Kiawah’s Ocean Course

By:Bob Gillespie


To current fans of CBS’ and Golf Channel’s coverage of the PGA Tour, they are the smooth English accent from the analyst’s chair and the slightly off-kilter on-course reports delivered in a thick Irish brogue. But 21 years ago, Sir Nick Faldo and David Feherty were at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course as members of the European Ryder Cup team – and their perspectives then and now are, well, quite different.

The U.S. Ryder Cup team, having failed to win the Cup for three straight meetings dating to 1985, pulled out a thrilling 14 ½-13 ½ victory to reclaim Samuel Ryder’s golden trophy that week in September 1991. This week, Faldo and Feherty will help call the action in the 94th PGA Championship.

Their memories of the competition are part of a retrospective story in the Charlesto​n Post & Courier, after their interview with veteran golf reporter Tommy Braswell. On Wednesday Braswell passed along some comments by Feherty and Faldo about T​he Ocean Course, which are recounted below with our thanks.

David Feherty: “The golf course has changed so much. I’m not sure (playing in 1991) gives me an advantage any way in terms of how it will play. In terms of the history of this golf course, how it's grown, the way this area has sprung up, it’s an indication of how a golf resort can have an economic impact on an area. This is one of the finest golf resorts in America, arguably the finest. With The Sanctuary (Kiawah’s five-star hotel, which is hosting most of the 156 players in the field), it's the best hotel we'll stay in all year (on the PGA Tour).

“This is the hardest golf course we’ll see all year, and certainly one of the most beautiful. It brings a whole new cross-section of the public to (the South Carolina) Lowcountry. It’ll get a lot of love (because) it’s so beautiful, so unique, and eco-friendly – it’s actually improved the environment. It’s sort of the gold standard of what (other golf courses want) to be doing.

“(It’s) a great test in many ways. It's a unique test. Again, my criteria of what makes a golf course great is a little different from most people. … It’s a beautiful place, surrounded by wildlife, kind of a unique landscape that you only find in the Lowco​untry. If it's not a beautiful walk, then it's not a great golf course.”

Nick Faldo: “Kiawah (Island) and the golf course will get a lot of coverage. (We’re) talking about sunny, breezy, firm conditions. Now, a wet golf course, that's going to change things. I’ve only been back here for a corporate day, two years ago, and even then I didn't play whole golf course. So I haven't seen it since they softened it.

“I'm really pulling for the event. I want this to be a great event, a great championship. I want it to be a great event for television. If the golf course plays the way we would like it to play, it will be a great challenge and entertaining.

“Who will the weather favor? It’s two prevailing winds, and both of them are really hard. It's relentless, a sea breeze … Guys who hit a natural low draw have got have an advantage over the natural fader. You need to really understand bailouts on these greens, the places (where) if they get firm, the ball's going to roll off, so you better hit the right shot so they will roll off in the right place. You don't want roll off on the side where you can't get up and down. You’ve got to know where to miss it, and that’s tough for a lot of players. Some places, you’re better to aim short of the green, go back and make a par. Things like that. It requires a lot of strategy.”

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