Explore the Carolinas: In the two states to our south, you’ll find beaches, cities, and mountain towns that make for idyllic vacation spots. Before you pack the car and head down I-95 this summer, get the lowdown on some new-to-you locations in North and South Carolina — and find out what’s new this year at your old favorites.
There’s golfing, and then there’s golfing in South Carolina. More than 350 courses dot the state from the coast to the mountains. There are designs by greats Arnold Palmer, Pete Dye, Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Jackson, and each course offers distinctive options to NoVA golfers.
“As someone who worked at Kiawah Island Golf Resort during high school and college and played golf throughout the state over the years, there are multiple pockets of impressive opportunities,” says Arlington media consultant Damon M. Banks, who grew up in Charleston.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort in the Charleston area boasts five public golf courses, including The Ocean Course, which hosted the 1991 bar-setting Ryder Cup, and Cougar Point, where you’ll play against a marshland backdrop. Recent renovations to the award-winning property include the addition of four visitor cottages beside the Ocean Course clubhouse and a new clubhouse for Cougar Point.
Other shoreside aces are Wild Dunes’ Links and Harbor courses on Isle of Palms, a barrier island 12 miles from Charleston. (The locale is ideal for its varied visitor accommodations, like the namesake resort and vacation rentals.) Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head is an annual PGA Tour stop and features an 18th hole with a distracting view of the lighthouse and the Calibogue Sound. (Your swing should position your ball for the landing area that juts into the water.)
Farther up the coast is Myrtle Beach, which has 70-plus courses and has earned the title of “Golf Capital of the World.” A Banks favorite? Dunes Golf and Beach Club. “It caters to those wanting incredible conditions and breathtaking views,” he says. Alas, it’s private, so without a membership, you’ll have to stick to the public offerings — though they’re just as impressive. The True Blue Golf Club “promises to challenge any golfer with … an insane amount of (very playable) sand on every hole,” adds Banks.
Head inland for skill-testing flat and hilly courses. Mount Vintage Golf Club in North Augusta, designed by Jackson, features 27 holes across various elevations with demanding downhill and uphill shots. Two other Jackson-designed courses are in the South Carolina State Parks system: Cheraw (a certified Audubon International Wildlife Sanctuary) and Hickory Knob.
Upstate, play along the Blue Ridge escarpment and at a university course. The Furman Golf Club in Greenville is where LPGA stars like Beth Daniel honed their skills. It’s a challenging course with woods and water — plus a par-4 finishing hole.
The par-72 Walker Course at Clemson University has an elevated blind-shot green on the ninth hole. The iconic Tiger Paw 17th hole has four bunkers forming its signature design. With all that, you’re practically guaranteed a great round.
This story originally ran in our May issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine.