course.

On the Egret course Holes 6, 7 & 9 combine for a very challenging, but enjoyable finish. No. 6 is a Par 4 No. 1 Handicap that has the length to deserve its handicap and some well placed sand hazards to penalize the errant shot. No. 7 is a Par 3 that carries the No. 2 Handicap. It shows length from every tee into a well protected tiered green. The Par 5 No. 9 is a hole you have to trust what you see. The risk reward is right in front of you. A well-placed drive presents an opportunity to attack an elevated green. A red flag shows the pin in the front, but that’s a Sunday placement. Stay below the hole.

On the Heron course No. 4 is another one of those holes you just need to trust your eyes. Your tee shot takes you over a rather intimidating gully, so choose your club wisely. This shortest of the Par 4s will give you an opportunity for par or better with accurate shots. No. 5 is the most dramatic of the Par 3s. Your tee box will determine how much marsh you’ll need to carry. This No. 2 Handicap has plenty of length from every tee. Your finishing hole on the Heron is simply one that can make or break your round. A dogleg left over a sand hazard at the turn to the narrowest fairway on the course makes for a difficult tee shot. Keep your second shot on the short grass and you’ll have a short iron into a well-protected green. Par here is a good finish.

Possibly not the closest golf course to where you’re staying, this one is well worth the drive. Fred Couples will not disappoint.