Best Golf Courses In South Carolina

Our round up of the best golf courses in South Carolina

Kiawah Island - best golf courses in South Carolina
Kiawah Island
(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Best Golf Courses In South Carolina

The best golf courses in South Carolina include two of the finest public courses on the southeastern seaboard – The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island and Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines Resort.

Both these tracks have hosted some of the best golfers in the world, Harbour Town for the annual Heritage Classic, now known as the RBC Heritage, on the PGA Tour, and Kiawah Island hosted the War On the Shore Ryder Cup of 1991 as well as two PGA Championships. But there are many other great golfing layouts in the Palmetto State, as we recount below.

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club 16th hole

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club 16th hole

(Image credit: Kingfish Communications)
  • Location: Pawleys Island
  • Designed by: Mike Strantz
  • Par: 70
  • Yardage: 6,526 yards
  • Green fee: $109-$249
  • Visit website

In the world of monster par 3s, the 9th at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club is a welcome change, running only 118 yards to the centre of a shallow green which lurks behind a sprawling bunker which defends the entire front of the green. Flamboyant bunkering is a feature of the often imaginative designs, with risk-and-reward golf options, holes which barrel through avenues of mature oak trees and — the clue's in the club name — a fair few water hazards sploshed about.

Congaree Golf Club

Congaree 8th hole

Congaree 8th hole

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Ridgeland
  • Designed by: Tom Fazio
  • Par: 71
  • Yardage: 7,655 Yards
  • Green fee: Private
  • Visit website

Congaree was founded by two philanthropic billionaires ‘to provide underserved and well-deserving high school students who aspire to play collegiate golf access to the highest level of athletic coaching and academic tools to enhance their opportunities for success.’ The course was carved through a forest, with large sandy areas, lakes and ponds added. In 20021 it hosted the PGA Tour for the Palmetto Championship at Congaree, a one-off event designed to replace that year’s Canadian Open, which had been cancelled due to Covid.

The Dunes Golf & Beach Club

Dunes Golf & Beach Club 11th hole

Dunes Golf & Beach Club 11th hole

(Image credit: Dunes Golf & Beach Club)
  • Location: Myrtle Beach
  • Designed by: Robert Trent Jones
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 7,340 yards
  • Green fee: Semi private, fees on application
  • Visit website

Generally regarded as the best golf course in Myrtle Beach, it experiences Ocean breezes despite only one hole, the 9th, actually offering views of the sea. In the main the course is a combination of parkland, woodland and marshland. The later gives rise to the many of the water holes. The majority of the holes feature water, some extensively such as the 13th, a par 5 arcing around Lake Singleton where one poor soul infamously carded a 22.

Harbour Town Golf Links 14th hole

Harbour Town Golf Links 14th hole

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Hilton Head Island
  • Designed by: Pete Dye with Jack Nicklaus as consultant
  • Par: 71
  • Yardage: 7,197 Yards
  • Green fee: $195-$370
  • Visit website

The best of the three courses at the Sea Pines Resort, Harbour Town Golf Links is relatively flat but very tight with tree line fairways, where overhanging branches can often catch the less-than-perfect shot, and the greens are small. The course saves the best to last, with the final six holes generally regarded as the finest half dozen of the 18.

Kiawah Island Club (Cassique)

Kiawah Island Club (Cassique)

Kiawah Island Club (Cassique)

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Kiawah Island
  • Designed by: Tom Watson
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 7,050 Yards
  • Green fee: Private
  • Visit website

For his first design in North America, Tom Watson took inspiration from the British and Irish links courses he loves so much. For example, the 2nd hole is modelled on Turnberry’s 16th hole and the 5th hole was inspired by the same numbered hole at Lahinch.

Kiawiah Island Golf Resort (The Ocean Course)

Kiawiah Island Golf Resort (The Ocean Course)

Kiawiah Island Golf Resort

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Kiawah Island
  • Designed by: Pete Dye
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 7,356 Yards
  • Green fee: On application
  • Visit website

Alice Dye persuaded her husband that it would be better if all holes got better sea views – 10 holes run along the shore – so the land was raised. The height of the land, and so the views, increased – but so did the effect of the wind. When it blows here, it can really blow – it can make an 8-club difference from one day to the next depending on how hard and from where the wind comes – and there is not a prevailing wind here. This is a tough course and easily one of the best public golf courses in the US.

Long Cove Club

Long Cove

Long Cove

(Image credit: Long Cove)
  • Location: Hilton Head Island
  • Designed by: Pete Dye
  • Par: 71
  • Yardage: 7,094 Yards
  • Green fee: Private
  • Visit website

The layout, like many Pete Dye designs, favours placement over brute strength, but it is not as punishing as some of his layouts can be. Nor is the course as manufactured as some of his works can be, but instead lays more gently on the land – for which his wife Alice’s influence has been credited. The course is famed for its beauty and great variety of the hole designs which in turn require a wide range of shot shapes.

Palmetto Golf Club

Palmetto Golf Club 5th hole

Palmetto Golf Club 5th hole  

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Aiken
  • Designed by: Herbert Leeds and others
  • Par: 71
  • Yardage: 6,695 Yards
  • Green fee: Private
  • Visit website

This is the work of many architects. Herbert Leeds extended the original four-hole course of 1892 into a nine-hole one, and then, together with the club pro James Mackrell, into an 18-hole one which opened in 1895. Several members were investors in Augusta National, and when Alister Mackenzie had finished that work, he was asked to lengthen Palmetto. Wendell Miller of New York, who had built Augusta National’s course, carried out the work, some of which used the spare materials from Augusta. Since then, Rees Jones and Tom Doak have carried out work to the course, and Gil Hanse is currently employed as the club’s architect.

What is the best golf course in South Carolina?

The Ocean course at the Kiawah Island Resort is generally held to be the best course in South Carolina. You do not have to stay at the resort to play this Pete Dye design that hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup.


Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he was contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.