April 11th, 2024

Conquer the Classics: A Guide to Kiawah Island's Legendary Golf Courses

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Located 25 miles southwest of Charleston, South Carolina, Kiawah Island is a private beach and golf resort. The long, picturesque stretch of land has a unique physique and a rich history. Kiawah Island is ten miles of immaculate oceanfront beach that is complemented by a river, pristine marshlands, meandering lagoons, and maritime forests.

Because it features five legendary golf courses, it's naturally on the bucket list of many golf aficionados. Kiawah Island Golf Resort lies at the heart of this amazing destination, where guests can enjoy world-class accommodations and amenities. If we've sparked your interest in exploring the championship golf courses at Kiawah Island, here is what you need to know about each.

The Ocean Course, a True Test of Skill

Designed by Pete and Alice Dye in 1991, this golf course has hosted iconic championships, engraving its reputation as one of the world's most renowned courses. The Ocean Course has the largest number of seaside holes in the Northern Hemisphere, with ten hugging the Atlantic Ocean and eight running parallel to those. One noteworthy aspect of this course is that, from one round to the next, you can experience up to an eight-club difference on holes, depending on the wind's strength and direction. The Ocean Course is a windswept coastal layout playing along a narrow and sandy area on the east end of the island.

Considered by many to be the first golf course designed for a specific event – the 1991 Ryder Cup – this linksland-meets-lagoons layout might be Pete Dye's most diabolical design. Every hole is edged by sawgrass, the greens have tricky slopes, and every bunker merges into bordering sand dunes. The architect took his wife's advice and perched fairways and greens so players could view the Atlantic surf. Remarkably, a 50-year-old Phil Mickelson became the oldest man to win a major title at the 2021 PGA Championship that took place at the Ocean Course, which, at 7,876 yards, was the longest course in major championship history.

Cougar Point Course, a Must-Play at the Resort

After reopening in October 2017, this golf course won over players with its dramatic marsh vistas and superior playability. Cougar Point Course wanders in and out of Kiawah Island's scenic marshes with constant but pleasant distractions from the abundant exotic birdlife. Although other courses on the island are celebrated for their oceanside view, this is a relative rarity in its views out to the Kiawah River. Cougar Point Course is a very enjoyable design that is long enough to be a challenge without being overwhelming.

Cougar Point Course was built in 1976 by famous architect Gary Player. Embellishing the marsh vistas and a playability aspect that attracts golfers of all skill levels, this course has been met with rave reviews. It features drivable par-4s, while the par-5s reward aggressive behavior. The par-3s are known to be the most difficult, pushing players to pay attention to club selection.

Do you think of planning a golf vacation to this unique destination with your friends or family? If so, check out two of our best Kiawah Island golf packages below!

Fore by the Shore - Kiawah Island

Starting from $176 per golfer per night (Low Season)

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»Fore by the Shore - Kiawah Island

Ultimate Kiawah Island Resort

Starting from $254 per golfer per night (Low Season)

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»Ultimate Kiawah Island Resort

Oak Point Course, Favoring a Thinking Approach Over Raw Power

As the proud recipient of the Charleston Golf Course Owners Association Course of the Year in 2019, this course delivers a superior playing surface and greater strategic challenges through a refreshing design. More than any other golf course at the resort, Oak Point Course has gone through dramatic changes over the last few years, which enhanced both the quality of the game and the overall guest experience. The course is a shotmakers course, so strategy will be rewarded over physical strength.

Oak Point Course is a Clyde Johnson design. Located on the mainland as you are heading to the resort, this layout features open fairways, gently sloping greens, and yardages that make it extremely playable for golfers of any skill level. Established on the remnants of an old cotton and indigo plantation, the architect routed the layout around well-placed ponds and finished with a scenic view of the river.

Turtle Point Course, Challenging Players to Use Their Mind Instead of Their Muscles

Built in 1981 by Jack Nicklaus, this golf course opened as the resort's second course. The architect returned to the course in 2016 to carry out an extensive renovation, which included replacing all the fairways with Paspalum, a sticky, salt-tolerant turf alternative that first came to prominence at the Ocean Course. This Kiawah Island course now features increased shot variety and requires strategic play with multiple hidden water hazards. With three oceanfront holes, this Jack Nicklaus design features narrow fairways, approachable greens, and strategically placed lagoons that require accuracy and a carefully thought-out approach to each shot.

Rated 48th on Golf Digest's 100 Greatest Public Golf Course List, Turtle Point Course is a low-profile golf course that delivers a high-caliber experience to players. Because of its traditional design, many of the players visiting Kiawah Island would rather play this golf course than any of the others at the resort. Turtle Point Course experiences plenty of wind, which is true for all golf courses on Kiawah Island. The wind blows in various directions throughout the day, so local knowledge is essential in dealing with these phantom winds.

Are you looking for the perfect Kiawah Island golf package? Golf Trip Junkie will gladly customize your golf vacation so that you can enjoy a memorable experience at this destination. You can also choose from the awesome golf packages below!


Kiawah Island Ocean's 3

Starting from $256 per golfer per night (Low Season)

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»Kiawah Island Ocean's 3

Killer Kiawah Island

Starting from $175 per golfer per night (Low Season)

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»Killer Kiawah Island

Osprey Point Course, Known for Its Playability and Natural Beauty

As a championship golf course with a world-class layout that was thoroughly renovated in 2014 under the direction of Tom Fazio, Osprey Point Course is one of the most popular courses at the resort. The course boasts a wide variety of holes, each posing its own unique challenges and beauty, which are bound to make for an enjoyable round. Since Fazio's design was for a members-only type of golf course, Osprey Point Course is very playable for the average golfer. It features generous landing areas and several forced carries.

Designed in 1988, Osprey Point Course measures over 6,900 yards from the back tees, with five tee boxes to play from. The signature hole is the par-3 11th. Golfers will face a challenging tee shot requiring a large carry to the green. The surrounding water hazard and splendid oak trees make this a visually stunning hole.

The Takeaway

At Kiawah Island Golf Resort, you can enjoy five-star accommodations, world-class resort amenities, award-winning recreational activities, and, most importantly, some of the most respected golf courses in the country. So, if you're down for a unique, memorable golfing experience, gather your friends or family and get ready to put your game to the test!