Best golf courses in Charleston
Regularly voted the number one city to visit in America, Charleston is full of history, culture, excellent restaurants and nightlife. Add great golf courses to that recipe for a perfect golf vacation
With notable designs from Arnold Palmer, Tom Fazio and Rees Jones all just outside of downtown, it should come as little surprise that Charleston is one of the most popular areas of America for a golf trip.
We’re often quizzed about the best golf courses in Charleston that are open to visitors, and below are six we think are well-placed on any golf itinerary. Not included in the list below, but also worth noting is that the world-famous Kiawah Island is just under an hour’s drive from the city of Charleston.
Located 30 mins from downtown Charleston, RiverTowne Country Club is the only golf course in the local area to be designed by Arnold Palmer. The layout works its way through the South Carolina Lowcountry with the local marshlands and native live oaks playing their part throughout the round.
The back-nine is considered the tougher part of the course, more tree lined to begin with but then opens out to the Horlbecck Creek which runs through many of the holes. RiverTowne was awarded 4.5 stars (out of 5) by Golf Digest and the innovative design was labelled as ‘Charleston Golf Course of the Year’ in 2015. Stunning vistas and an excellent test of golf await all visitors to RiverTowne Country Club.
The Links is the premier golf course onsite at Wild Dunes Resort, an all-encompassing stay-&-play property in the beautiful coastal area of Isle of Palms, just 16 miles north east of Charleston. Open to all, the Links was Tom Fazio’s first ever design, and it remains a personal favourite to this day.
The course is not overly long at 6,500 yards from the tips, however, narrow, rolling fairways, well-positioned bunkers and large waste areas challenge the best of players. The final three holes run towards and along the Atlantic Ocean which provides a dramatic finish with unbelievable views. A day on the Links at Wild Dunes is always enjoyed by all.
The second course on property at Wild Dunes is the Harbor, which is also a Tom Fazio design. This layout puts a premium on precise ball-striking and intelligent thinking as it meanders through and around the natural lagoons and salt marshes. Holes 9 to 11 are often considered the signature and most beautiful part of the golf course as the Intracoastal Waterway sits alongside all three.
At its maximum the layout measures 6,359 yards and so encourages golfers of all ability to tackle this thought-provoking design. With narrow fairways and a lot of water hazards to consider, accuracy over power-play often leads to a better score on the Harbor.
Charleston National is the only Rees Jones designed course in the local area that is available for public play. Rated by Golf Digest as ‘The Best Non-Resort Golf Course in the Charleston Area’, it’s a firm favorite with both the local golfers and all that visit. There are natural wetlands and lagoons to contend with, while the pine and oak tree forests demand accuracy from the tee if you are going to reach the greens in regulation.
It’s a tough test from the back tees at 7,100 yards in total, but with four other teeing options, golfers of all abilities can enjoy this sensational Jones design. The final stretch of holes is situated among acres of golden marshland and are commonly referred to as the most distinctive within the local area.
The Links at Stono Ferry is a unique layout as the playing surface is situated on the grounds of the historic 1779 Battle of Stono Ferry. Listed in 2021 by Golf Digest as one of the top 15 courses to play in South Carolina, it is certainly a great addition to a Charleston golf vacation.
The front-nine winds its way the through native pines, with the back-nine featuring several holes along the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway before closing with the challenging 18th. Holes 12 and 13 are the most scenic with views across the river, and the par-3 13th is often regarded Stono’s signature. Played from the jetty of a former river crossing, a 150-yard tee shot across the creek is required to find the green. A challenging test of golf in a visually outstanding environment await at The Links at Stono Ferry.
6. Dunes West
Dunes West takes full advantage of its Lowcountry setting and offers a tremendous test of golf amongst the natural wetlands. The Arthur Hills designed par-72 layout has four teeing options and measures 6971 yards from the tips.
The opening holes welcome you into the course and offer generous landing areas before the difficulty is tuned significantly higher as you move further into the course. The intelligent placement of bunkers will demand thoughtful decision making and the undulation of the rolling fairways will test your skills from an array of uneven lies. Acknowledged by Golf Magazine and Golf Digest as a ‘Top 10 Resort Course’, Dunes West offers both a great day of golf and equally impressive views of Wagner Creek and the local marshlands.
Charleston’s excellent selection of golf courses plus its array of culture, dining, nightlife and recreation make for a very memorable golf vacation. Whether you want to visit Waterfront Park or take a boat to Fort Sumter, this city of America is tough to beat when choosing where to (golf) vacation next.
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