The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island started off my end of the year trip to South Carolina and Florida for my final rounds of the year. I was most excited about this course out of the three I would be playing. This Pete Dye designed course played host to the 1991 “War by the Shore” Ryder Cup, the 2007 Senior PGA Championship and will host the 2012 PGA Championship. The brand new clubhouse pictured below had just been finished prior to the Senior PGA Championship at the end of the summer. There was a 15-20 foot picture window looking out to the ocean right when you walked in the front door. Very nice.
I’d heard stories about how tough The Ocean Course was and how the wind could wreak havoc on a golf game, but on the day we were there the sun was out and the wind was not much of a factor at all. However, I can say that without a doubt that the course was tough enough even with only a slight wind. The waste bunkers were everywhere and they were brutal. I took several shots where the only thing in front of me was a wall of sand. The green side bunker complexes were plentiful as well as you can see in the photo below from the 10th hole. Pete Dye loves his sand.
Below is the one shot 14th hole. It was nice 161 yard poke from the Dye tees.
Below is a photo from the 16th hole. Balls are very findable at the Ocean Course although there was a time or two where I wished I HADN’T found my ball. Best thing to do is take your medicine and get it back on the fairway. Its pretty tough to play big shots once you get out in no man’s land like my friend below.
The photo below was taken on the 17th tee box. When we arrived this big fella was sitting on the bank of the tee box. I found it hard to believe that we were standing all of about eight feet from this dangerous animal and he didn’t pay us a bit of mind. The caddies said that the lost ball recovery guys who dive in the water hazards jump right in with no more than chain mail style gloves for protection. That is one job I would not be willing to do.
This was a fun way to spend the day. The views at the Ocean Course are spectacular and the course is lots of fun and equally as difficult. If you can stay in the fairway, you’ll be able to score. The greens are not overly difficult, the land is basically flat, so the real challenge is keeping the ball in the short stuff and not missing greens. Next stop TPC Sawgrass.
Just a quick update about The Ocean Course. I had another game at the course and it is still as enjoyable as it was two years ago. However, they have ‘softened’ the course a little bit. A number of bunkers that had previously contained large sand walls have been planted with grass. If you look at the photo above of the 14th hole the huge sand wall you see on the left of the green has now been planted with grass. I’m guessing this is to eliminate buried lies. Below is a photo of where my ball ended up after my tee shot two years ago. With the new grass walls this is not possible. I liked it better with the sand walls and the severe penalty for a bad shot.