From amateur to pro…
While Myrtle Beach to the north and Hilton Head to south were developing into two of the best-known destinations in golf, the old port city of Charleston was initially content attracting scads of visitors to its broad beaches, boutique shops, historic sites, fine dining restaurants, and harbor and garden tours. But eventually, the city known as “the birthplace of golf in America” decided to get in on the roaring success experienced by its coastal neighbors and plunged into the golf world with both feet.
First came Tom Fazio, the game’s acknowledged preeminent architect, who designed an oceanfront gem along a pristine stretch of Isle of Palms dunes called the Links at Wild Dunes and suddenly the Charleston area was at the center of golf’s spotlight. When the Links debuted to rave reviews in the fall of 1980, the course captured the imagination of all close to the sport. Almost immediately, the course vaulted into everyone’s “top 100” list.
Soon other “name” architects followed Fazio to the Lowcountry. Robert Trent Jones, the acclaimed godfather of modern golf design, and his younger son, Rees, both carved their signatures in the sandy soils of Charleston, as did Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Gary Player, Arthur Hills, Willard Byrd, Ron Garl and others, including the king himself, Arnold Palmer.
Today, with three resort properties – Wild Dunes Resort, Kiawah Island Golf Resort and Seabrook Island – serving as cornerstones, Lowcountry golfers have literally dozens of courses waiting to challenge and delight them. And the best part is that the great majority of golf courses in the Charleston area are open to the public.
Kiawah’s five amazing courses
Take the five courses that are part of the renown Kiawah Island Golf Resort, for example. The Ocean Course, which provided the scenic backdrop for the 2000 movie, “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” is definitely a course for champions. Through the years, it has played host to some of the biggest tournaments in the sport including the Ryder Cup, two World Cups, the USB Cup, the PGA Professional National Championship, the Senior PGA and most recently, the PGA Championship. But it’s also the course of golf enthusiasts of all playing skills. In fact, Golf Digest named the Ocean Course the “#4 Public Golf Course in the U.S.” The course also earned a coveted five-star rating in the publication’s “Best Places to Play” reader’s poll. GOLF Magazine rated it #4 in its “Top 100 Courses You Can Play” list.
The Ocean Course isn’t the only star in Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s line-up of courses. Golf Digest recently rated Turtle Point Golf Course 38th on its prestigious “100 Greatest Public Golf Courses” list. Osprey Point Golf Course and Oak Point were both recently awarded a near-perfect 4½ stars in Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play” reader’s poll and were both considered among the best values in South Carolina. And Cougar Point Golf Course was recently rated the “Golf Course of The Year” by the South Carolina Golf Course Owners Association.
Turtle Point is also home to the Tommy Cuthbert Golf Learning Center, which features private instructional areas (including seven covered hitting bays and Astroturf putting surface for use in inclement weather), a state-of-the-art computerized video swing analysis system, practice bunker and greens, all available to players of all ages.
Just down the road from Kiawah Island, the golf play continues at Seabrook Island. There, resort guest enjoy uncrowded playing conditions and 36 holes of championship golf played on two challenging and uniquely different courses.
The first name in Lowcountry golf, Wild Dunes Resort, is also among the “Best in State” for golf, according to Golf Digest. The Links Course and the Harbor Course, both designed by Tom Fazio, are open to the public and challenge players at every skill level. Wild Dunes Resort is also home to one of the area’s top golf schools, offering a variety of clinics, lesson and intensives.
Traveler to Charleston have more golf options than ever before. Obviously, those wanting to stay and play may choose to experience one of the area’s outstanding resorts. But for a number of golfers, a vacation with more of a town-and-country flair has appeal. From the heart of the historic district, the commute to any of the area’s courses, including the resorts, is computed in minutes, not hours. And by staying “in town,” the golfer is free to select a different course each day or return to a favorite, based on availability, choosing from the area’s entire list of public offerings. Which ever golfer choose, they can’t go wrong when exploring golf in and around historic Charleston.
Copyright © 2019 by Patra Taylor
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