Kiawah Island in South Carolina is another top American course where they also host major tournaments and the PGA championship in 2021. I played Kiawah Island Ocean course in August 2016 and booked a tee time at 8AM in the morning to avoid too much heat and humidity. The drive through the resort is nice and the closer you get to the Ocean course the more you realize how the terrain is going to be on the course.
clubhouse from the parking space side
I was really taken away by the views and scenery when arriving and walking into the clubhouse. It is a beautiful location with a nice view of the sea.
driving range at Kiawah Island Ocean course
The first holes we played with the sun rising in the calm water. I played with 3 other guests and it was immediately a great group of golfers about to enjoy themselves in perfect conditions.
Nice short opening hole where you can get away with a fairway miss. Most space to the left of the fairway and a sand hazard to the right with trees that might interrupt your second shot. I hit a driver in the semi-rough. 9 iron to the green and a 2 putt par.
Now you really start to see how Pete Dye designed the course to play with your mind. A good risk/reward par 5 where the sand runs along the left side of the fairway to catch a short drive and rough on the right hand side. Be aggressive and you could be rewarded with a putt for eagle, but also walk away with double bogey. I took my driver and played safe, which resulted in a semi rough second shot.
well designed pete dye at Kiawah Island Ocean course
Again Pete Dye makes you think and either play safe for a longer 3rd shot or go over the hazard that runs across the fairway for a short pitch. I felt comfortable taking a rescue wood and played up about 50 yards short of the green.
I hit my approach onto the green and as you can there is run off areas around the green as throughout most the course. Another 2 putt for a par.
Another tricky drive where you need to be accurate from the tee to get the best approach shot to the green. I hit a good drive to the left side of the fairway and was between 9 and Pitching wedge on my second shot. Here is where a great caddie makes the difference, he gave me good advice, precise yardage (in my case meters) which meant that I hit an almost full 9 iron pin high to set myself up for a birdie. Nice!
tough par 4 hole 4 at Kiawah Island Ocean course
This is definitely one of the most difficult holes on the course. It requires some good shots to get a par. I hit a perfect drive down the fairway and was between 5 and 6 iron on the approach. Took the 5 iron and went just a bit long and was not able to recover for par – bogey instead…
Nice par 3 where I made a stupid course management mistake and went too much for the left hand pin instead of playing safe in the middle of the green. My tee shot ended up in the bunker pin high with a difficult sandshot that resulted in a bogey. The green is huge and a hole where it makes sense to just get in on the green and putt from there.
hole 6 at Kiawah Island Ocean course
The drive here is pretty straight forward with plenty of space. The pin was also accessible when I played and placed in the front which made it easier. I hit a good drive and a wedge to the green that spun a bit too much and was in the fringe, made par.
Wide fairway that makes the drive the easier part of the hole, however a more difficult second shot to the green.
It takes a great second shot to stay on the green and avoid run off or hazards. I went into the bunker on the left and hit a good third shot onto the green. Got a par.
tricky par 3 hole 8 at Kiawah Island Ocean course
Tricky par 3 hole where again you have the run off areas to take any shots off-line, which 2 of my playing partners experienced as you can see from picture. I hit a really solid 8 iron just short of the hole and made birdie.
Good finishing hole to the front 9, where there is space for the drive, but the second shot requires precision. You want to favour the left hand side of the fairway to give a shorter shot to the green, I did the opposite and hit my drive right in the rough. My second shot came up well short of the green as you can see from approach below.
I hit a decent chip as you can from above and made my par which resulted in an opening front 9 of 36 shots which I was really pleased with.
the back nine at Kiawah Island Ocean course
The design of the hole makes it look more difficult than it is, but there is actually more room out there then it looks. I hit a poor drive in the bunker short of the fairway and left an impossible shot to the green. It was followed by a poor approach and a double bogey start to the back nine.
hole 11 kiawah Island Ocean course
Pretty wide fairway, where you want to avoid hitting into the right hand waste area that I did. I got a decent lie and manage to get within range for the 3rd shot to the green
Another wide fairway that is slightly down hill. I hit a great drive to wedge distance and as you can see below you do not want to miss the green anywhere but short. I went safe to the middle of the green, maybe a bit too save with a wedge in hand.
risk/reward hole 13 at Kiawah Island Ocean course
A really good looking risk/reward hole where you just need to decide how much to take off on the drive. I hit my worst drive all day left and long over the bunkers. Another bogey on the card.
difficult par 3 hole 14 at Kiawah Island Ocean course
The view is great on this difficult par 3. The wind has now picked up significantly and straight into playing 2 clubs longer. I hit a good shot that went just left of the green and into the deep grass between the bunker and green.
I thought I hit a good chip, but it rolled over the green and down the slope on the other side. Came up short and rolled down again – double bogey 5. I had played really well on the front nine, but was losing it on the back nine. Not because I wasn’t hitting the ball well, but mainly because I just missed in the wrong places which really makes is tough to get around in low numbers.
Long par 4 when the wind is against you. I hit a good drive, but hit second left of the green which resulted in a bogey.
long par 5 hole 16 at Kiawah Island Ocean course
This is just a really long good par 5 with the wind into your face. Plenty of space, but just hit 3 solid shots to get on the green. Missed my drive just right into the rough. Hit a 4 wood and a 3 hybrid in my third shot to get on the green. 2 putt for a par.
best par 3 at Kiawah Island Ocean course
This is one of the hardest par 3’s I have played with the wind we had. Above picture is from the back tee with 221 yards to the green protected by water and bunkers. I hit a 3 hybrid pin high but just left of the bunker with a difficult chip. Made bogey.
fantastic finishing hole at Kiawah Island Ocean course
Many great courses have superb finishing holes and so does Kiawah Island. 18th a difficult par 4 dogleg left to right. Keep close to right hand side, but avoid the bunkers and it will leave a good approach shot. I hit my drive long and left with 235 yards into the green. Played up just right of the green, but did not manage to get up and down for par. Another bogey and dissapointing back nine 45 shots.
I was still pleased with my score of 81 shots at Kiawah Island Ocean course. I felt it could have been really good after the opening 9. The course was in fantastic shape and luckily they had decided not to aerify the course during august. The overall experience ranks high on my list and I will be back again one day. I would love to stay at the resort and play some of the other courses as well.