The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort hosted the 2007 Senior PGA and the 2012 PGA Championships, it will also host the 2021 PGA. The Ocean Course is the fourth course to have hosted each of the PGA of America’s major championships.
Probably no other golf course in the world outside of the United Kingdom and Ireland is affected as much by the wind. From one round to the next, a player can experience up to an 8-club difference on holes depending upon the direction and strength of the wind. Built-in 1991 by Pete Dye, there are no prevailing winds on the course. Dye took this into account when designing the course. In fact, he designed two courses into one – one for an easterly wind and one for a westerly wind.
Located on the eastern-most end of Kiawah Island, The Ocean Course has more seaside holes than any other course in the Northern Hemisphere – 10 right along the Atlantic with the other 8 running parallel to those. Although it was originally designed to sit behind the dunes, Dye’s wife, Alice, suggested raising the entire course to allow players unobstructed views of Kiawah’s beautiful Atlantic coastline from every hole. This improved view, however, made the course substantially more demanding as it also exposed it to the area’s brisk and unpredictable sea breezes.
The Ocean Course gained instant notoriety as the host of the dramatic “War by the Shore,” a battle decided literally by the final putt of Sunday’s final match in 1991’s Ryder Cup Matches. In 1997, The Ocean Course hosted the World Cup of Golf, with the world’s finest golfers from 32 countries competing in the stroke play tournament. The inaugural UBS Cup took place on the course in 2001, and in 2003 the course hosted the World Golf Championships World Cup. The PGA Professional National Championship was played in June 2005.
Golf Digest named The Ocean Course “#3 Public Golf Course in the U.S.”, #20 among “America’s Greatest Courses” and “America’s Toughest Resort Course.” It is one of only 17 “5-star” courses in North America in Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play” reader’s poll. GOLF Magazine has rated it #4 in its “Top 100 Courses You Can Play” list. The Ocean Course has achieved the designation as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” by the Audubon Sanctuary System and has recently been named “Golf Course of the Year” by the National Golf Course Owners Association.
With 18 holes offering panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, it is likely The Ocean Course would have earned widespread acclaim had no tournament ever been played there. In May 2007, The Ocean Course hosted the Senior PGA Championship, and in 2012 hosted the PGA Championship – the first of golf’s four majors to be played in South Carolina.