Charleston & Resort Islands Golf: From America’s First Golf Club to Premier Place to Play

CHARLESTON, SC May 25, 2014 – In 1743, a shipment of golf equipment from Leith, Scotland made its way to David Dees, a downtown Charleston shopkeeper. Inside were 96 golf clubs and 432 golf balls. During that same period, a plot of land just west of the shopkeeper was being used as a makeshift golf course that later became the first golf course and golf club in America. In 1786, this plot of land became Harleston Green, home to the South Carolina Golf Club. Its membership fees for course maintenance are thought to have evolved into what are known as “green fees” today.

Illustration of Harleston Green by Barbara Shipman

Illustration of Harleston Green by Barbara Shipman

Nearly 100 years later, in 1891, the Pine Forest Inn opened in the nearby town of Summerville, adding 130 acres of golf links to the destination. While Harleston Green and Pine Forest Inn are distant memories, they established a heritage and tradition of golfing excellence that is evident today throughout the area.

In the 1920s, four courses were built in the Charleston area featuring Bermuda grass greens. Fifty years later, notable golf course architect, Tom Fazio, visited the area and discovered Isle of Palms, which featured an oceanfront stretch of land with ancient sand dunes and wind-blown live oaks. Here, he created the Wild Dunes Links course, often described as the perfect combination of Scotland and the Caribbean. This seaside jewel heralded the beginning of the Charleston area’s modern golf boom.

In 1991, one of the country’s legendary designers, Pete Dye, set his sights on the Charleston area and created the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. With more seaside holes than any course in the Northern Hemisphere, wind plays a large factor in play, which was demonstrated in one of the most fiercely contested Ryder Cup Matches played that same year. Since that time, the Ocean Course has hosted numerous professional tournaments, including the 2012 PGA Championship.

In addition to seaside courses, additional golf course architects, such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Arthur Hills and Robert Trent Jones Sr. have had the opportunity to create memorable experiences on distinctive tracts of land, including historic plantations and Revolutionary War battlefields.

Today, the Charleston area offers a broad collection of 20 semi-private and public golf courses open for play year-round. Golf enthusiasts and their guests, who may not share the same enthusiasm, can also take advantage of the destination’s plentiful activities and offerings, ranging from historic tours and attractions to award-winning dining, as well as a year-round calendar of festivals and events.

For more information on Charleston & Resort Islands Golf, call 800-774-4444 or visit

The mission of the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is to unify and lead the local travel industry in marketing the Charleston area as an individual, meeting, incentive and group destination to both the domestic and international markets. For more information, visit



OVERVIEW:Charleston, S.C. is famous for its many historic “firsts.” The first decisive patriot victory of the American Revolution…the first shots of the Civil War….the first museum in America. Many people do not realize that the game of golf also figures prominently on this list. More than 200 years ago, Charleston was the site of America’s first golf club. In 1786, the South Carolina Golf Club was formed and established Harleston Green in an area that is now downtown. In fact, the term “green fee” is thought to have evolved from membership fees paid by club members to maintain their course. While Harleston Green is a long-gone memory, it established a heritage and tradition of golfing excellence that is evident today throughout the Lowcountry.This tradition of excellence can also be found off the course in the destination’s plentiful activities and offerings. They range from historic tours and attractions to inshore and offshore fishing and award-winning dining, as well as a year-round calendar of festivals and events.
WHERE TO PLAY:Golf enthusiasts will find a winning combination of variety and value in the Charleston area. Below is a sampling of semi-public and public courses.Charleston National Golf Club – The only Rees Jones Design open to the public in the area, this course is sculpted out of Lowcountry marshland and features 100-year old oaks dripping with Spanish moss and Palmetto palms. (7,064 yards, par 72)Coosaw Creek Country Club – This Arthur Hills designed course featuring unusually rolling terrain with strategically placed bunkers and water hazards. (6,593 yards, par 71)

Dunes West Golf Club – Located on the historic Lexington Plantation, this Arthur Hills design is set amidst moss-draped oaks, lush palms and Bermuda-covered dunes. (6,859 yards, par 72)

Kiawah Island Golf Resort Cougar Point Golf Club – Designed by Gary Player, this course features holes playing directly along broad expanses of tidal marsh, offering panoramic views of the Kiawah River and acres of needlerush and spartina grass. (6,875 yards, par 72)

Kiawah Island Golf Resort Oak Point Golf Club – Created by noted southern architect, Clyde Johnston, Oak Point was built on the grounds of an old indigo and cotton plantation and feature a design reminiscent of Scottish golf. (6,701 yards, par 72)

