Kiawah Island Golf Resort (The Ocean Course)

Kiawah Island Golf Resort (The Ocean Course) – Played 2012

  • Rankings: Golf Digest #21, Golf Digest Public #4, Golf Magazine #25, Golf Magazine Public #5
  • Location: 1000 Ocean Course Drive, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
  • Year: 1991
  • Architect: Pete Dye
  • Course Access: Resort
  • Walking Rules: Carts & Caddies Available

Score Card Information:

  • Tournament: 7,356 yards, Par 72, 77.3 Rating/144 Slope
  • Ocean: 6,779 yards, Par 72, 73.6 Rating/138 Slope
  • Dye: 6,475 yards, Par 72, 72.0 Rating/134 Slope
  • Kiawah: 6,202 yards, Par 72, 70.9 Rating/132 Slope
  • Carolina: 5,327 yards, Par 72, 72.7 Rating/124 Slope

Late in 2012 I got a chance to play The Ocean Course with a good friend who caddies there and two of his coworkers.  This was a great group and I never had to read any putts!

The Ocean Course has a reputation for being a brute, many times being atop most difficult courses lists.  It has also hosted major tournaments including the 1991 Ryder Cup, 2007 Senior PGA Championship, and 2012 PGA Championship.  It is so famous it has even debuted on the big screen in The Legend of Bagger Vance.

The winds definitely play a part in the course.  Dye apparently designed two course in one for winds from the east and the west.  There are 10 seaside holes, which according to the course website is the most in the Northern Hemisphere.  Originally, the course was meant to play among the dunes, but Pete’s wife Alice suggested raising the holes to get views of the sea.  Unfortunately for the golfers, this exposed the course to the brutal winds.

The resort is apparently world class.  I have not stayed there, but I walked around some of the property and it looked great.


Now on to the course tour!  We decided to play the Ocean tees which would play 6,779 yards and par 72.  Playing at sea-level and temperatures in the 50’s it certainly seemed longer.  Below is a picture of the Ocean tee markers.  I have also added a slideshow at the end of the post.  I updated my old posts for slideshows as well.  Enjoy!

OC Ocean TeeHole 1 – 375 yards – Par 4

The first shot of the day calls for some precision, but you don’t necessarily have to hit the big dog.  Avoid the hazard up the left side.

OC 1-1The second shot has to navigate a greenside waste bunker, but is pretty straightforward other than that.

OC 1-2The green has a little ridge through it, which you can see just before the ball on the right in the photo below.

OC 1-3Hole 2 – 528 yards – Par 5

This is a tough looking tee shot, but unless you hit it 350 there is plenty of room in the fairway.  No need to get bold and take on the left corner.  Leave that to Rory.

OC 2-1Hole 3 – 367 yards – Par 4

The tee shot here is also visually demanding, but there is more room than it appears.

OC 3-1The approach shot plays to a raised green so make sure you have the right distance.

OC 3-4Hole 4 – 432 yards – Par 4

The camera makes this carry look longer than it is, but a good drive is still needed since it’s a longer par 4.  You can see the players in the fairway in the distance.

OC 4-1The green has some humps and bumps guarding it, but the putting surface only has some undulation.  If you can get it on in two, you have a good shot at birdie.

OC 4-3Hole 5 – 185 yards – Par 3

This shot required some focus on alignment.  The green is in the distance at the middle of the waste bunker.

OC 5-1Below is a photo of the green.

OC 5-2Hole 6 – 377 yards – Par 4

This is a good mid-length hole.  You can challenge the waste bunker up the left side depending on how far you hit it.  I knew exactly which way to go, the benefit of playing with three caddies.

OC 6-1The green is open in the front with the only real trouble being left and short right.

OC 6-2The green complex has large mounds on the left and right sides and the front left.  They worked as a funnel towards the pin.  I know because they helped me get my only birdie of the day!

OC 6-3Hole 7 – 505 yards – Par 5

This hole is right in front of you.  A big drive down the middle is all the strategy you need.

OC 7-1The second shot is open.  You must avoid the bunker up the left and the trees on the right.

OC 7-2The green doesn’t have too much slope as seen in the photo below.

