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

Top Golf Courses in South Carolina Announced for 2014

The Ocean Course Ranked #1


The Cliffs at Mountain Park Debuts at #26

For Release: Sunday, March 30, 2014

For Information: Contact Michael Whitaker, 864-907-1949 or [email protected]

The Ocean Course, which has played host to the 1991 Ryder Cup matches and the 2012 PGA Championship, again has been selected the "Best Golf Course in South Carolina" in balloting by the South Carolina Golf Course Rating Panel.

The crown jewel of Kiawah Island Golf Resort, the Ocean Course earned the honor in a tight race that featured the same top 10 courses _ but in a different order _ from the organization's 2012 survey.

"As always, there are so many outstanding golf courses in South Carolina that you're really splitting hairs," Michael Whitaker, the association's executive director, said in releasing the Top 50 rankings at the panel's annual spring meeting Saturday and Sunday at Hilton Head Island.

Designed by Pete Dye and opened for the 1991 Ryder Cup matches, the Ocean Course always ranked among the nation's most challenging by national publications, and the layout adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean won rave reviews from the elite of professional golf during the 2012 PGA Championship won by Rory McIlroy.

May River Golf Club at Palmetto Bluff jumped to two spots to second place and Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville remained third. Greenville Country Club's Chanticleer Course moved up to fourth and Harbour Town Golf Links at Hilton Head Island is fifth.

Rounding out the Top 10 are Yeamans Hall Club in Hanahan (sixth), Long Cove Club at Hilton Head Island (seventh), the Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach (eighth), Secession Golf Club in Beaufort (ninth) and Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken (10th).

The panel is composed of 125 golf enthusiasts from throughout the state and represents a diverse range of occupations, handicaps and backgrounds. The organization's objective is to promote excellence in the state's golf course design and operations through the competitive rankings, education and public advocacy.

Judging criteria include routing, variety, strategy, equity, memorability, aesthetics and experience. The best courses, public or private, are selected in even-numbered years, and the best public courses are ranked in odd-numbered years.

"With new panel members and the renovations and upgrades on a lot of courses, you're always going to have fluctuations on the list," Whitaker said. "There are so many good ones that a lot of quality golf courses don't make the Top 50."

The Top 10 represent both the old and new, and some of the game's greatest architects designed the courses. Dye fashioned the Ocean Course and Long Cove and, in association with Jack Nicklaus, Harbour Town. Nicklaus designed May River in addition to his Harbour Town credit, and Robert Trent Jones Sr. has Chanticleer and the Dunes Club on the list. Seth Raynor produced Yeaman Hall, Tom Fazio did Sage Valley and Bruce Devlin did Secession. Palmetto, which dates to 1892, got its start from Thomas Hitchcock and Alister MacKenzie contributed by lengthening the course and converting the greens from sand to grass during the time he worked at nearby Augusta National in the early 1930s.

"Over the years, Pete Dye has refined the Ocean Course," Roger Warren, president of Kiawah Island Golf Resort said, "but the skeleton and heart are still there."

Kerry Haigh, the PGA's managing director of tournaments who sets up the organization's championship courses, said, "I have watched the course's growth and maturity. The grasses have changed quite a lot, but the routing is the same and always the biggest factor will be the wind, both in strength and direction."

Courses that made the largest advances since the 2012 ratings include Colleton River Plantation's Nicklaus Course, up six positions to 12th; Old Tabby Golf Links, up five to 15th; Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards, up four to 18th; DeBordieu Club, up five to 38th; and Berkeley Hall's North Course, up eight to 39th.

Moving into the Top 50 are the recently opened Cliffs at Mountain Park in Travelers Rest (26th), the Reserve at Woodside Plantation in Aiken (42nd), the Greenville Country Club's Riverside Course (44th), Orangeburg Country Club (45th), the Callawassie Island Club in Okatie (48th) and Prestwick Country Club in Myrtle Beach (50th).

The Cliffs Communities, upscale developments in the Upstate which are under new ownership, placed five courses in the Top 50: Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards 18, Cliffs at Mountain Park 26, Cliffs at Keowee Falls 29, Cliffs at Glassy 35 and Keowee Springs 37.

Information on past rankings can be found online at www.scgolfpanel.org.

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South Carolina's Top 50 Golf Courses for 2014
Selected by the South Carolina Golf Course Rating Panel

