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The Palmetto State comes with a great variety of golf courses, all of them for different budgets, skills and services. Most of them are in Myrtle Beach, a coastal touristic city which counts with more than 120 tracks in its surroundings.
That’s the main reason why you should check out in advance which are the best courses to play in South Carolina. Here’s a list of the top ten, so pick up pen and a paper and start taking notes! You will thank us later:
Best Golf Courses in South Carolina
Ranked 3rd public golf course in all America by Golf Digest in 2017, only after the great courses of Pebble Beach (California) and Pacific Dunes (Oregon), The Ocean Course at the Kiawah Resort is by far the best golf experience you can have in South Carolina.
Located in the Kiawah Island, only a 45 minute-drive from the capital, Charleston, The Ocean has everything you can desire in a golf course: perfectly maintained greens and fairways, beautiful and challenging holes and a stunning location along the beach. It was the first track which was built only for a specific tournament, the Ryder Cup of 1991.
Of all Pete Dyes design, this has to be the most difficult one. Almost every hole has some tricky undulations, the dunes and bunkers are numerous and strategic, and the constant wind add up to the challenge. However, this course is something everybody should experience at least once in their lives.
Most of the golfers agree that is quite difficult to name one best hole here, as all of them are unique. Nonetheless, the 17th is worth remembering: a par 3 where a lagoon, some dunes and two bunkers come into play to protect a wide and perfect green.
Its huge clubhouse counts with a full equipped pro-shop, lockers, bar and a restaurant with a porch only some meters from the sea. Apart from this, the resort offers other services such as spa, accommodations, tennis and the possibility of organising special events.
Rates here are not cheap, as you may imagine. Booking a tee time in The Ocean Course should cost you something around $400, golf car included. However, you’ve got some interesting packages if staying some nights in the Kiawah resort.
The Sea Pines Resort is located in the Hilton Head Island in the south of South Carolina, almost touching the border with Georgia, and its city Savannah. It counts with three great courses, of which the best one is Harbour Town Golf Links.
The fact that it was designed by Jack Nicklaus and Pete Dye should already be telling us something. Opened in 1969, this course hosts the annual Heritage Classic (RBC Classic) tournament, and it is said to be a course for the shot-makers: it counts with punishing and narrow fairways full of pines, and very small greens. It is a course that will make you think before hitting the ball from the tee.
Some holes are quite interesting, for example, the closing one (18th): a par 4 with the beautiful red and white lighthouse as background and along the Atlantic Ocean, with a challenging finish over a pond to a really small green.
The rates are also quite expensive here, around $300 per round. However, if money is not a problem, you will not be disappointed.
Myrtle Beach, also known as The Grand Strand, counts with more than 100 golf courses, so choosing one is not an easy task. Nevertheless, The Dunes opened in 1948, being the second course on the Strand, and designed by legendary Robert Trent Jones Sr, what made it one of the best courses since then. Proof of this is that it has hosted five US Senior Open Championships, and some other tournaments such as the Ladies US Open and a PGA qualifying tour.
Although it is located really close to the sea, this is not a links course, and the 9th hole is the only one where you can see the Atlantic. However, its marshes, forests and parkland, combined with lots of water hazards and oaks going along with you throughout all the course, make it a great golfing experience.
The Dunes also counts with some fantastic and tricky holes. The 13th, known as “Waterloo”, is a par 5 very risk rewarding, where Lake Singleton coming into play. If you pretend to reach the green in two, you will have to be pretty accurate, as the fairway is narrower the longer you go. Apart from this one, the par 3s are stunning, from which we can pick the 12th, where a salt-water swamp comes into play.
The drawback here is that it can only be played if you are staying in some Myrtle Beach accommodations, so make sure of checking it all beforehand. In its website you can find all the available accommodations and packages.
May River is only accessible for the guests of the resort, however, it is a great option if you plan on staying some days here. The course is a fantastic Jack Nicklaus design that will leave you speechless.
A 45 minute-drive from Hilton Head Island, this immaculate course is designed absolutely respecting the natural terrain it is built on, using the May River and numerous oak trees as its canvas. White sand bunkers, wide fairways and fast and rolling greens do the rest, making this an unforgettable and challenging golf round.
There are some great holes that could easily be the signature: the 6, 7, 12 and 14 are some of them.
For playing here, the dress code is quite strict: men should wear collared t-shirts with sleeves, slacks or golf shorts; while women should be dressing withy dresses, skirts, slacks, golf shorts or blouses. Golf shoes without spikes are mandatory.
