Get Your Free 2021 Vacation Guide

Start planning your ultimate South Carolina adventure with a free copy of the 2021 Vacation Guide. Request your free copy, view the guide online or download a PDF version below.

Vacation Guide Cover
View Our Other Guides

SC Golf Ratings Panel Names Its Top 50 Courses

Bob Gillespie Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 360-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.
More from "Bob Gillespie"

For more than a decade, the 120-plus membership of the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel has voted each year on the best golf courses the state has to offer. In odd-numbered years, the panel selects the top 30 courses anyone can play - an invaluable guide for out-of-state visitors packing their golf bags and residents looking to enjoy courses other than their home turf.

In even-numbered years, the panel expands the list to the top 50 courses, both public and private. The Top 30 You Can Play may be more useful for newcomers and visitors to South Carolina, but the Top 50 is the creme de la creme, and players with ties to local residents may find ways to try out even the most exclusive layouts.

There's this, too: Of the Top 50, 30 percent (15) are public-access, including the three best courses for 2018, and five of the state's top 12. Those five are annually rated among the best in the nation by various magazines, online sites and others. Everyone who knows golf knows their names, their reputations and their histories.

The Golf Course Panel also rated the top "most fun" golf courses for 2018, one in each of the state's four regions. Two of those - Caledonia Golf & Fish Club on the Grand Strand and Clemson's Walker Course in the Upstate - are public-access; Bulls Bay in the Lowcountry and Palmetto Golf Club in the Midlands are private.

Below are the public courses among the Top 50 SC golf courses:

No. 1 - Kiawah Island Resort, The Ocean Course

Home to the 1991 Ryder Cup, 2012 PGA Championship and upcoming 2021 PGA; rated the toughest golf course in the US

No. 2 - The Sea Pines Resort, Harbour Town Golf Links (Hilton Head Island)

Host of the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing since 1969; co-designed by Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus

No. 3 - May River Golf Club at Palmetto Bluff (Bluffton)

Regarded as one of Jack Nicklaus's finest modern designs; accessible via the property's Montage Hotel

No. 9 - The Dunes Golf & Beach Club (Myrtle Beach)

The Grand Strand's second-oldest golf course, designed by the iconic Robert Trent Jones; home to the famed "Waterloo" par-5

No. 12 - Caledonia Golf & Fish Club (Pawleys Island)

The top-ranked modern course (post 1960) by most national rankings services; designed by the late Mike Strantz

No. 27 - Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation (Little River)

Famed for its views of Cherry Grove Beach and the Intracoastal Waterway; designed by Musgrove Mill architect Ken Tomlinson

No. 31 - The Sea Pines Resort, Atlantic Dunes (Hilton Head Island)

Designed by five-time Heritage champion Davis Love III; nation's top course for 2018 by National Golf Course Owners Association

No. 35 - Wild Dunes Resort, Links Course (Isle of Palms)

Reputed to be the first solo design by architect Tom Fazio; rebuilt in 1988-89 following Hurricane Hugo

No. 39 - Surf Golf & Beach Club (North Myrtle Beach)

Another classic Grand Strand design, this one by George Cobb

No. 40 - True Blue Plantation (Pawleys Island)

Mike Strantz's second Grand Strand production and Caledonia's sister golf course

No. 43 - Orangeburg Country Club

Renovated 1960s design by Ellis Maples; private, but accessible via Santee Cooper golf packages

No. 44 - Grande Dunes Resort Course (Myrtle Beach)

Companion to Grande Dunes Members Course; designed by Robert Rulewich Group, noted "tweakers" of US Open courses

No. 46 - Barefoot Resort, Dye Course (Myrtle Beach)

Considered the best of the four Barefoot designs; others by Davis Love III, Tom Fazio and Greg Norman

No. 47 - TPC of Myrtle Beach (Murrells Inlet)

Grand Strand's only five-star course by Golf Digest; co-designed by Tom Fazio and PGA Tour veteran Lanny Wadkins

No. 50 - Kiawah Island Resort, Turtle Point Course

Second among Kiawah Resort courses only to The Ocean Course; designed by Jack Nicklaus

Below are the private courses among the Top 50 SC golf courses:

No. 4 - Sage Valley Golf Club (Graniteville)

No. 5 - Greenville Country Club's Chanticleer Course

No. 6 - Yeamans Hall Club (Hanahan)

No. 7 - Secession Golf Club (Beaufort)

No. 8 - Cassique Course, Kiawah Island Club

No. 10 - Long Cove Club (Hilton Head Island)

No. 11 - Palmetto Golf Club (Aiken)

No. 13 - Cherokee Plantation Golf Club (Yemassee)

No. 14 - The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards (Sunset)

No. 15 - Colleton River Plantation, Nicklaus Course (Bluffton)

No. 16 - Kiawah Island Club, River Course

No. 17 - Chechessee Creek Club (Okatie)

No. 18 - Country Club of Charleston

No. 19 - Bulls Bay Golf Club (Awendaw)

No. 20 - Old Tabby Links (Spring Island)

No. 21 - Colleton River Plantation, Dye Course (Bluffton)

No. 22 - The Cliffs at Mountain Park (Marietta)

No. 23 - Musgrove Mill Golf Club (Clinton)

No. 24 - The Golf Club at Briar's Creek (Johns Island)

No. 25 - The Reserve at Lake Keowee (Sunset)

No. 26 - Haig Point Club (Daufuskie Island)

No. 28 - Wachesaw Plantation Club (Murrells Inlet)

No. 29 - Belfair Golf Club, East Course (Bluffton)

No. 30 - Debordieu Club (Georgetown)

No. 32 - Belfair Golf Club, West Course (Bluffton)

No. 33 - Thornblade Club (Greer)

No. 34 - Camden Country Club

No. 36 - The Cliffs at Keowee Falls (Salem)

No. 37 - The Reserve Club at Pawleys Island

No. 38 - Daniel Island Club, Ralston Creek Course

No. 41 - The Cliffs at Glassy (Landrum)

No. 42 - Country Club of Spartanburg

No. 45 -Florence Country Club

No. 48 - Berkeley Hall, North Course (Bluffton)

No. 49 - Callawassie Island Club

Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 360-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.