If you love golf and also love the changing of the seasons, then it's hard to top South Carolina as a place where, barring heavy rains and/or lightning, your favorite outdoor activity is always in season.
Is the state sometimes hot and steamy at the height of summer? Of course it is. But that fact rarely discourages players from descending on the Palmetto State from around the country and the world to enjoy more its more than 360 courses. Still, there are differences in when you play golf here - and that's a good thing.
True story: There are several groups of SC golfers who play matches every year on New Year's Day - and many times, they have done so wearing shorts. Why do you think they live here?
That said, planning a SC golfing vacation means planning for those subtle but important differences at different times of the year.
We're not talking snow drifts here. Consider that December's average daytime high temperatures in South Carolina range from 59-62 along the coast, 57-60 in the Midlands and not that much cooler in the Upstate at 46-56. Low average temperatures are mostly in the 40s on the coast, cooling down to the low 30s in the Upstate. January and February numbers are comparable.
It's not unusual for January to have numerous 60-degree days, especially along the coast and around inland lakes. Check out winter deals in Santee Cooper Country.
What can cut into players' rounds is the shorter days, which usually means planning to tee off around 7:30 a.m., or wrapping up by 5 p.m. Still, there are tales of glorious, cool midafternoon rounds in the "dead" of South Carolina winters. And while grasses are dormant, the quality of the turf remains good - and may help players by producing more roll on the fairways.
Perhaps the best thing about winter golf is the great deals, especially in Myrtle Beach's resort areas. Prices drop significantly to attract offseason play. Find more ways to enjoy your golf time and save money here.
In spring, a golfer's thoughts turn to ... OK, probably the Masters Tournament, followed a week later by South Carolina's annual rite of spring/PGA Tour event, the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, at Hilton Head Island. Talk about a fabulous two weeks of golf and picture-perfect weather.
While it's a wonderful time to watch the best players in the world, many travelers want to go find a SC course to test their own games. The Midlands are especially popular this time of year, with many Masters' patrons staying there and commuting the 90 minutes or so down Interstate 20.
A typical week at the first major each year might be two-three days walking Augusta National, and two-three staying close to the (much less expensive) hotel and playing one of the area's 30-plus courses. Find more information about that here.
The Heritage, a state tradition since 1969, also has great atmosphere, laid back festivities and, if you want to play, there are plenty of courses away from Harbour Town Golf Links. Find information to plan your own adventure here.
Life in the South slows down during the vacation months, but June-August is high season for visitors to the Grand Strand, Charleston and Hilton Head/Beaufort. Ocean breezes can make those high temperatures bearable, and with sundown as late as 9 p.m., a late-afternoon round is hard to beat for comfort and an almost mystical experience.
This is also a good time to explore Upstate South Carolina, with its cooler temperatures in the foothills and mountains, not to mention a wealth of great mountain-view golf courses. Favorites include Clemson's Walker Course, Furman University Golf Course in Greenville, and a string of nearly a dozen courses along Scenic Highway 11, where you can start the day staring at blue-tinted mountains and finish with cool winds as you putt out on the 18th hole.
Find more information about Upstate courses here.
If there's a better time for golf in South Carolina than spring, it's the fall months (September-November), starting with warm Indian-summer days and progressing to cool, crisp days. That's especially true in the Upstate, where a weekend of golf on Friday and Sunday, wrapped around a Saturday college football game at Clemson, Furman or Wofford, is about as good an all-sports adventure as it gets.
The weather can range from balmy to brisk, depending on the day and the closeness to winter, but hardly ever is weather going to prevent players from getting in 18 (or 36, or more). While spring can have wet days and even weeks, fall is almost always clear and pleasant; a light jacket or sweater even in November is all that's needed.
Perhaps nothing rivals a no-kids-in-the-house fall vacation to the less-crowded Charleston area, where deals can be had at such resorts as Kiawah Island, Wild Dunes and a number of area layouts. Find more information about what's available here.
Truth is, weather - unless it's stormy - is rarely a negative factor for South Carolina golf. Rather, the changing of the seasons is just enough to appreciate the difference. Bring a jacket in the cooler months, Bermuda shorts in the warmer ones. It's all good.