Golf is hardly in short supply in America. No country, in fact, is home to more courses.
The USA has a grand total of 15,372 places to play, representing around 45% of the global total and more than six times the country with the second highest number of courses, Japan.
Visitors, therefore, are truly spoilt for choice and have the pleasant dilemma of choosing where to go. The competition is stiff and the selection exceptional but South Carolina takes some beating,
The ‘Palmetto State’, so-called because of the official state tree, the Sabal Palmetto, South Carolina is located on the eastern seaboard of the US, bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the south and west by Georgia, and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean.
It is the 24th most populous of America’s 50 states and contains over 360 magnificent golf courses, some of which are rightly regarded as amongst the best in the world.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort, for example, is home to five exceptional 18-hole layouts. The Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course is perhaps the most famous. It opened in 1991 and, the same year, was the scene of a dramatic USA Ryder Cup victory over a Bernard Gallacher-led Europe.
The course also played host to the World Cup of Golf in 1997 and 2004, the Senior PGA Championship in 2007 and Rory’s McIlroy’s PGA Championship win in 2012. The year’s final major is scheduled to return to the course in 2021.
The Jack Nicklaus-designed Turtle Point is also worth checking out, as are the other three courses at the resort: Osprey Point, designed by Tom Fazio; Clyde Johnston’s Oak Point; and the Gary Player-designed Cougar Point.
Hilton Head Island, meanwhile, is another golfer’s paradise in South Carolina. A resort town located on an island of the same name in Beaufort County, it is just 95 miles south-west of Charleston, the oldest and second largest city in the state.
There are more than 20 quality layouts scattered around Hilton Head Island, including the world-renowned Harbour Town. The host venue for the annual RBC Heritage event on the PGA Tour, it is instantly recognised around the world by the famous white and red lighthouse that sits behind its 18th green overlooking Calibogue Sound. Rated as one of the top 20 courses in the USA, it is not to be missed.
Harbour Town is one of three courses that makes up the Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island. The Ocean Course is the oldest layout on the island and is particularly memorable for its ocean-facing 15th hole, whilst Heron Point is a stunning new development on the site of the resort’s original Sea Marsh Golf Course, which was completely transformed in 2007 by Pete Dye.
Elsewhere on Hilton Head Island, Palmetto Dunes Resort and its three award-winning layouts tick every box for visiting golfers, whilst Oyster Reef, Planter’s Row and Hilton Head National are other ‘must play’ locations.
Myrtle Beach completes South Carolina’s trio of magnificent golf locations. It is located in the centre of a large and continuous stretch of beach known as the Grand Strand in the north-east of the state and attracts an estimated 14 million visitors each year.
A large proportion of them are lured by the promise of great golf at the likes of the Barefoot Golf Resort. A spectacular destination, it has four courses for you to choose from, each one designed by a famous name: Greg Norman, Davis Love III, Tom Fazio and Pete Dye.
The Norman Course is particularly good fun, with seven holes laid out next to the Intracoastal Waterway, a 3,000-moile inland waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts.
Caledonia, True Blue and the Dunes Club should also make it onto any Myrtle Beach golf itinerary.
Off the course, you should put aside time to sample the beautiful cities of Columbia and Charleston. The latter is the home of the USS Yorktown, which makes for a fascinating tour. Further inland, the Caesars Head State Park provides a multitude of photo opportunities and dramatic landscapes to explore, whilst the Dupont Planetarium in Aiken is a great place to explore the night sky and the deepest reaches of outer space.
America truly has everything a tourist could want. For golfers, though, nowhere delivers quite like South Carolina.