24. The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island
Pete Dye & Alice Dye (1991)
Often considered to be the first course designed for a specific event—the 1991 Ryder Cup—this manufactured linksland-meets-lagoons layout might well be Pete Dye’s most diabolical creation. Every hole is edged by sawgrass, every green has tricky slopes, every bunker merges into bordering sand dunes. Strung along nearly three miles of ocean coast, Dye took his wife’s advice and perched fairways and greens so golfers can actually view the Atlantic surf. That also exposes shots and putts to ever-present and sometimes fierce coastal winds. The Ocean Course, which hosted the 2012 PGA Championship, won by Rory McIlroy, holds the championship again in 2021.
100 Greatest History: Ranked since 1997. Highest ranking: No. 20, 2015-16. Previous ranking: No. 24
Watch Golf Digest’s “Every Hole At: The Ocean Course” video below:
“Perhaps the most difficult, yet enjoyable golf course I have ever played, which is such a fine balance and difficult to achieve. But the Ocean Course has done it.”
“If someone told you that any hole was their favorite, you could agree with them. There really are no weak holes on this golf course.”
“When the wind is blowing, and it seems to always be windy, this is a two-sleeve round. Even the best players will likely lose a couple golf balls per round. That being said, it's an amazing course that everyone should experience at least once.”
“Pete Dye grabs your attention from the first tee, and doesn't let it go until you hole out on 18. The margin for error is minimal as every fairway is slightly raised so that the Atlantic Ocean is in view, allowing the flow of bunkers to waste areas flow seamlessly.”
“Can't beat the setting and ambience before and during round. Simply nothing like it on the East Coast.”
Behind the third green at the Ocean Course.
Photo by Stephen Szurlej