Where Golf Fits the Leisurely Lifestyle of the Low Country
The Low Country, that strip of land by the Atlantic Ocean that runs from South Carolina into Georgia, offers a sumptuous way of life, whether you live there or spend a week or two as a visitor.
Mount Pleasant, the Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island are welcoming ocean communities that boast funky cafes and bars. You can also hang out in downtown Charleston, with its trendy pubs, restaurants and shops. Relax and drink the best sweet tea in the world, down some she crab soup, sausage gravy and homemade biscuits, and then sample the area’s fairways and greens.
Let’s check out what I consider the best of the bunch in the Charleston area. Most of the courses are part of impressive secluded communities.
Charleston National Golf Club
This may be my favorite. Original plans called for the creation of an exclusive, national membership-based club that would rival other such destination golf clubs. The developers even had an airstrip built not far from the site. That was all before Hurricane Hugo took down some 4,000 wonderful old Spanish-moss draped “live oak” trees and altered the land forever. Proposals for a private facility were abandoned, the course was open to the public and a tasteful community sprang up on the surrounding acreage.
Wild Dunes Links and Harbor courses
Again, nature, always in evidence on Low Country courses, played a hand in the recent reworking of the finishing holes of the resort’s Links Course.
The ocean crashed into the fairways of the 17th and 18th holes, causing the owners to turn what was a par-five finisher into a par-three. The penultimate and final holes at the Links Course are alone worth the price of admission, as the ocean is a few yards away on the left side.
Tee resort’s sister layout, the Harbor Course, is a fun track in its own right. Playing only 6,359 yards from the tips it has a slope of 131, which provides an insight into the demands the layout places on shot making and course management.
Patriot’s Point Golf Links
Located on the banks of Charleston Harbor, Patriot’s Point offers the feel of a true links course. Ocean breezes alter the character of the layout, which ambles though marshlands, lagoons and tidal creeks.
The William Byrd-designed track plays 6,900 yards from the tips with three other sets of tees. The course harbors, pun intended, one of the best par-three in the area, and certainly one of the most photographed. It’s the 17th, where you will likely see sailboats and ocean-going vessels making out of the port of Charleston, which is located right across the bay.
RiverTowne Country Club
RiverTowne is Arnold Palmer’s first signature course in the Charleston area. The course, which hosts an annual LPGA event, is situated among scenic marshlands and majestic live oaks, with 13 holes routed along the Wando River and Horlbeck Creek.
The tree-lined fairways provide generous landing areas to set up approach shots to multi-tiered greens guarded by bunkers and water. RiverTowne has some of the best conditions in the area and is a real test of playing ability and thoughtful club selection.
Dunes West Golf and River Club
Dunes West plays anywhere from 6,859 yards down to 5,208 yards from the forward markers. Water comes into play on seven holes and the fairways are fairly large and forgiving. The greens are mildly undulating and guarded by bunkers, both sand and grass.
Number four at Dunes West, a 489-yard par-five, is a well thought out design. A big tee shot leaves the player with an opportunity to go for the green in two. But it demands a carry across a pond that runs down the left side of the fairway to the green.
The Links at Stono Ferry
The Links at Stono Ferry has won numerous accolades in recent years for its conditioning, design and character.
The course is located along the intra-coastal waterway and features a links-style design. The front nine was carved out of stands of massive oaks and pine trees, while the back nine offers superb views of the marshlands and waterway.
Close to Charleston
You can access the courses at Kiawah through the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, which offers a number of packages.
While the Ocean Course is the famous sister, the other tracts at Kiawah–Turtle Point, Osprey Point, Oak Point and Cougar Point–are all treats in their own rights. Some claim Turtle Point and Osprey Point are as good as the Ocean Course, save for the final stretch of holes.