The Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, SC

Summer 2003
Kiawak Island Website

FACILITIES
CONDITIONING
COURSE
STAFF
Pro Shop
10
Tee Boxes
10
Yardage Marker
10
Attendants
10
Practice Facilities
10
Fairways
9
Pace of Play
9
Starter
10
19th Hole
9
Rough
10
Scenery
10
Marshals
10
Greens
10
Architecture
10
PGA Pro
10
Bunkers
10
Challenge
10
Pro Shop Staff
10
Water Hazards
9
Caddies
10
Overall:
10
Overall:
10
Overall:
10
Overall:
10

REVIEW:
Much has been written about the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island. Most people are familiar with course from the 1991 Ryder Cup matched dubbed “the war by the shore”. More recently, it became the backdrop for the movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance”. Needless to say, this is a special course. That being said, you don’t need to be a top-ranked professional golfer or a Hollywood star to play one of the finest courses in the world. All you need is four and a half hours of free time.

Upscale golf courses are typically places into a few categories. There are your private country clubs, daily-fee, and your resort courses. The Ocean Course does, what very few golf courses anywhere in the world can. It transcends classification and become a true golf venue. It has unadulterated golf, top-notch facilities and a world-class staff.

The GolfTest USA had the chance this summer to play the course and was blown away. Even with all that has been documented about the Ocean Course, no words or pictures can really do it justice. Many courses throughout the nation have what they refer to as a signature hole. The Ocean Course arguably has 18 signature holes. Some holes are better than others, but even the less spectacular holes would stack up against the best signature holes at most courses. With the Ocean Course, it’s not just a matter of the course conditioning. There is a fundamental design sense about the course that distinguishes itself from pedestrian courses. It’s a course where some of the intangible architecture elements become evident to even the layperson. For example, one can see why each hole is directionally constructed a certain position with regards to the wind and tree patterns.

Overall, there was dissention among our staff as to what the favorite hole was. This clearly speaks volumes about the number of phenomenal holes on the Ocean Course. If we had to pick one, the par three 17th hole is a good candidate. The hole plays over 200 yards from the tips and is all carry over water. The club selection will vary greatly depending on the wind. It is an intimidating hole and there is no doubt that many balls have fallen victim to the water hazard. Long and left are also heavily guarded by sand and waste areas. However, there is a small landing area just short of the green for those looking to play this hole conservatively. Par will still be difficult to manage even from this spot to this undulating green.

RATING:
GolfTest USA recommends the Ocean Courseas an “Elite Course” golf course in the South Carolina area. We would even go as far as giving it an “Elite Course” rating for the entire country.

Elite Course:
The best the area has to offer
Must Play Course:
Don’t miss playing here
Quality Course:
Good solid track
Average Course:
A standard golf experience
Only in a Pinch:
Below average golf