This is a pristine course, but take into account that it will be expensive: green fees range from $200 to $300, depending on if it is peak or non-peak season. But if money is not a problem, we absolutely recommend this gem course.
Located in the tiny Pawleys Island, south of Myrtle Beach, this course was designed on an old rice plantation by the architect Mike Strantz in 1994. Strantz passed away in 2005 with only 50 years old, leaving a great golf legacy behind of original, daring and really bold designs. Its priceless location makes it a perfect combination of beauty: the natural one, with the hundreds of old oaks surrounding the course; and the one of the course.
About the holes, it has been described as a course with 18 signature holes, so probably here the favourite holes may vary from one player to another. However, we could name some of them, all of them par 4s: the 7th, for example, is a hole where accuracy and cleverness are essential in order to not get stuck and not mess up your scoreboard. Other great hole is the challenging 13th, with a dogleg to the left, oak trees and a small green. Finally, the 18th is probably the most popular one. Even when is not the most challenging of the course, the fact that it is played in front of the clubhouse, normally full of people overlooking, makes the players a bit more nervous than usual.
The course also has a great website with all the necessary information for playing there, and a mobile app in order to have a GPS, a 3D map of the track and live scoring option.
Rates here are a bit less expensive than the previous courses, ranging between $100 and $200 per round.
Tidewater is set not far from Myrtle Beach, only a half an hour drive to the north along the coast. This coastal location and the cliffs where it stands on have made some people call this course “the Pebble Beach of the East”.
Designed by Ken Tomlinson in 1990, this track is difficult yet forgiving, with some challenging holes that will make more experience players enjoy, while some others more chilling and easy. This combination makes Tidewater playable for any kind of golfer.
Its signature hole is the 13th, a par 5 with tremendous views of the Atlantic and lined up with some hardwood trees. Other holes to take into account are the challenging par 3s.
It also counts with a fantastic driving range if you want to hit some balls before the round, golf lessons and some packages if you want to stay close to the course.
The rounds here are not cheap, costing around $150.
This course is neighbour of the previous Caledonia Golf and Fish club seen before, and was also designed by architect Mike Strantz four years later, in 1998. Like Caledonia, it is built on an old rice plantation, tons of pines and oaks decorate the whole course and it also counts with great elevation changes.
It is quite an exigent course, and proof of this are the par 5s. All of them are three-shot holes, and will punish the most confident hard hitters. One great example is the first hole, with a dogleg to the left, with two bunkers at both sides, ending with a green protected by water and more bunkers.
One of the greatest holes could be the 3rd, a par 3 playing over a lake, a beach bunker and some slopes that will punish the most conservative ones. The club selection here is essential.
Rates fluctuate between $100 and $150, and like its sister Caledonia, it counts with a web and a mobile app to check all the information.
The Wild Dunes Resort counts with two 18-hole courses, both of them designed by Tom Fazio. The best one is, as you may imagine, the Links one.
Located in the Isle of Palms, near the main city of Charleston, this course counts with the classic links characteristics: the ocean, some dunes and almost no trees. However, the weather has made an impact on the course, which led to some renovations. The last one was in 2015, after the one that took place in 1989 due to the hard punishment of hurricane Hugo. Apart from this, the erosion has made that the original finishing par 5 had to transform into a par 3.
With all this inconveniences, this course is quite acceptable and will be fun for intermediate players. The price is medium-high, ranging between $70 and $150 depending on the season.
We leave the coast for a moment and reach the city of Orangeburg, located in the middle of South Carolina. Hillcrest is the only public course here, and it is run by the city of Orangeburg.
Designed by Russel Breeden and opened in 1973, this course presents some challenges, but it is fair to the golfer on a whole. Its prices are really affordable, comparing them with the other courses: around $15 for 9 holes and $27 for the whole course.
It counts with multiple services, such as practice facilities, a pro shop, lockers and a grill restaurant. Also, if you get tired of golfing, there are four tennis courts where you can practice some tennis drives, backhands, serves and volleys.
To finish the list, we go back to Bluffton, home to the May River Golf Course. This time, the designer is Clay Johnston, opening the course in 1991. The views during all this links course are as splendid, with oaks and marshes along the 18 holes, offering a great experience as a whole.
To name some good holes, the finishing ones: 17th is a great par 3 against the marsh, and 18th is a par 5 that finishes in a quite challenging way, with marsh and bunkers protecting the wide green.
Its price is somehow affordable, with rates which oscillate between $70 and $100.
There is no doubt that South Carolina offers you some of the greatest golf experiences in the United States. Be sure of compare, ask around, and decide the course that fits best for you. You will find it for sure!