And while "golf vacation" might conjure up visions of men and their buddies, an increasing number of women are turning the traditionally male-dominated golf vacation on its head, taking their girlfriends or wives and their love for golf on the road.
Several factors can make a golf course more "women-friendly" than others, including the layout and length of the design, accessibility and multiple tee offerings, and overall quality of the course and amenities.
But there is more to planning an enjoyable golf vacation for women than just choosing great courses. From its outstanding golf courses to world-class dining, shopping and beaches, Charleston is tailor-made for a girls golfing get-away weekend.
Just ask Jollyn Erickson, organizer for a group of women from the Pinehurst, N.C., area who visited Charleston for a golf getaway. "We were excited to visit Charleston because we have heard wonderful things about the golf in the area," Erickson said. "Over the weekend, we got a chance to play three great and very distinct courses."
Although Erickson's group only had time to sample a few courses, Charleston has several golf venues that have earned rave reviews from national golf publications and visiting women alike.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort features two highly ranked golf courses for women. Kiawah's Osprey Point was recognized as an "Outstanding Course" by Golf for Women magazine. And Kiawah's world-famous Ocean Course, known as one of the toughest tests in the world, also earned praise from the magazine, dispelling the myth that the term "women-friendly" is synonymous with "easy."
Kiawah features several special golf packages for women, including its annual Women's Golf Getaway, which takes place in March and combines great golf with professional instruction.
Just northeast of Charleston off U.S. 17, Wild Dunes Resort features two great courses for women. Both the Harbor Course and the oceanfront Links Course have earned high marks from women at all playing levels. The resort also offers special group golf packages for women that include off-the-course relaxation at its award-winning spa.
And just up the road from Wild Dunes in Mount Pleasant is the Rees Jones-designed Charleston National Golf Club, where placement is more important than distance, and where a large number of female members play host to several large women's groups every year.
Taryn Foster, who visited Charleston with a group of her golfing girlfriends, also appreciated the city's many and varied attractions. "Charleston is a great destination because there are so many things for us to do when we are not playing golf," Foster said. "Even if our golf gets rained out one day, there's still all of the shopping, great spas and restaurants."
As great as Charleston golf is, the non-golf related activities are just as impressive. For women looking to plan a golf vacation, Charleston offers an endless amount of activities, as well as a variety of accommodations.
Both Kiawah and Wild Dunes Resort have a variety of on-site accommodations ranging from hotels and condos to houses within walking distance to the golf courses and the beaches. These all-inclusive packages often include dining incentives and other resort activities such as spas and tennis.
If the group is looking for more urban accommodations, downtown Charleston's hotels are conveniently located for trips to all of the area's golf courses. And when the sun goes down and the golf spikes come off, some of Charleston's best restaurants and vibrant nightlife are near at hand.
"There's really something for the whole group," Erickson said. "All of us love golf, but once we are off the course, there is something for everyone. From just relaxing at the condo to going out for a night on the town, everybody can make their own ideal vacation."
Conde Nast, Travel and Leisure and countless other publications consistently rank Charleston as one of the top vacation destinations in the world. Combine this with the consistent recognition for excellence by the golfing world, and it's easy to see why Charleston is considered the perfect place for an unforgettable weekend with the girls, both on the course and off.