Promoting excellence in South Carolina golf course design and operations
through competitive rankings, education and public advocacy.

"25 Best Courses You Can Play” Announced for 2007

Greenville, SC – November 1, 2007 – The Midlands, Upstate and Hilton Head areas each have newcomers on the latest list of premier public access facilities announced by the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel. The “25 Best Courses You Can Play,” the panel’s second such release for the pay-and-play golfer, still remains dominated by the Grand Strand and Charleston markets as it was in 2005. Those two major tourism regions account for a combined 18 of the top 25.

The trio of fresh faces in the line-up includes May River Club in Bluffton, The Walker Course at Clemson University and the Country Club of South Carolina on the outskirts of Florence. Their arrival in the top echelon is all the more meritorious given that the panel this year trimmed its list from 30 to 25 courses. Notable departures include the TPC of Myrtle Beach, which has undergone a change of ownership and only recently reopened with newly grassed greens, and Pine Lakes International Country Club, which has been closed for a year awaiting a major overhaul. 

“The list we have released is one that any state in the nation would be proud to offer,” golf panel, executive director, Michael Whitaker, said. “To be truthful, it is a list that the vast majority of states would die to have.”

Whitaker can hardly be accused of parochialism. No fewer than 10 of the top 25 courses you can play in the Palmetto State also appear on Golf Digest magazine’s list of the best 100 public play facilities in the nation. An 11th, May River is missing from the Golf Digest list but ranks higher than some of the other 10 when it comes to the magazine’s list of best courses of any kind in the state.

The apparent anomaly could be explained by the fact that May River, voted best new course in the state by the SC golf panel in 2005, is a private course that allows public access for guests staying at Palmetto Bluff Resort. This is also true of the Country Club of South Carolina, host of this year’s South Carolina State Amateur Championship, which extends playing privileges to guests using on-site accommodations. The course was designed by Ellis Maples, who was tutored in the craft by the legendary Donald Ross.

The Walker Course at Clemson University has been the recent training ground for PGA Tour stars including Lucas Glover, Charles Warren, Jonathan Byrd and D. J. Trahan. Designed by D. J. DeVictor, the course winds over rolling terrain and heads for home alongside Lake Hartwell. The most talked about hole on the course is the par-three 17th that uses four bunkers behind the green to create the footprint of Clemson’s renowned Tiger paw.

“I think we are spoiled in South Carolina when it comes to golf,” Whitaker says. “And this list of the best 25 public access courses in the state is just one reason why.”

The 25 Best You Can Play in South Carolina

Listed alphabetically within region
* New to the list of 25 Best You Can Play


*Country Club of South Carolina
Florence  843-669-0920

Mount Vintage Plantation
North Augusta  803-279-5422


*The Walker Course at Clemson University
Clemson  864-656-0236


Kiawah Island Resort – The Ocean Course
Kiawah Island  800-576-1570

Kiawah Island Resort – Osprey Point
Kiawah Island  800-576-1570

Kiawah Island Resort - Turtle Point Course
Kiawah Island  800-576-1570

 RiverTowne Country Club
Mt Pleasant  888-576-1311

Wild Dunes Resort - Links Course
Isle of Palms  888-778-1876

Hilton Head

Daufuskie Island Resort - Melrose Course
Daufuskie Island  800-648-6778

*May River Golf Club at Palmetto Bluff
Bluffton  843-706-6500 

Palmetto Dunes Resort - Arthur Hills Course
Hilton Head Island  800-827-3006

Sea Pines Resort - Harbour Town Golf Links
Hilton Head Island  800-955-8337

Grand Strand

Barefoot Resort – Love Course
North Myrtle Beach  800-320-6536

Barefoot Resort – Dye Course
North Myrtle Beach  866-326-4065

Barefoot Resort – Fazio Course
North Myrtle Beach  800-320-6536

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club
Pawleys Island  800-483-6800

Grande Dunes - Resort Course
Myrtle Beach  888-886-8877

Legends Resort - Heathland Course
Myrtle Beach  800-299-6187

King’s North at Myrtle Beach National
Myrtle Beach  800-882-3420

Pawleys Plantation Golf and Country Club
Pawleys Island  800-367-9959

Prestwick Country Club
Myrtle Beach  888-250-1767

The Dunes Golf and Beach Club
Myrtle Beach  866-386-3722

The Heritage Club
Pawleys Island  800-299-6187

Tidewater Golf Club and Plantation
Little River  800-446-5363

True Blue Plantation
Pawleys Island  888-778-1876

Background On SC Golf Course Ratings Panel


The South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel is composed of golf enthusiasts representing a diverse range of occupations, handicaps and backgrounds. These individuals have been charged with the task of identifying the best that South Carolina golf has to offer.

Objective and Purpose

The objective of the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel is to promote excellence in SC golf course design and operations through competitive rankings, education and public advocacy. The Panel serves as an ambassador for golf in South Carolina by striving to stimulate and facilitate the promotion and marketing of the outstanding golf courses, resorts, and real estate developments.

1)      New Course Of The Year - As new courses open during the year Panelists are asked to evaluate and "rate" them. The results of these ratings are used to recognize courses for outstanding achievement in course design. These awards are presented annually.

2)      South Carolina’s 50 Best Courses – Bi-annually (in even-numbered years) members of the Panel identify their choices for the “50 Best Courses” in the state, public or private.

3)      The Best Courses You Can Play – Bi-annually (in odd-numbered years) the Panel releases a listing of the best non-private courses in the state. Every resort, public access, and daily-fee course is eligible for this elite listing.

How We Rate Them

In determining their ratings panelists consider the following criteria: 

  • Routing – How the course flows from hole to hole in harmony with existing topography.
  • Design Balance – Degree to which the course demands a full range of shot requirements.
  • Strategy – How design features test course management.
  • Equity – The course’s capacity to reward good shots and penalize poor ones.
  • Memorability – The distinctiveness of the golf course and its individual holes.
  • Aesthetics – The degree to which scenery and surrounds lend to enjoyment.
  • Experience – Incorporates all elements of the course from pro shop, to practice range, clubhouse and more.


The Panel consists of up to 125 members, 8 of which serve as Regional Directors. Twenty-five percent of the panel represents each of the following geographical regions:  The Upstate, The Midlands, The Lowcountry, and The Grand Strand. Twenty percent of the panel are women. The governing body of the Panel is its Board of Directors, consisting of the eight Regional Directors plus two at-large members. 

Categories of Membership 

  • Golf Industry – individuals who have a direct connection to the golf industry.
  • Players & Coaches – individuals who excel at playing or coaching the game
  • Media – individuals who report on golf for one or more media outlets.
  • Business & Industry – individuals who utilize golf within the business community. 

For more information on the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel contact its Executive Director, Michael Whitaker, via email at

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