That’s the idea behind this spring’s release of South Carolina’s “Best 30 You Can Play” as selected by the SC Golf Course Ratings Panel – a collection of 100-plus media, recreational players and golf business veterans who annually produce lists of the state’s top 50 courses or, this year, the best public-access layouts.
Also chosen by panel members for 2015 were the state’s “Most Improved” courses, those that have undergone restorations and/or renovations. With the golf course construction industry flat in the US, more existing courses are being upgraded instead.
In its “Best 30” vote, the panel selected the top courses in different geographical regions. “Most Improved” courses were also picked by region. Vote totals were not announced.
Here are the “Best 30 You Can Play” winners:
Grand Strand: Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, designed by the late Mike Strantz, a Mount Pleasant resident who died in 2005, earns rave reviews from Myrtle Beach visitors. Second place goes to The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, a Robert Trent Jones course built in the 1940s and accessible via hotel golf packages.
Lowcountry: Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, designed by Pete Dye and site of the 1991 Ryder Cup and 2012 PGA Championship, continues to be the state’s highest-regarded course by national publications. Hilton Head’s Harbour Town Golf Links, home to the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, finished a close second.
Upstate: Furman University Golf Club, renovated by another Pinehurst architect, Kris Spence, is home to the Paladins’ men’s and women’s teams. Clemson’s Walker Course finished second.
The rest of the “30 Best” courses:
The Sea Pines Resort’s Heron Point by Pete Dye and Ocean courses, Hilton Head Island