Doin' the Charleston

Wednesday November 21st, 2007
<strong>Pete's Peril:</strong> The 15th at Kiawah's Ocean Course

Some of the most storied skirmishes of the Revolutionary and Civil wars were fought in Charleston, S.C., though golfers will also remember it as the home of the less bloody but rightfully infamous "War by the Shore," the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course. The city is known for its graceful architecture and tasty Lowcountry eats, and the golf holds its own, too. Here's your sampler menu for Southern comfort.

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Kiawah Island
7,356 yards, par 72
Greens fee: $230-$320 843-768-2121,
Architect: Pete Dye (1991)

Kiawah's Ocean Course deservedly earned its reputation as the toughest resort course in the U.S., and that reputation has been hard to shake, even though in the past 16 years Dye has twice softened the layout. It's still a great course — ranked No. 28 on our Top 100 Courses in the U.S. — but just not as perilous a challenge as once upon a time. You'll still be blown away by the Ocean Course's lethal, wind-whipped blend of tidal-marsh carries, scrub-topped dunes and wildly flowing greens. Today's layout plays much fairer, though it remains frighteningly difficult. The closing stretch along the ocean is the epitome of beauty and brawn, though now at least you can lick your wounds in a stunning new clubhouse.

Oak Point Golf Club at Kiawah Island
Golf Resort Johns Island
6,701 yards, par 72
Greens fee: $83-$133 843-266-4100,
Architect: Clyde Johnston (1989)

Kiawah's least-heralded track is situated off-island, and it's neither in the same vicinity nor in the same league as its four siblings. But Oak Point is significantly less expensive, and a solid option for those looking to mix trophy courses with more affordable alternatives. Alligators litter the pond-strewn first hole and set the tone for a surprisingly demanding, hazard-filled round, highlighted by the awkward but gorgeous par-4 home hole that plays alongside Haulover Creek.

The Links at Stono Ferry
6,701 yards, par 72
Greens fee: $51-$75 843-763-1817,
Architect: Ron Garl (1989)

The best bargain in town is dotted with relics from the Revolutionary War. A pleasant if unexciting front nine meanders through the forest, but things perk up a lot thanks to some scenic holes on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Wild Dunes Resort (Links Course)
Isle of Palms
6,396 yards, par 70
Greens fee: $135-$165 843-886-2180,
Architect: Tom Fazio (1980)

Erosion has trimmed Wild Dunes' beachside par-5 closing hole to a par 3, and a few too many condos mar the once pristine dune landscape, but it's still a delight to play one of Tom Fazio's earliest solo designs. This lowprofile layout weaves through dense Lowcountry foliage and reaches a climax with its two final holes — or one-and-a-half, thanks to erosion — set alongside the Atlantic Ocean.

Where to stay
The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, a Golf Magazine Gold Medal property, is one of the finest hotels in the U.S. (800-654-2924, The Sanctuary Championship Golf Package includes lodging, breakfast, three rounds of golf (one on the Ocean Course) and a dinner at any resort restaurant (surcharge for dining at the Ocean Room). Rates start at $320 per person,per night, double occupancy.

The best bet in-town is Charleston Place (843-722-4900,, where rooms start at $259.

Where to eat
For a night on the town, you can't go wrong at Charleston Grill (843-577-4522,, where the live jazz is matched only by the imaginative twists on Lowcountry favorites.

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