To determine the best golf courses in South Carolina for women, who should you ask for input? Why, women players, of course - especially those with deep knowledge of the state's courses.
Kiawah Island Resort's Sara Youngner, who serves as assistant to Kiawah president Roger Warren and Governor's Club director, and a group of other female experts in SC golf helped come up with a list of favorite courses. They also determined a list of guidelines that women players look for in the courses they love.
What women look for in a golf course:
Limited forced carries: This includes carries from tees to fairways and carries onto greens. Lines of play should be available to skirt hazards while not affecting lines to the green; greens should have run-up approaches; and forward tees should maintain the holes' integrity.
Aesthetically pleasing: This includes placement of bunkers, undulation of fairways and greens, decorative grasses throughout a course, hole shapes and a natural-looking layout.
Placement, condition and maintenance of forward tees: Tees should be level, with clear sight to landing areas; maintained well; and close to cart paths.
Overall layout: Larger greens and wider fairways, not-too-high rough, and risk-reward plays primarily around greens are preferred.
Availability of restrooms on the course: Always important.
With these ideals in mind, the following are rated as S.C.'s top public-access courses for women:
Links at Stono Ferry, Hollywood - "Just fun to play."
Kiawah Island Resort/Osprey Point - "Short compared to the resort's other courses."
Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, Pawleys Island - "Beautiful and challenging."
Kiawah Island Resort/Ocean Course - "Manageable from the correct tees, stresses short-game skills."
Kiawah Island Resort/Cougar Point- "Another relatively short course, resort amenities."
May River Golf Club at Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton - "Jack Nicklaus design is a classic Lowcountry course."
Heron Point by Pete Dye, Hilton Head - "Renovation softened greens and approaches."
Hilton Head National - "Always in really good condition."
Crescent Pointe, Bluffton - "If in good condition, enjoyable to play."
Eagles Pointe, Bluffton - "Same as Crescent Pointe."
Bear Creek Golf Club, Hilton Head - "Now public, recommended depending on conditioning."
Dolphin Head Golf Club, Hilton Head - "Same as Bear Creek; newly public."
Blackmoor Golf Club, Myrtle Beach - "Gary Player design, favored by women club members."
Three Pines Country Club, Woodruff - "Recommended by local traveling women golfers."
Farmstead Golf Links, Calabash, NC (straddles state line) - "Women friendly, great shape, reasonable prices."