Updated February 2024 to update booking information.
When I think of South Carolina, of course the first thing that comes to mind is golf. You know else I imagine though? A lazy Sunday drive in the country, windows down, listening to James Taylor’s Carolina in My Mind. Ok, maybe that’s a little too mushy for this article and audience. But can you blame me? I don’t blame you.
Moving on. Let’s stick to golf. I’ve played some golf in South Carolina, but it’s been a while. Since you guys have proven so knowledgeable and willing to help us out, I did what I always do and turned to you for help. Together, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best public courses in South Carolina.
Harbour Town Golf Links
Chances are you’ve seen Harbour Town on television. The PGA Tour shows up here every year the week after the Masters. You remember, right? The course with the red and white club house behind the 18th green?
You can play this course too. I’ve played it once and it was one of the most enjoyable rounds of my life.
This is a narrow track that twists and turns through the pines until you get to the last two holes.
Hole 18 is one of the most iconic par fours in golf. The fairway is so wide you could land a 747 airplane on it. Swing for the fences. The second shot is a mid to long iron over the salt marsh to a green that’s exposed and dried out by the prevailing coastal winds. Make par here and it’s a great way to cap off a wonderful day.
The Walker Course
Some of the best golf courses in the country are University courses. It makes sense. Usually, these courses are owned and operated by the school. Let’s face it, a great golf course doesn’t hurt when it comes to attracting students, donors, etc.
That’s exactly the case at The Walker Course. This track is home to the University of Clemson.
The course gives you a little bit of everything. Long holes, short holes, plenty of variety.
The last five holes are special though. They border the expansive Hartwell Lake and are as beautiful as they are challenging.
Heron Point by Pete Dye
Heron Point is a classic Pete Dye design in every sense of the word. Intimidating sight lines, lots of bulkhead hazards, white sand bunkers, and mounding throughout.
There’s also a lot of risk and reward. That’s just how Dye likes it. If you hit a great shot, you’ll be rewarded. Should you miss, expect to pay dearly.
Most Dye courses are intimidating for the average player. Heron Point is no exception. The good news is that there are seven sets of tees to choose from. No matter your handicap, you can play this golf course.
For stay and play options, it doesn’t get any better than Sea Pines Resort which this course is a part of.
Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III
The second course at Sea Pines Resort is Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III.
This track has received the prestigious honor of being named the National Golf Course Owners Association “Course of the Year.”
Atlantic Dunes is a wonderful mixture of seaside and Lowcountry forest golf. Many holes are along the shore and afford wide vistas of the ocean. Much of the course also resides just inland in the quiet whispers of native pines.
A well-balanced round that’s challenging yet fun to play.
Country Club of South Carolina
Another track with its state in its name, my favorite. Of course, I’ve played here and I absolutely love it.
A classic design that’s steeped in history, this track is meant for shot makers. Holes dogleg both ways so you’ll have to shape shots off the tee. Approaches into the green need to be controlled to get it close. If you miss the green on the short side, good luck getting it up and down.
This is thinking man’s golf at it’s finest.
If you have a chance, I suggest playing a couple rounds as it takes while to learn this course’s many nuances.
Mount Vintage Golf Club
Legendary architect Tom Jackson designed 27 memorable holes at Mount Vintage.
Built into the hill country of the western part of the state, this course’s topography is one-of-a-kind.
While each nine has its own distinct features and characteristics, all three blend seamlessly together.
Champion G12 Bermuda greens run true year around and have less grain than other strains. The fairways are Bermuda 419 carpets that play firm and fast.
I’ve yet to make it to this property, but our readers have nothing but good things to say.
The Links at Stoney Point
Heralded as the best golf course in upstate South Carolina, the Links at Stoney Point is another venerable Tom Jackson design.
Links courses are hard to come by in South Carolina. This course is a good one though.
Playing conditions are firm and fast. Strategically placed bunkers swallow up errant shots. Closely mown areas around the greens allow you to bump the ball along the ground should you choose.
When you’re finished with your round, have a bite to eat in Bermuda’s Restaurant. The cuisine is delightful and locally sourced.
Edgewater Golf Club
One of finest courses in the South Carolina countryside is Edgewater Golf Club.
Since opening in 2008, this track has garnered a reputation for being one of the most difficult courses in the state. The fairways are narrow, and the greens lightning fast.
What golfers love most about Edgewater is its value. In 2016, the course was voted the “7th Best Value in the United States.”
Coupled with outstanding customer service, Edgewater has everything going for it.
Santee National Golf Club
Santee National is the perfect mixture of rolling country hillsides and lowland terrain.
Mossy oaks and stately pines dot this property that’s far removed from outside noise and influence.
The Champion Bermuda greens are this course’s biggest defense. The surfaces are undulating and quite firm. Staying below the hole is the golden rule.
Having received four stars from Golf Digest, Santee National is an affordable, quality round of golf.
Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links
I’ve always loved a golf course with a difficult finish. There’s just something extra special if you’re able to top off a good round by really grinding it out.
That’s exactly what Glen Dornoch demands from you.
This old school layout was designed by nature, not humans. Live oaks and coastal marshes frame these holes which dogleg left and right forcing you to shape shots.
Truly one of the most scenic courses on the coast, don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on Royal Dornoch.
As I finish writing this article, I harken back to those Sunday afternoon drives and James Taylor… Ok, I won’t go there again.
In all seriousness, I could spend years writing a book about all the great golf in South Carolina. There’s literally that much to talk about.
I know I’ve left a lot of courses off this list that belong. Unfortunately, we only have room for 10. I’d love to hear what your thoughts are about golf courses in the Palmetto state. Thanks for reading and keep in touch in the comments.