Golf

Bob Gillespie

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

PGA 2012: Play golf as well as watching the PGA Tour pros

Posted 8/2/2012 3:11:00 PM

So you’re ready for the 2012 PGA Championship next week at Kiawah Island Resort’s famed Ocean Course: Got your tickets, places to stay and family and/or golf buddies to join you. But, you’re thinking, something’s still missing.

Of course: You want someplace you can play. Even the greatest fan, after all, does not live by watching golf alone.

For every Tiger Woods and Ernie Els fan who can’t imagine missing a minute of the action from start to finish, there’s at least a few who are looking forward to seeing great shots – but also attempting a few of their own. Watch at the Ocean Course in the morning and play yourself in the afternoon, or vice versa. Hey, it’s a tradition.

Fortunately, while getting onto and off of Kiawah Island next week might be a challenge, traffic-wise, the Charleston area has more than two dozen other golf courses, many of which will welcome your group (or solo) with open arms and great conditions. Here’s a look at a handful of courses located closest to Kiawah; other area courses will be covered in this weekend.

Kiawah Island Resort – While Pete Dye’s Ocean Course will be occupied, the resort also has four other courses: Osprey Point, Turtle Point, Cougar Point and (just off the island) Oak Point by designers Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Clyde Johnston. Reservations on the island courses have been “slammed,” says resort publicist Mike Vegis, but “there are some times left.”

Prices per round run $121 (including cart) and Vegis recommends calling soon to get tee times and island access. Driving on-island during the tournament will be very restricted; consult with the reservations staff for particulars. Call (843) 768-2121 or go to www.kiawahresort.com/golf.

Seabrook Island Club – If you’re driving to Kiawah Island’s on-site parking (at Freshfield’s Shopping Center), nearby Seabrook Island is just off the traffic circle at the entrance to both islands. And though Seabrook’s two courses are normally restricted to club members and island guests, “the club decided to open to public play when we learned the PGA was coming,” says assistant professional Randy Murray.

“We’ve already filled our tee sheets for mornings, Tuesday-Sunday, though we still have a few tee times left in the afternoons,” Murray says. Cost for a few remaining morning rounds are $165 (cart and range balls included), and the price drops to $132 after 1 p.m.

“We’ll tell people what’s available” when they call, Murray says. Online signups are available for members only, but “(visitors) will be booked the same if they’re looking for a course to play.” Call (800) 657-4154 or (843) 768-2529. For information, go to www.discoverseabrook.com/golf.

The Links at Stono Ferry – Located off U.S. 17 south near Hollywood, Stono Ferry – voted the Charleston and S.C. Golf Course of the Year by the state’s course owners – has been taking reservations for PGA Week and has booked 200 rounds already, says general manager Greg Wood.

But “we’ve still got some availability,” Wood says, and the course will be opening at 6:30 a.m. during tournament week to make more times available. “This is a big draw for us, definitely helping our business quite a bit,” Wood says of South Carolina’s first men’s major championship.

Rates at Stono Ferry are $89 (including cart) before noon, $69 after. “Most of our bookings have been in the 8 a.m.-10 a.m. range, but we have others coming for the afternoon special, after they go to the PGA in the morning,” Wood says. “We’re the closest (public-access) course to Kiawah that’s not part of the resort,” just 19 miles from the Kiawah Island main gate.

For tee times, call toll-free (888) 785-1813, or go to www.stonoferrygolf.com.

Shadowmoss Golf Club – Located off Bees Ferry Road, just 23 miles from Kiawah, Shadowmoss has been a local favorite for 40-plus years. Built by architect Russell Breeden and first opened in 1969, it features rebuilt Champion greens (nine years ago) and some of the best prices around – one reason general manager/head professional J.P. Ringer anticipates selling out during the PGA.

“We’re already starting to fill up for that week, but we’re not full right now,” he says. “We’re seeing a lot of Internet bookings,” and online bookings receive discounts of $5 on morning rates, he says.

Regular rates range from $54.95 (weekday mornings) to $59.95 (weekend mornings), dropping $10 ($44.95 and $49.95 respectively) after 11 a.m. Go to the website or call (843) 556-8251.

Charleston Municipal Golf Course – Also known at “The Muni,” this 1929 product by Johnny Adams shares design features the private, Seth Raynor-designed Country Club of Charleston, located less than two miles away (and which is not accepting public play during the PGA). The Muni – popular with locals and walker-friendly – straddles a main route (Maybank Highway) from downtown Charleston to Kiawah via James Island.

You’ll have to wait to try for a tee time, though. “We only book seven days in advance,” says head professional Marshall Ormond, a Columbia native who played on A.C. Flora High’s state championship team in 2003. “We do expect a lot more business that week, and we’ve gotten some requests (for tee times) already.”

On Sunday, Aug. 5, The Muni in conjunction with the PGA of America will play host to PGA Youth Day. Some 300 youngsters are expected from The First Tee and the Boys & Girls Clubs. “It’s an enormous golf clinic,” Ormond said. Video of the event is scheduled to air on TV during the PGA.

Besides “the best burgers in Charleston,” Ormond says, The Muni will offer normal rates of $37 weekdays and $39 weekends (including cart), with discounts after noon and after 4 p.m. For details and tee times, go to www.charleston-sc.gov/golf or call (843) 795-6517.