Warm Up While Playing The Big Cats at Ocean Ridge

by : Allison Woodward

Drop those snow boots, grab your golf clubs and forget about winter for a while at Ocean Ridge Plantation in Sunset Beach, N.C.

Unlike its northern neighbors, Sunset Beach boasts a mild climate year-round. The warm weather and pristine natural surroundings make Ocean Ridge Plantation the perfect destination for active golfers who don’t want to settle for just a few short months of golf at home.

Sunset Beach experienced no serious weather issues this summer and fall, leaving the courses in beautiful condition.

Ideally located between the history of Wilmington and the excitement of Myrtle Beach, Ocean Ridge Plantation boasts one of the most diverse golf experiences on the East Coast with its three “Big Cat" courses – Lion’s Paw, Panther’s Run and Tiger’s Eye. A fourth course, Leopard’s Chase, is in progress.

Lion’s Paw is an open, hilly 18-hole course that treats golfers to spectacular views of a creek valley and wetlands. It has been described as designer Willard C. Byrd’s finest work.

Panther’s Run, an 18-hole course carved out of rolling woodlands runs along several untouched natural wildlife habitats, and offers large multiple tee areas, giving golfers of all skill levels a fair shot at making par.

Tiger’s Eye, Ocean Ridge’s crown jewel, is a rare treat and one of the most highly praised courses along the East Coast. This upscale, daily-fee 18-hole golf course is distinguished by dramatic 60-foot elevation changes and a stunning combination of natural waste areas, native wild flowers, waterfalls, coquina boulders, and coastal marshland. Tiger’s eye is a thinking-person’s course, requiring precise shot making and a reliable short game.

Construction on Leopard’s Chase, Ocean Ridge’s next Big Cat course, is on schedule with completion slated for 2006. The par-71 course measures more than 7,000 yards and features stunning natural vistas and dramatic elevation changes. Course architect Tim Cate, who also did Tiger’s Eye, believes that Leopard’s Chase will turn out even better than Tiger’s Eye and that golfers will be lining up to sample the next great cat at Ocean Ridge.

And that’s quite a prediction. Tiger’s Eye is one of “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses, 2003-2004," says Golf Digest magazine. North Carolina magazine named it the “Most Scenic Golf Course" in coastal North Carolina, and the third most scenic course in the entire state.

In Golf Digest’s prestigious bi-annual golf “bible" Tiger’s Eye is rated at 4 1/2 stars, which makes it a “don’t miss" golf course. In addition, Tiger’s Eye — along with its sister courses Panther’s Run and Lion’s Paw — is on Golf For Women magazine’s “America’s “Top 100 Fairways" list.

Ocean Ridge also boasts high-quality shopping, service and dining. The Ocean Ridge Golf Shoppe was named one of America’s 100 Best Golf Shops for four consecutive years by Golf Shop Operations Magazine and Tiger’s Eye Golf Links’ store has been named to Golf World Business’ prestigious “America’s 100 Best Golf Shops" list.

The two clubhouses that overlook the golf courses offer a variety of dining options.

With the Canadian dollar at a 15-year high, now is the perfect time to visit Sunset Beach, N.C.

So forget the snow and come play in the sun with the Big Cats at Ocean Ridge Plantation in Sunset Beach, N.C.