The South Carolina Golf Rating Panel, of which your editor is a member, has published its golf course rankings for 2012. Some of the greatest moves up the list since it was last published two years ago were made by golf courses in residential communities.
Topping the list is the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, which will host this year’s PGA Championship in August. Although no homes interrupt the sweeping vistas of dunes and ocean from the Ocean Course, you can live within an easy cart drive of the clubhouse (if you can afford the multi-million dollar homes). Ocean Course designer Pete Dye copped another nod from the Panel when his Harbour Town links, which he designed with Jack Nicklaus, grabbed the #2 spot this year. The little known Sage Valley, hailed among golf architecture cognoscenti, was rated third best, just ahead of the May River Club, the Nicklaus layout at the lush Palmetto Bluff Resort, the highest-end golf community in the Hilton Head area. The Chanticleer (#5) at the Greenville Country Club and the Dunes Club in Myrtle Beach (#6) are adjacent to mature housing communities but aren’t as connected to the real estate as they would be in more modern developments (call this "unplanned" development). No homes intrude on #s 7, 9 & 10 on the list -- Yeaman’s Hall, Secession and Palmetto Club, respectively. For three decades, though, Hilton Head Island’s Long Cove, #8 on the list, has been at the heart of an elite community.
The Tom Fazio-designed Wachesaw Plantation in Murrells Inlet, SC, just south of Myrtle Beach, made the SC Golf Rating Panel list at #32.
It was good to see golf courses in planned developments garner favor with panelists. The beautifully conditioned Reserve Club at Pawleys Island moved up 11 spots this year to #35; residents of the surrounding community have access to a marina and beach club, in addition to the golf club. Members of the Greg Norman-designed Reserve Club course also have privileges at other McConnell Group private golf courses in the Carolinas. TPC of Myrtle Beach, which is actually located in Murrells Inlet, made the most dramatic improvement, leaping from 66th to 38th in the rankings. A huge development with reasonably priced real estate called Prince Creek bumps up against much of the TPC property. Also moving up the list was the Barefoot Resort’s Davis Love course, one of four layouts at the Myrtle Beach complex.
We were pleased to see Colleton River Plantation’s two golf courses –- the Nicklaus at #18 and the Dye at #21 -- rank so highly on the list. We are looking forward to playing the two layouts there a week from now during a Rating Panel outing.
For the full list of the 50 best golf courses in South Carolina, visit the SC Golf Rating Panel web site.