Here’s our list of the top 10 courses in the Palmetto State.
1. THE OCEAN COURSE, Kiawah Island Both the best and hardest course in this state, arguably the Southeast. Pete Dye’s artistry combines with ever-present wind to produce an unrelenting test of shotmaking and resolve. It hosts the PGA Championship for a second time in 2021.
2. YEAMANS HALL, Hanahan A Seth Raynor classic just north of Charleston, restored by Tom Doak and Jim Urbina in a setting of timeless serenity. Broad fairways lined by tall pines and moss-draped oaks lead to enormous, imaginatively contoured greens that are a joyful challenge to decipher and putt.
3. HARBOUR TOWN, Hilton Head Island When Pete Dye designed it he said, “It’s different, but then so was Garbo.” In an era of expansive course design, he created slivers of twisting fairways and tiny, tightly bunkered greens. It was a hit the day it opened and remains so.
4. CONGAREE, Ridgeland Built by a pair of billionaires on a former rice plantation, this Tom Fazio design gained instant acclaim, and why not? It has the feel of Pine Valley, the bunkering of the Australian Sandbelt courses, and the fast-running conditions of a Scottish links. It hosts the 2021 Palmetto Championship.
5. SAGE VALLEY, Graniteville Less than half an hour from Augusta National sits this unabashed homage to the Masters site: broad pine-lined fairways, winding streams, abundant azaleas, immaculate conditions, compulsory caddies, and even green jackets for the members.
6. SECESSION, Beaufort Set on an island in the heart of the Lowcountry, this is a thorough examination in both course management and ball striking, with 14 holes running alongside the tidal marshes. Near constant wind adds terror to many assignments, particularly the island par-three 17th.
7. LONG COVE, Hilton Head Island Pete Dye followed up his success at Harbour Town with this private club a few miles down the road, where the corridors are a bit more expansive and the greens more contoured. Water comes in play on a dozen holes, notably at the 13th and 14th beside the Broad Creek.
8. THE DUNES, Myrtle Beach The second course on Myrtle Beach, this 1949 design by Robert Trent Jones remains the best thanks to a superb piece of property, imaginative routing, and a collection of memorable, challenging holes, particularly the par fives.
9. PALMETTO, Aiken One of America’s oldest clubs, Palmetto began in 1892, but the current course is very much the work of Alister MacKenzie, who worked on it at around the same time he did Augusta National. Strong par fours and ingeniously contoured greens are its hallmarks.
10. MAY RIVER, Bluffton Jack Nicklaus joins the list with this layout for guests at the Montage Palmetto Bluff resort. The Bear was generous off the tee with wide fairways and light rough, but the greens complexes offer plenty to think about and the surfaces are both fiercely sloped and fast.