I like beaches.
I’m fortunate to be able to indulge in this love of mine at least once a year. And when I do, I make sure I bring the sticks. Through careful negotiation, I am allotted one round of golf on family vacations.
What does this have to do with Wilmington Municipal Golf Course? My selection of Wrightsville Beach, NC for a family vacation was no coincidence with my desire to play the Muni. I had been in the area once before, and even made it to the doorstep of the course. Unfortunately, I would have to wait a few more years before I got my chance.
Wilmington Muni is one of the more unique municipal golf courses you’ll play. Mainly because it was designed by one Donald Ross. There are simply not a lot of Ross courses you can play without some kind of membership or paying decent coin. Here, you can walk a Donald Ross course for $28 on a weekday.
What makes the course a must play in the Coastal Carolina region is the recent renovation by John Fought and team. All greens have been restored to their original Ross characteristics (or at least, as close as they can get them with the information still available). The result may be the best set of greens I’ve ever played. If not the best, definitely in my top 5.
Unfortunately, it’s really hard to photograph greens while you’re playing and show their true characteristics. From tee to green, Wilmington Municipal is not the most exciting. With the exception of holes 3 and 4, the course is mostly flat. There is really good bunkering (also recently restored) to keep things interesting. As I found out, you want no part of these bunkers. They may be the hardest bunkers I’ve ever played on a public course. If you found one, you should go ahead and draw the square around your number.
Standout holes for me were 3, 4, 6, 9, 11 and 17.
It’s not the longest course, but Amateur tournaments held here rarely yield low scores. Taming the greens here is key to a good score. For me, I was happy that my improved golf swing allowed me to play off of bermuda grass without any issues.
I will say that parts of the fairways could use a little TLC. I think this mostly comes from the low maintenance budget the course has as well as the fact they do around 50,000 rounds a year or more. If the focus of their maintenance is on the greens, I’m fine with that. They are gems!
Wilmington Muni is about 15 minutes from Wrightsville Beach. I’ve heard PoP horror stories, but I was able to get around in 3h 45m on a Tuesday morning that even had a league of 60 year-old men in front of me.
I hope the City of Wilmington continues to invest in this course. It’s a priceless asset to have a municipal golf course built by one of the all-time greats. Of the courses I’ve played, bang for your buck, this is right up there with Keller Golf Course in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Keller may be more interesting tee-to-green, but Wilmington’s greens are vastly superior.