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!
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.
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.
The tee shot here is also visually demanding, but there is more room than it appears.
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.
This shot required some focus on alignment. The green is in the distance at the middle of the waste bunker.
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.
This hole is right in front of you. A big drive down the middle is all the strategy you need.
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.
This shot felt a little tight. Left is no good, so take it right at the players in the photo.
The tee shot plays over a deep waste bunker. A good line is at the bunkers you can see in the photo below.
This par 5 has trouble all down the right so pick a confident line and rip one.
The tee shot here plays at the house with the green roof in the distance.
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.
Another raised green par 3 here. Any missed green is going to require a huge uphill chip, but the left bunker is really difficult.
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.
Just a big par 5 here with the clubhouse again providing the best line. The wife got another good action shot here, per usual.
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.
This one went a little right! A line left of the clubhouse is good for the normal length hitters.
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.