OC 7-4Hole 8 – 170 yards – Par 3

I didn’t get a tee shot photo, but this is a chip from the right of the green.  The green is raised and has all closely mown chipping areas on the right side.

OC 8-2Hole 9 – 415 yards – Par 4

This shot felt a little tight.  Left is no good, so take it right at the players in the photo.

OC 9-1The second shot can play long into the green protected by bunkers on the left.

OC 9-2The green has a good bit of undulation, but the pin was in a flat spot on this day.

OC 9-3Hole 10 – 378 yards – Par 4

The tee shot plays over a deep waste bunker.  A good line is at the bunkers you can see in the photo below.

OC 10-1The course was not the only pretty thing on the property.  Just take a look at this house.  Not a bad place to lay your head.

OC 10-2The green on 10 is protected by a bunker in front and around the left side.  Short and right of the green is the only real bailout area.

OC 10-4I should have followed my own advice!  Here is a shot from the bunker left of the green.

OC 10-5Hole 11 – 521 yards – Par 5

This par 5 has trouble all down the right so pick a confident line and rip one.

OC 11-1The approach shot plays to a raised green with no bunkers close to it.

OC 11-3The green surface is one of the flatter ones on the course as seen in the photo below.

OC 11-4Hole 12 – 420 yards – Par 4

The tee shot here plays at the house with the green roof in the distance.

OC 12-1The approach shot features a water hazard to the right of the green with Dye’s signature railroad ties.

OC 12-2This green has a little bit of slope on the left side of the surface.

OC 12-3Hole 13 – 371 yards – Par 4

The right side features more trouble on this tee shot.  Your line depends on how far you want to carry it, but the building that looks like an upside down funnel is a good neutral line.

OC 13-2Similar to the last hole there is trouble right.  You need to be precise, however, because the left and long bunkers are not great spots either.

OC 13-4Hole 14 – 171 yards – Par 3

Another raised green par 3 here.  Any missed green is going to require a huge uphill chip, but the left bunker is really difficult.

OC 14-1Hole 15 – 391 yards – Par 4

Just a normal hole here except for the ocean viewed on the right.  A good drive at the clubhouse in the distance is the best play.

OC 15-1This photo is from the right rough.  The green is protected by bunkers and some heather.

OC 15-4The green has some contour, but mostly around the edges.

OC 15-6Hole 16 – 555 yards – Par 5

Just a big par 5 here with the clubhouse again providing the best line.  The wife got another good action shot here, per usual.

OC 16-1This is not position A.

OC 16-5The green has a ridge running near the flag and is a big complex.

OC 16-6Hole 17 – 197 yards – Par 3

This hole is a visual master.  The only miss here is short left or left.  It’s definitely a hole for a fader, but hitting a little draw to the front left side is a fine play.

OC 17-1The green has a knob front left and some ridges in the middle and back of the surface.  The front pin position rendered those irrelevant.

OC 17-3Hole 18 – 421 yards – Par 4

This one went a little right!  A line left of the clubhouse is good for the normal length hitters.

OC 18-1The approach plays to the right of the three flags.  Some pot bunkers and heather must be avoided, but the green is relatively open.

OC 18-2The clubhouse was a beautiful building.  We walked around inside and it was just as good in there with lots of memorabilia and meeting rooms.

OC Clubhouse 1See what I mean!  This is the signatures of all the competitors in the 2012 PGA.

OC PGA Competitors

Our time at Kiawah was really memorable.  The course lived up to its billing as being tough, but I thought it played fair.  We didn’t have a great deal of wind which definitely helped the playability.  We played it about four months after the PGA and it made me appreciate even more how well Rory played to win.  The course called for shots curved both ways and a good short game when you missed the greens.  Overall it was a great championship course with no gimmicky tricks, just solid hole after solid hole.

It’s a great area for a buddies trip or a weekend away with the family.  The resort really gives you options.  There are also many other courses in the vicinity.

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One thought on “Kiawah Island Golf Resort (The Ocean Course)

  1. Pingback: Tiger Golf Traveler December Newsletter | Tiger Golf Traveler

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