RED = New to Top 50    P = Available for Public Play    PR = Private Club

1

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort  P

2

May River Golf Club (Palmetto Bluff)  P

3

Sage Valley Golf Club (Graniteville)  PR

4

Greenville Country Club – Chanticleer Course  PR

5

Harbour Town Golf Links at The Sea Pines Resort (Hilton Head Island)  P

6

Yeamans Hall Club (Hanahan)  PR

7

Long Cove Club (Hilton Head)  PR

8

The Dunes Golf & Beach Club (Myrtle Beach)  P

9

Secession Golf Club (Beaufort)  PR

10

Palmetto Golf Club (Aiken)  PR

11

Kiawah Island Club – Cassique Course  PR

12

Colleton River Plantation - Nicklaus Course (Bluffton)  PR

13

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club (Pawleys Island)  P

14

Country Club of Charleston  PR

15

Old Tabby Links (Spring Island)  PR

16

Chechessee Creek Club (Okatie)  PR

17

Cherokee Plantation Golf Club (Yemasee)  PR

18

Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards (Sunset)  PR

19

Bulls Bay Golf Club (Awendaw)  PR

20

Colleton River Plantation – Dye Course (Bluffton)  PR

21

Kiawah Island Club – River Course  PR

22

Musgrove Mill Golf Club (Clinton)  PR

23

The Golf Club at Briar's Creek (Johns Island)  PR

24

Haig Point Club (Daufauskie Island)  PR

25

Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation (Little River)  P

26

Cliffs at Mountain Park (Travelers Rest)  PR

27

Belfair Golf Club - East Course (Bluffton)  PR

28

Wachesaw Plantation Club (Murrells Inlet)  PR

29

Cliffs at Keowee Falls (Salem)  PR

30

The Reserve at Lake Keowee (Sunset)  PR

31

Belfair Golf Club - West Course (Hilton Head)  PR

32

Daniel Island Club – Ralston Creek Course  PR

33

True Blue Plantation (Pawleys Island)  P

34

Wild Dunes Resort - Links Course (Isle of Palms)  P

35

Cliffs at Glassy (Landrum)  PR

36

Thornblade Club (Greer)  PR

37

Cliffs at Keowee Springs (Six Mile)  PR

38

Debordieu Club (Georgetown)  PR

39

Berkeley Hall – North Course (Bluffton)  PR

40

The Reserve Club of Pawleys Island Pawleys Island)  PR

41

Camden Country Club  PR

42

The Reserve at Woodside Plantation (Aiken)  PR

43

Country Club of Spartanburg  PR

44

Greenville Country Club - Riverside Course  PR

45

Orangeburg Country Club  PR

46

Barefoot Resort – Dye Course (North Myrtle Beach)  P

47

Grande Dunes Resort Course (Myrtle Beach)  P

48

Callawassie Island Club (Okatie)  PR

49

TPC of Myrtle Beach (Murrells Inlet)  P

50

Prestwick Country Club (Myrtle Beach)  P

 

Top Golf Courses By Region

GRAND STRAND
  1 The Dunes Golf & Beach Club (Myrtle Beach)  P
  2 Caledonia Golf & Fish Club (Pawleys Island)  P
  3 Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation (Little River)  P
  4 Wachesaw Plantation (Murrells Inlet)  PR
  5 True Blue Plantation (Pawleys Island)  P
  6 Debordieu Club (Georgetown)  PR
  7 The Reserve Club of Pawleys Island  PR
  8 Barefoot Resort – Dye Course  P
  9 Grande Dunes Resort Course (Myrtle Beach)  P
10 TPC of Myrtle Beach (Murrells Inlet)  P

LOW COUNTRY
  1 The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort  P
  2 May River Golf Club (Palmetto Bluff)  P
  3 Harbour Town Golf Links at The Sea Pines Resort (Hilton Head Island)  P
  4 Yeamans Hall Club (Hanahan)  PR
  5 Long Cove Club (Hilton Head)  PR
  6 Secession Golf Club (Beaufort)  PR
  7 Kiawah Island Club – Cassique Course  PR
  8 Colleton River Plantation - Nicklaus Course (Bluffton)  PR
  9 Country Club of Charleston  PR
10 Old Tabby Links (Spring Island)  PR

MIDLANDS
  1 Sage Valley Golf Club (Graniteville)  PR
  2 Palmetto Golf Club (Aiken)  PR
  3 Camden Country Club  PR
  4 The Reserve at Woodside Plantation (Aiken)  PR
  5 Orangeburg Country Club  PR
  6 Florence Country Club  PR
  7 Mount Vintage Plantation & Golf Club  P
  8 Savannah Lakes - Monticello Course (McCormick)  P
  9 Forest Lake Club (Columbia)  PR
10 The Aiken Golf Club  P

UPSTATE
  1 Greenville Country Club – Chanticleer Course  PR
  2 Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards (Sunset)  PR
  3 Musgrove Mill Golf Club (Clinton)  PR
  4 Cliffs at Mountain Park (Travelers Rest)  PR
  5 Cliffs at Keowee Falls (Salem)  PR
  6 The Reserve at Lake Keowee (Sunset)  PR
  7 Cliffs at Glassy (Landrum)  PR
  8 Thornblade Club (Greer)  PR
  9 Cliffs at Keowee Springs (Six Mile)  PR
10 Country Club of Spartanburg  PR

 


Background On SC Golf Course Ratings Panel

Overview

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 outstanding golf courses, resorts, and real estate developments.

1) 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.

2) 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.
  • Variety – 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 the enjoyment.
  • Experience – Incorporates all elements of the course: practice areas, clubhouse and more.

Structure

The Panel consists of 125 members, twenty-five percent of which represent each of the following geographical regions: The Upstate, The Midlands, The Lowcountry, and The Grand Strand. Twenty percent of the panel are women.

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 [email protected]

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