By Bob Spear
Courtesy of TheSunNews.com
Harbour Town Golf Links, host of the Verizon Heritage, has been selected the top golf course in South Carolina by the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel.
Harbour Town, at Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island, has been chosen the state’s best since the panel, composed of 125 members from throughout the state, began its rankings in 2005.
“I could play Harbour Town every day and never get bored,” former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk said in 2008.
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort, which staged the 1991 Ryder Cup and will host the 2012 PGA Championship, climbed to second.
Although the order changed slightly, the same courses from 2008 composed this year’s top 10, which were announced Saturday night at the panel’s awards dinner at Seabrook Island Resort.
“There are so many outstanding courses that you’re really splitting hairs,” said Michael Whitaker, the organization’s executive director.
Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville finished third in the balloting, followed by May River Golf Club at Palmetto Bluff, Greenville Country Club’s Chanticleer Course, Long Cove Club in Hilton Head, Secession Golf Club in Beaufort, the Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, Kiawah Island Club’s Cassique Course and Yeamans Hall Club in Hanahan.
Architects of the top courses represent a Who’s Who in the field. Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus combined on Harbour Town, and Dye designed the Ocean Course and Long Cove. Nicklaus also has May River to his credit. Robert Trent Jones Sr. produced the Dunes and Chanticleer.
Others include Tom Fazio (Sage Valley), Bruce Devlin (Secession), Tom Watson (Cassique) and Seth Raynor (Yeamans Hall).
Kiawah Island Golf Resort earned top honors among state golf resorts. Sea Pines placed second with Palmetto Bluff, Barefoot (North Myrtle Beach), Grande Dunes (Myrtle Beach) and Wild Dunes (Isle of Palms) following. Grande Dunes and Wild Dunes tied for fifth.
The Cliffs at Keowee Springs, a Fazio design which opened in 2009, debuted at No. 31. Four of the Cliffs’ courses earned places in the top 50 and are ranked Nos. 3-6 among upstate courses.
Renovations helped Haig Point Club on Daufauskie Island jump 16 spots to No. 24. The Country Club of Spartanburg, which also was revamped, made the rankings for the first time at No. 34.
The panel is composed of golf enthusiasts representing a diverse range of occupations, handicaps and background. The panel’s objective is to promote excellence in the state’s golf course design and operations through competitive ranking, education and public advocacy (the author is a member of the panel).
The best courses, public or private, are selected every other year (even-number years) and the best courses you can play are chosen in odd-numbered years. Criteria used in the judging include routing, variety, strategy, equity, memorability, aesthetics and experience.