Like beauty, bargains in golf are often in the eye of the beholder.
Give an avid player the chance to play Kiawah Island's Ocean Course or Hilton Head's Harbour Town Golf Links, and anything less than $400 for a round might seem like a great deal (and, if available, would be). But for most visitors looking to hit it for 18 holes at a don't-break-the-wallet rate, the reality is something else.
That doesn't mean, though, that great golf at bargain-basement rates isn't possible. In fact, just the opposite: especially if you're willing to get off the beach-and-resort circuit, there are courses galore to play for less than $50.
In fact, for purposes of this story, let's say weekend rounds under $50 - and weekday rates of $30-$40 - are the benchmark. Here's a lineup of options to satisfy your golf itch and your budget.
Shadowmoss Plantation Golf Club, located on historic Highway 61 a dozen miles from downtown, bills itself as Charleston's best golf value. It's a solid Russell Breeden-designed layout.
A bit farther up Highway 61, just south of Summerville, Legend Oaks, has plenty of forests and lakes.
The City of North Charleston operates The Club at Wescott Plantation, a terrific 27-hole facility with a full-service clubhouse and three nines that can challenge every level of player.
In Summerville, The Club at Pine Forest - known locally as "Little Augusta" for similarities to the home of the Masters - has a brilliantly straightforward and challenging design and prices that vary depending on time of year.
The Grand Strand is the home of the vacation golf package, with courses bundling golf, accommodations and food-beverage deals too numerous to list here. The Legends, with five courses, has offers typical of such multi-round bargain packages.
Myrtle Beach National is home to the Arnold Palmer-designed Kings North course, but its two sister courses, South Creek and the West Course (also designed by the Palmer Golf Company), are less pricey than the North Course.
Hilton Head Island
Island West is a Fuzzy Zoeller-designed course that's fun to play and easy on the pocketbook.
Dogwood Hills in nearby Walterboro has a distinguished bloodline - part of the course was designed by legendary architect Donald Ross in 1935 - and bargain-basement prices on weekends.
While the coast has the golf reputation, Columbia and surrounding areas offer plenty of solid daily-fee golf for low prices. Cobblestone Park Golf Club, home to University of South Carolina men's and women's golf team facilities, has 27 holes by P.B. Dye and Lee Janzen.
Oak Hills, designed by former PGA Tour player (and Steve Spurrier roommate at the University of Florida), is a user-friendly layout with hills, forests and water. Across town is the P.B. Dye-designed The Spur at Northwoods.
The Santee-Cooper area town of Manning has another off-the-beaten-path gem in Wyboo Golf Club, a Tom Jackson Signature design with excellent conditioning.
Two of the best deals going are the South Carolina state park golf courses, both designed by Tom Jackson: Hickory Knob, near the town of McCormick in western SC, and Cheraw in Cheraw, SC. Both also have on-site accommodations and other park activities.