Kiawah Island Golf Resort The Ocean Course – Host site for the 2012 PGA Championship, this Pete Dye design offers views along 2.5 miles of Atlantic Ocean. (7,356 yards, par 72)

Kiawah Island Golf Resort Osprey Point Golf Club – A Tom Fazio design, the course features four large natural lakes and fingers of saltwater marshes, offering picturesque views from every hole. (6,932 yards, par 72)

Kiawah Island Golf Resort Turtle Point Golf Club – Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the course flows through interior forests of hardwoods and palmettos, along backwater lagoons and finally to three holes along the Atlantic Ocean. (7,062 yards, par 72)

Legend Oaks Golf & Tennis Club – Located on the site of a former rice plantation, the course was designed by Scott W. Pool and is surrounded by the natural beauty of 300-year-old majestic live oak trees and a host of Lowcountry wildlife. (7,011 yards, par 72)

Patriots Point Links on Charleston Harbor – A Lowcountry tradition, this historic course, designed by Willard Byrd, features plush fairways, immaculate greens and panoramic views of Charleston Harbor and Fort Sumter. (6,955 yards, par 72)

Pine Forest Country Club – Nestled among the Carolina Pines of historic Summerville and designed by Robert Spence and Ken Killian, the course’s 12th hole, fittingly named “Little Augusta,” features one of the narrowest greens in the world at only seven yards wide in the center and 12 yards wide on the sides. (6,905 yards, par 72)

Rivertowne Country Club – Located on the Wando River, this Arnold Palmer-designed course is surrounded by miles of coastal marsh views and features pampas grasses and classic southern Live Oaks. (7,188 yards, par 72)

Seabrook Island Club Crooked Oaks – Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., the course is located on the private island of Seabrook and meanders through centuries old live oak trees in a maritime forest environment. (6,780 yards, par 72)

Seabrook Island Club Ocean Winds – A Willard Byrd design, the course fits naturally into the barrier island environment, playing along tidal marshes and sand dunes out to the Atlantic Ocean. (6,765 yards, par 72)

Shadowmoss Plantation Golf Club –Carved from an original Charleston Plantation, Shadowmoss is designed by Russell Breeden and offers immaculate Champion ultradwarf greens. (6,701 yards, par 72)

The Links at Stono Ferry – The site of the revolutionary Battle of Stono Ferry in 1779, this Ron Garl design is set amidst centuries-old live oaks along the Intracoastal Waterway. (6,814 yards, par 72)

The Golf Club at Wescott Plantation – Course architect Dr. Michael Hurdzan designed this 27-hole course that is set among centuries-old live oaks and built on one of the Lowcountry’s oldest plantations. (7,113-7,197 yards)

Wild Dunes Resort Harbor Course – A Tom Fazio design, the course continues the Links’ tradition of golf, but offers a cohesive variety of short and long holes, some bordering the Intracoastal Waterway. (6,359 yards, par 70)

Wild Dunes Resort Links Course – Designed by Tom Fazio, this Links Course presents combined challenges of the Atlantic Ocean and features rolling fairways that wander past moss-draped live oaks, magnolias and exotic palms, through giant sand dunes and saltwater marshes. (6,709 yards, par 72)

WHERE TO STAY:From full-service hotels and historic bed and breakfasts in the heart of downtown Charleston to beach condominiums and villas, the Charleston area offers a distinctive array of accommodations to meet all budgets and wish lists.Seasonal packages are available throughout the year, many tying in activities such as historic and local craft brewery tours and haunted tours. Golfers also have the opportunity to create customized packages at
GETTING HERE:The Charleston area features non-stop air service to Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Nashville, New York, Newark, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Carriers include American Eagle, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.
TEMPERATE TEMPERATURES:The Charleston area offers a temperate to semi-tropical climate, ideal for year-round golf. Average temperatures range from lows in the 40s and 50s to highs in the 60s during the winter and lows in the 70s and highs in the 80s during the summer.
MANAGEMENT: Shannon Odom
General Manager
Charleston & Resort Islands Golf(a division of the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau)
CONTACT:Toll-free 800-774-4444 / 843-805-3071


Posted in: Charleston SC, Golf
Michael "Beach Mick" Hudson

About the Author:

Michael "Beach Mick" Hudson is the founder and Editor of Beach Carolina Magazine. Living along the coast of North Carolina, Mike has a passion for the beach and loves to bring news and events of the Carolinas to others around the world.

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