A guide to golf in Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is quickly becoming one of the top golfing travel destinations in the world and it is no wonder why. There are many top courses in the area including Ryder Cup and USPGA venue Kiawah Island and one thing is for sure, you won’t be disappointed with any of the courses you play.
The coastal city of Charleston sits on the east coast of the USA in South Carolina and is roughly a three-hour drive from Charlotte Airport where you can get direct flights from the UK. On top of this, there are also connecting flights into Charleston Airport, with Kiawah Island just a 45-minute drive further south.
There is plenty of golf for you to explore within a 30-minute drive of Charleston, with courses such as RiverTowne, Charleston National, Dunes West, Wild Dunes and the Links at Stono Ferry to name but a few that you must play. On top of this, Kiawah Island is just 40-minutes away from Charleston.
This Rees Jones designed championship golf course is open to the public all year round and is widely regarded as the best non-resort golf course in the Charleston area. Located just north of the city of Charleston in suburban Mt, Pleasant, the course is carved along the intra-coastal waterway through natural wetlands and lagoons, as well as through a pine and oak tree forest. The result is a true hidden gem of championship calibre, with some of the best views on the south-eastern coast.
RiverTowne Country Club
RiverTowne Country Club is located in Mt. Pleasant and combines the best of Charleston golf and Lowcountry hospitality. The club pride themselves on offering a quality resort experience at an exceptional value. This Arnold Palmer design is situated among scenic marshlands and majestic live oaks, with 13 holes playing along the Wando River and Horlbeck Creek. The moment you finish your round here you will be trying to organise another 18 holes before you’ve even reached the bar.
Kiawah Island is the most popular golf resort in South Carolina and offers challenging golf courses along with a stunning 5* hotel and villas. This resort has a beautiful natural setting near historic Charleston, which allows it to offer some of the finest courses in the USA, including the world famous Ocean Course.
The Ocean Course
Kiawah Island’s number one course, The Ocean Course, is one of only four courses to have hosted each of the PGA of America’s major championships after hosting the 2007 Senior PGA Championship and the 2012 PGA Championship. The PGA Championship is set to return to The Ocean Course in 2021. On top of this, the course also hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup labelled the “War by the Shore.”
The course is located on the eastern-most end of Kiawah island and features more seaside holes than any other course in the Northern Hemisphere, with 10 playing along the Atlantic Ocean and the remaining eight running parallel to those. If you find yourself at Kiawah Island, you must play this course.
Osprey Point was totally renovated in 2014 under the direction of golf course architect Tom Fazio and makes full use of Kiawah’s maritime forests, lagoons and saltwater marshes. The course offers a wider variety of holes that take advantage of its setting, with each individual hole possessing its own unique challenges and beauty. It is no wonder Osprey Point is one of the most popular courses with resort guests.
Turtle Point was designed under the watchful eye of Jack Nicklaus and is very much a course you have to think your way around. Thanks to its traditional design, many of the better golfers prefer to play Turtle Point over any of the other courses on the island. Key features include narrow fairway corridors, small greens and strategically placed water hazards to test even the best of golfers. You must be accurate and long around this golf course if you are to succeed.
Cougar Point is a memorable course for many reasons, but one think that will stand out is one of the most dramatic vistas on the island that sits in the middle of Cougar Point’s front nine, along the Kiawah River. The course features a great mix of short and long par-4s, risk and reward par-5s and extremely scenic and challenging par-3s. This course suits all golfers as it allows players to use their driver with the wide landing areas.
The final course at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort is Oak Point. The course has recently been renovated in 2015 and has brought it up to the championship level of the resort’s other courses. Undulating fairways close to the Kiawah River and the Haulover Creek combined with challenging greens are some of the unique features of this point.
Where to stay?
There are plenty of options of accommodation in Charleston and it is for sure that you will enjoy a comfortable stay in whichever hotel you choose.
Sanctuary at Kiawah
The stunning Sanctuary hotel at Kiawah is a 5* hotel that offers 255 spacious rooms and suites, including the 3000 square foot Presidential Suite. All of the hotel rooms are uniquely designed to include such exquisite amenities as a handcrafted desk and armoire, an elegantly appointed sofa and chair and custom made beds. You can also indulge yourself in the luxury spa that the Sanctuary has to offer when you aren’t on the golf course, for the ultimate relaxing getaway.
Kiawah Island Villas
Another option at Kiawah Island is resort villa rentals. All of the villas have the same layout with the only difference between the resort, deluxe and premier villas being the furnishings. To add, all premier villas have Wi-Fi included. There is also a shuttle service available 24/7.
The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel
If you want to experience some history during your stay then The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel may well be for you. The hotel is located in the heart of downtown Charleston and is close to the Museum Mile along with may historic downtown sights. All the rooms have been renovated in a beautiful coastal palette and offer artfully appointed design that is refined, yet comfortable, with free Wi-Fi.
Hampton Inn Charleston
Another hotel that will stand out if you want to take in the history of Charleston is the Hampton Inn in downtown Charleston. At this hotel you will experience Southern hospitality, antebellum architecture and the unique shops of the historic district right outside the hotel’s front door. In fact, the hotel is adjacent to the Charleston Museum, the USA’s oldest museum, as well as in close proximity to the Gibbies Museum of Art and the Children’s Museum.
Francis Marion Hotel
The Francis Marion Hotel gives you the opportunity to experience unsurpassed views of the historic harbour, as it is the only high-rise hotel in Charleston’s historic district. There are 235 guest rooms including 10 Suites and 7 Penthouse Suites that are all tastefully furnished with modern conveniences. You will definitely enjoy a wonderful night’s sleep after your round of golf with heavenly pillow-top mattresses and luxurious bedding with triple sheeting.
What to do?
Charleston is a historic town that is far different to the bright neon lights of the likes of Myrtle Beach and is a great place to base yourself. Quality food and drink are a key selling point in Charleston, with steak and seafood proving popular with both locals and tourists. But don’t think that this is all it has to offer; Charleston really does have something for everyone.
If nightlife is something that you are looking for on top of the golf then Charleston has that too. In fact, Charleston has a very varied nightlife, including many blues and jazz bars, rooftop bars and speakeasy-inspired bars to offer a setting for everyone.
When you’re not on the golf course, you may find yourself on one of Charleston’s many beaches. Like the nightlife, the beaches in Charleston cater for everyone whether it be a day of water sports or relaxing in the sun. Popular beaches include Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island and Kiawah’s Beachwalker.
Finally, if you want to do a spot of shopping while on your travels then you should definitely take advantage of Charleston’s famous King Street Shopping District, as well as the speciality shops along Market and East Bay Street. The best thing about Charleston is it is very easy to get around on foot, so you won’t have to carry your new purchases too far.
How to get there
Charlotte Airport is serviced by direct flights from the UK, with connecting flights into Charleston Airport. If you happen to be staying at Kiawah Island, it is just a 45-minute drive further south.
A South Carolina golf tour should be high on the bucket list of any avid golfer as it is so simple to do. From Myrtle Beach in the north, it is just a two-hour drive down to Charleston. And then from Charleston, it is under two hours to Hilton Head Island, which features the likes of Harbour Town.
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