Top Golf Courses in South Carolina

Chanticleer course number 5

Ed Jenson
March 27, 2018 - 11:14 am

The Ocean Course, which has staged the 1991 Ryder Cup matches and the 2012 PGA Championship, has again been selected the best golf course in South Carolina in balloting by the South Carolina Golf Course Rating Panel.

The crown jewel of Kiawah Island Golf Resort, the Ocean Course earned the honor for the fourth straight time, edging Sea Pines Resort’s Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island for the top spot.

“As always, there are so many outstanding golf courses in South Carolina that we’re really splitting hairs,” Michael Whitaker, the association’s executive director, said in releasing the Top 50 rankings at the panel’s annual spring meeting Saturday at Orangeburg Country Club.

The panel is composed of 125 golf enthusiasts from throughout the state and represents a diverse range of occupations, handicaps and backgrounds. The organization’s objective is to promote excellence in the state’s golf course design and operations through the competitive rankings, education and public advocacy.

Judging criteria include routing, variety, strategy, equity, memorability, aesthetics and experience. The best courses, public or private, are selected in even-numbered years, and the best public courses are ranked in odd-numbered years.

Designed by Pete Dye and opened for the 1991 Ryder Cup matches, the Ocean Course always ranked among the nation’s most challenging by national publications, and the layout adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean won rave reviews from the elite of professional golf during the 2012 PGA Championship won by Rory McIlroy. The PGA Championship will return to the Ocean Course in 2021.

Harbour Town, which will play host to the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage for the 50th straight year next month, retained second in the 2018 balloting. May River Golf Club at Palmetto Bluff climbed one spot to third and Sage Valley Golf Club (Graniteville) slipped to fourth. Greenville Country Club’s Chanticleer Course remained fifth.

Rounding out the Top 10 are Yeamans Hall Club in Hanahan (sixth), the Secession Golf Club in Beaufort (seventh), Kiawah Island Club’s Cassique Course (eighth), the Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach (ninth) and Long Cove Club at Hilton Head Island (10th). Cassique, 11th in 2016, is the only newcomer to the top 10.

 “With new panel members and renovations or upgrades on a lot of courses, you’re always going to have fluctuations on the list,” Whitaker said. “There are so many good ones in South Carolina that a lot of quality golf courses don’t make the Top 50.”

The Top 10 courses represent the work of some of the game’s greatest architects. Pete Dye fashioned the Ocean Course and Long Cove and, in association with Jack Nicklaus, Harbour Town. Nicklaus designed May River in addition to his Harbour Town credit, and Robert Trent Jones Sr. has Chanticleer and the Dunes Club on the list. Seth Raynor produced Yeamans Hall, Tom Fazio did Sage Valley and Bruce Devlin designed Secession. Tom Watson designed Cassique.

 In addition to Raynor, noted architects from the first half of the 20th century with credits include Alister MacKenzie at Aiken’s Palmetto Golf Club (No. 11) and Donald Ross at Camden Country Club (No. 34).       

Moving into the Top 50 in 2018 are Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love (Hilton Head Island, No. 31), Daniel Island Club’s Ralston Creek Course (No. 39), the Surf Golf & Beach Club (North Myrtle Beach, No. 39), Orangeburg Country Club (No. 43), Grande Dunes Resort Course (Myrtle Beach, No. 44), Barefoot Resort’s Dye Course (North Myrtle Beach, No. 46), TPC of Myrtle Beach (Murrells Inlet, No. 47), Callawassie Island Club (Okatie, No. 49) and Kiawah Island Resort’s Turtle Point Course (No. 50).


South Carolina's Top 50 Golf Courses for 2018

Selected by the South Carolina Golf Course Rating Panel


2018 RANKING COURSE                2016 RANKING

1              Kiawah Island Resort - Ocean Course P  1

2              Sea Pines - Harbour Town Golf Links P   2

3              May River Golf Club (Palmetto Bluff) P  4

4              Sage Valley Golf Club (Graniteville) PR 3

5              Greenville Country Club – Chanticleer Course PR             5

6              Yeamans Hall Club (Hanahan) PR              6

7              Secession Golf Club (Beaufort) PR           8

8              Kiawah Island Club – Cassique Course PR             11

9              The Dunes Golf & Beach Club (Myrtle Beach) P  7

10           Long Cove Club (Hilton Head) PR              9

11           Palmetto Golf Club (Aiken) PR  12

12           Caledonia Golf & Fish Club (Pawleys Island) P   10

13           Cherokee Plantation Golf Club (Yemasee) PR    15

14           Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards (Sunset) PR                18

