Best Summer Golf Destinations: The South

1 of 10 Courtesy of Pinehurst
1. Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, NC; 910-295-6811, The Sandhills region of North Carolina, 70 minutes southwest of Raleigh/Durham is studded with wonderful public plays. Still, there’s only one Pinehurst No. 2, and it’s worth every penny to say you’ve played it. Fresh off a Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw restoration in time to host the 2014 U.S. Open, No. 2 dishes out the fiercest test of chipping in golf, amid the tall longleaf pines and enhanced sandy waste areas that have restored the strategic challenge to Donald Ross’ original specs. Two other Ross designs are available to resort guests but second choice for many is Tom Fazio’s No. 8. It can’t approach fabled No. 2 for history and lore, but it’s undeniable that for sheer beauty, variety and memorable holes, No. 8 holds its own. Lakes, wetlands, an abandoned sand pit and a man-made dune ridge add to the fun, but it’s the huge, fast crowned greens that can send scores soaring.
2 of 10 Courtesy of Kiawah Island
2. The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort, Kiawah Island, SC; 843-768-6000, This 10,000-acre coastal resort serves up ten miles of private beach, 30 miles of marsh-lined, forested paths and access to nearby Charleston, but unquestionably, golf is the top draw, notably the Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course, which plays host to the PGA Championship this summer. It’s not quite the beast that terrorized “War by the Shore” Ryder Cup players in 1991, but it’s still a beautiful brute. Accommodations take several forms, but don’t miss the Sanctuary hotel. Its twin, curving staircases off the lobby ooze “Gone With the Wind” noblesse, but the marble flooring and huge picture windows that offer Atlantic vistas are pure modern beauties.
3 of 10 Courtesy of Caledonia
3. Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, Pawleys Island, S.C.; 843-237-3675, The late Mike Strantz was an artist with a bulldozer and at Caledonia, he created a layout worthy of a museum exhibit. Gnarled live oaks frame the rippled fairways and the course winds along the Waccamaw River for much of its journey. Caledonia measures just 6,526 yards from the tips, but they’re replete with wetlands, vast waste bunkers and contoured greens, which explains the sturdy slope of 140. The superb closer is a 383-yard, par-4 that edges the river and old rice fields, with a green fronted by water and backdropped by the Antebellum-style clubhouse.
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5 of 10 Courtesy of Greenbrier
5. The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.; 304-536-1110, The Greenbrier hotel is an enormous Georgian structure with tall white columns, yet it fits comfortably into a landscape of trees, flowers and gentle mountain slopes. A truly dizzying array of activities await, including such unusual fare as sporting clays, bowling and first-run movies, but with three courses, including the Jack Nicklaus-designed Greenbrier (a past Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup venue) and C.B. Macdonald’s Old White (now a TPC course and current host to the PGA Tour), golf is king.
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8 of 10 Courtesy of Sea Pines
8. Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, S.C.; 843-363-8385, As iconic golf landmarks go, few can compare with the candy cane-striped lighthouse that backdrops the 18th green at Harbour Town. With the Calibogue Sound looming to the left and OB lurking right, Harbour Town’s home hole is one of the game’s greatest. Just following in the footsteps of past champions Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Davis Love III is reason enough to make this a must-play. Nearly as captivating is its sibling, Heron Point by Pete Dye, a sturdy, handsome test that was recently softened for enhanced playabilty. Add in the Ocean course, family playground, beach, horses and bicycling and you have a superior summertime package.
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