Among the most identifiable images in American golf is that of the 18th hole at the Harbour Town Golf Links.
Laid alongside the Calibogue Sound and with a green framed from behind by the famous red and white-striped lighthouse, it is an instantly familiar image to golfers.
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If that were all there is to Harbour Town, it would be plenty but there is much more to the Pete Dye-Jack Nicklaus design that earns it the No. 1 spot in our rankings of the 20 best courses in South Carolina.
Harbour Town proves that golf courses don’t have to be 7,500 yards long to be challenging. Winding between live oaks and dotted with lagoons, Harbour Town is a treat to play and features one of the best collections of par-3 holes anywhere.
These rankings are purely subjective. They aren’t done by a panel or through a numerical grading system that ranks a dozen different elements.
I’ve been fortunate to play many of these courses and those that I haven’t, such as Kiawah Island’s Cassique Course, I’ve heard and read enough about to add them to the list.
The list isn’t meant to be the definitive ranking of South Carolina courses but it’s not far off other lists.
The Dunes Golf and Beach Club ranks second for a couple of reasons – it’s a terrific course and it’s always been among my favorite places to play. When the inevitable question comes up about where would you go if you had only one round to play, the Dunes comes to mind.
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island has hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup and will host the 2012 PGA Championship. Golf experiences don’t get much better than at the Ocean Course, which I considered for No. 1.
Long Cove on Hilton Head Island is outstanding and Yeaman’s Hall is a bit like going back in time. If you ever get the chance to play either, don’t miss it.
The rest of the list is filled with special places to play, whether it’s Bulls Bay, Palmetto or the Links Course at Wild Dunes.
Everyone has their own list. We’ve provided a place for you to add your thoughts. We’d love to hear them.