15           Colleton River Plantation - Nicklaus Course PR  13

16           Kiawah Island Club – River Course PR     21

17           Chechessee Creek Club (Okatie) PR        14

18           Country Club of Charleston PR  17

19           Bulls Bay Golf Club (Awendaw) PR          22

20           Old Tabby Links (Spring Island) PR           16

21           Colleton River Plantation – Dye Course PR          20

22           Cliffs Mountain Park PR                28

23           Musgrove Mill Golf Club PR        23

24           The Golf Club at Briar's Creek (Johns Island) PR 25

25           The Reserve at Lake Keowee (Sunset) PR             27

26           Haig Point Club (Daufauskie Island) PR  19

27           Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation (Little River) P              26

28           Wachesaw Plantation (Murrells Inlet) PR             29

29           Belfair Golf Club - East Course (Bluffton) PR       32

30           Debordieu Club (Georgetown) PR           43

31           Sea Pines – Atlantic Dunes (Hilton Head) P          NR

32           Belfair Golf Club - West Course (Bluffton) PR     33

33           Thornblade Club (Greer) PR        37

34           Camden Country Club PR             34

35           Wild Dunes Resort - Links Course P         48

36           Cliffs at Keowee Falls PR              45

37           The Reserve Club of Pawley's Island PR 35

38           Daniel Island Club – Ralston Creek Course PR     NR

39           Surf Golf and Beach Club PR       NR

40           True Blue Plantation (Pawleys Island) P                42

41           Cliffs at Glassy (Landrum) PR      40

42           Country Club of Spartanburg PR                30

43           Orangeburg Country Club P        NR

44           Grande Dunes Resort Course (Myrtle Beach) P  NR

45           Florence Country Club PR            39

46           Barefoot Resort–Dye Course (N. Myrtle Beach) P             NR

47           TPC of Myrtle Beach (Murrells Inlet) P   NR

48           Berkeley Hall – North Course (Bluffton) PR         34

49           Callawassie Island Club (Okatie) PR        NR

50           Kiawah Island Resort – Turtle Point P     NR


Top Golf Courses By Region


  1 The Dunes Golf & Beach Club (Myrtle Beach)  P

  2 Caledonia Golf & Fish Club (Pawleys Island)  P

  3 Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation (Little River)  P

  4 Wachesaw Plantation (Murrells Inlet)  PR

  5 Debordieu Club (Georgetown)  PR

  6 The Reserve Club of Pawleys Island  PR

  7 Surf Golf & Beach Club PR

  8 True Blue Plantation (Pawleys Island)  P

  9 Grande Dunes Resort Course P

10 Barefoot Resort – Dye Course P


  1 The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort  P

  2 Harbour Town Golf Links at The Sea Pines Resort (Hilton Head Island)  P

  3 May River Golf Club (Palmetto Bluff)  P

  4 Yeamans Hall Club (Hanahan)  PR

  5 Secession Golf Club (Beaufort)  PR

  6 Kiawah Island Club – Cassique Course  PR

  7 Long Cove Club (Hilton Head)  PR

  8 Cherokee Plantation (Yemasee)  PR

  9 Colleton River Plantation - Nicklaus Course (Bluffton)  PR

10 Kiawah Island Club – River Course  PR


  1 Sage Valley Golf Club (Graniteville)  PR

  2 Palmetto Golf Club (Aiken)  PR

  3 Camden Country Club  PR

  4 Orangeburg Country Club  PR

  5 Florence Country Club  PR

  6 Columbia Country Club PR

  7 The Reserve at Woodside Plantation (Aiken) PR

  8 Forest Lake Club (Columbia) PR

  9 Aiken Golf Club P

10 Mt Vintage Golf Club PR


  1 Greenville Country Club – Chanticleer Course  PR

  2 Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards (Sunset)  PR

  3 Cliffs at Mountain Park (Travelers Rest)  PR

  4 Musgrove Mill Golf Club (Clinton)  PR

  5 The Reserve at Lake Keowee (Sunset)  PR

  6 Thornblade Club (Greer)  PR

  7 Cliffs at Keowee Falls (Salem)  PR

  8 Cliffs at Glassy PR

  9 Country Club of Spartanburg  PR

10 Furman University Golf Course P

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