One of the things that make golf such a enduring social activity is the tradition of the “19th hole”: a bar or pub with good food and drink, and brilliant views of the course and its surroundings, where your foursome can sit, relax and recount details of your round.
South Carolina is noted for a wide array of such establishments, whether the fare is hot dogs and sodas or gourmet meals with wine, beer or spirits. If you’re playing one of these golf courses, your experience isn’t complete without an hour (or more) afterward to cap off the perfect day.
Based on an informal poll of players, including the 100-member South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel, here are the 19 best 19th holes:
* The Ocean Course, Kiawah Island Resort – For post-golf views, it’s hard to beat the one from the Ocean Course’s Ryder Cup Bar in the Robert A.M. Stern-designed clubhouse. Large windows overlook the famed Pete Dye course (18th green especially), plus the dunes and the Atlantic. If the weather’s nice, sit outside on the veranda. Food prices are premium but, as one TripAdvisor review noted, so too is the quality and service. Choices range from burgers to seafood and fowl, with a full drink menu.
* Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island – Located inside the Harbour Tour clubhouse, rebuilt in 2015, Links, an American Grill is as luxurious as the rest of the course’s plush facility. Views from the second floor include the first tee, ninth green and practice range, seating much in demand during the RBC Heritage each April. Besides lunch, the grill offers full dining and bar services, including local craft beers on tap.
* Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, Pawleys Island – A Myrtle Beach-area favorite, the clubby wood-walled Grillroom has plenty of indoor seating, plus a wide range of beverages and food. But the real draw is the wraparound porch overlooking the 18th green, salt marshes and a tidal creek in the background, from which spectators can watch players try to negotiate the water-guarded green.
*Aiken Golf Club – While hardly a resort experience, Legends Grill holds a treasure trove of the club’s historic past. Originally part of the long-ago Highland Park Hotel, the course hosted such famous players as Chick Evans, the Turnesa brothers, Babe Zaharias, May Dunn and Patty Berg, and displays an array of black-and-white photos of each. The course also was site of the movie “Who’s Your Caddy?” and has posters to prove it. Food (burgers, barbecue) is simple but excellent.
*Pine Lakes, Myrtle Beach – The Grand Strand’s oldest golf course has a classic two-story clubhouse designed by architect Robert White and was site of the founding of Sports Illustrated. Check framed photos of that event, then visit the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame, located off the back porch. It’s a great place to unwind and reminisce.
* The Golf Club at Wescott Plantation, North Charleston – The large, spacious Wescott Bar and Grill features a wide variety of beers (on tap and bottled), wine and spirits, plus a complete lunch and dinner menu. There’s plenty of room, plush seating and a number of big-screen TVs for players, family and friends.
* Wild Dunes Links Course, Isle of Palms – With its large, comfortable bar looking out on the first and 10th tees, the Dunes Deli is a favorite place to hang out. Besides grab-and-go sandwiches, pizza and salads, the bar/grill offers a hot breakfast, plus lunch and dinner specialties such as its fish chowder during cold months and its signature Bloody Mary year-round.
* True Blue, Pawleys Island – Similar to its sister course Caledonia, True Blue’s airy, window-lined bar and grill also has an elevated porch overlooking the 18th green, which is guarded front and left by water. The clam chowder and burgers are favorites, and there’s a full bar, too.
* Barefoot Resort – The gathering place for players of all four resort courses, Putter’s Pub at Barefoot Resort offers plenty of seating, big-screen TVs to catch up on the day’s sports results, an excellent restaurant with great food and a view of the Fazio course’s 18th green.
*Pawleys Plantation – Both the Sawgrass Room and the Palmetto Pub, with full restaurant and bar services, overlook the 18th green of the Jack Nicklaus-designed course. The outside veranda is perfect on warm evenings for watching players finish their rounds.
* The Legends, Myrtle Beach – The ultimate “buddy trip” facility, Legends has a large clubhouse servicing the Legends’ three courses, with a sprawling bar and grill, TVs and lots of beers on tap or in bottles. The resort’s separate but nearby Ailsa Pub also has full menus and drink choices.
* Country Club of South Carolina, Florence – The former private club offers both the Grille Room, with photos of movie stars, dignitaries and professional athletes who’ve visited over the years (including winners from the 1991-2000 Ben Hogan/Nike Tour event), and Duffers Bar & Grill, a stand-alone facility with wraparound windows and outdoor seating near the 18th green.
* Plantation Club (Sea Pines Resort), Hilton Head Island -- The Like Oak restaurant/grill/bar is home to world-class cuisine, craft beers, wines and spirits, plus a panoramic view of the first tee and 18th green at Heron Point by Pete Dye, Sea Pines' other Pete Dye course (after Harbour Town).
* Timberlake Country Club, Chapin – The well-appointed, wood-paneled bar on the renovated clubhouse’s second floor offers plenty of drink choices and lunch food, plus views of both the course and nearby Lake Murray. Restaurant 2twenty2 has a full and elegant menu for dinner.
* Cobblestone Park, Blythewood – The spacious bar, with eight beer taps, plus bottled beers, wine and spirits, also serves as the club’s dining room. Outdoor seating on the second-floor veranda overlooks the 18th hole and nearby lake as well as the 16th tee and fairway.
* Pebble Creek, Taylors – This semi-private club with 36 holes (the Creekside course is open to public play) claims to have the state’s best club sandwich in its grill room. The wine list there also is rated among the best by South Carolina Golf Association staff members.
* Links of Stoney Point, Greenwood – Bermuda’s at the Links has a large, comfortable bar area overlooking the golf course and an outdoor fire pit for nice evenings.
* The Walker Course, Clemson – The Madren Center, a two-minute walk from the clubhouse, has the refurbished Sole' on the Green restaurant and Joe's Place lounge and bar. Great views of Lake Hartwell from the patio overlooking the 18th green, plus plenty of conversation about Clemson athletic completes the experience.
* Village Greens Golf Club, Gramling -- Dickey's Barbecue Pit has a franchise location in the clubhouse, which sits in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For lovers of pulled pork and ribs, it's a unique way and place to get your "meat and fixin's".