After several years of coming in second to The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort, The Sea Pines Resort's Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, was named the best among Lowcountry golf courses in the 2019 "Top Courses You Can Play" as named by the SC Golf Course Ratings Panel.
The much-heralded layout is the site of the annual (since 1969) RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, South Carolina's only annual PGA TOUR event.
Like The Sea Pines Resort, all of Kiawah's courses, including Turtle Point (designed by Jack Nicklaus), Osprey Point (Tom Fazio) and Cougar Point (Gary Player) also were selected among the top courses. Kiawah has hosted such events as the 2007 Senior PGA Championship, the 2012 PGA Championship and will again host the PGA Championship in 2021.
The Golf Course Ratings Panel, made up of more than 100 media, golf business and player members from across the state, has rated The Ocean Course as South Carolina's top layout for more than a decade in its every-other-year "Top 50 Courses in South Carolina," which includes public-access and private courses. The "Top Courses You Can Play" is the list for weekend golfers and vacationers.
"Word-of-mouth" of another type has boosted both The Ocean Course and Harbour Town, with the Ocean Course earning praise from PGA TOUR players during the 2012 PGA, while Harbour Town was rated the second-favorite annual stop by the TOUR players, behind only Augusta National. Such endorsements usually lure tourists and weekend players.
The Ocean Course was a top vote-getter in the Charleston area, along with Wild Dunes Resort (Isle of Palms), while Harbour Town and Bluffton's May River Club at Palmetto Bluff were most popular in the Lowcountry and Resort Islands. Best among the Myrtle Beach/Grand Strand's nearly 100 courses are Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and True Blue Plantation, both in Pawleys Island, and North Myrtle Beach's Tidewater.
No surprise, the coast dominates the "Top Courses You Can Play," with eight Charleston courses, five from Hilton Head Island-Bluffton and 13 from the Grand Strand making the rankings - or 26 of the 32 named.
Two Upstate courses - The Walker Course in Clemson and Furman University Golf Course in Greenville - also made the list. In the Midlands and Pee Dee are Florence's Country Club of South Carolina, North Augusta's Mount Vintage Plantation and Orangeburg Country Club.
Orangeburg and one of Myrtle Beach's regular award-winners, The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, are actually private courses. But because both allow outside play (OCC through Santee golf packages Golf Santee and Santee-Cooper Golf; The Dunes Club via partner hotels in Myrtle Beach), the two are included in the "You Can Play" rankings."