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Osprey Point at Kiawah Island Golf Resort: Playability and perfect scenery

Tim McDonaldBy Tim McDonald,
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Osprey Point Golf Club - Wildlife
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Osprey Point is considered one of the more scenic Kiawah Island courses, with plenty of wildlife. (Tim McDonald/GolfPublisher.com)

Scenery rules at Osprey Point Golf Club, perhaps the prettiest and most playable of Kiawah Island Golf Resort's five excellent golf courses.

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. - Every head professional at every golf course in America has seen it and winced: Golfers playing from the wrong tees. Guys who hit it 180 with their driver playing the back tees where the pros play.

Woe be unto the golfer who says to his playing buddies: "Guys, let's move up a few tees." If he's lucky, only his sanity will be questioned, not his manhood.

It would be funny if it didn't detract from the enjoyment of the round, or worse, slow down the pace of play.

Jim Kelechi, head pro at Osprey Point, one of five resort courses at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, thought he may have had a solution. When the club was re-building the tees at No. 1, Kelechi decided to add a couple of tee boxes.

The par-4 hole, which normally played 390 yards, now had two sets of tees at 440 and 450. Now, the fairway looked really, really small.

"I was trying to scare them into moving up to where they should be playing," chuckled Kelechi, whose office overlooks the first tee. "Now, I look out and they're hitting it in the parking lot, the putting green, the next fairway. You cannot scare the average golfer. He's playing the blue tees no matter what."

That's a blessing and a curse, particularly here at Osprey Point. A blessing because the hacker will get to see way more of this beautiful course than he probably intended. Worse, because he probably won't be in the mood to enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

On an island awash in some of the best lowcountry scenery anywhere, Osprey is a cut above.

That may be because it was originally built as a members-only course. In any case, Osprey has a large, beautiful clubhouse overlooking a course that has four large, natural lakes and fingers of saltwater marsh, and a whole lot of wood bridges that take you over all the water.

Indeed, every hole but No. 8 has water, though the only real forced carry is on the par-3 11th hole.

It also has that typical, Kiawah Island look of maritime forests made up of live oaks, pines, palmettos and magnolias.

It'll almost make you forget about your bad golf, with the palms swaying in the breeze and the fish jumping in the creeks.

"It's a very scenic golf course with a lot of wildlife," Kelechi said. A lot of alligators and deer. It's really one of the more enjoyable rounds, just from a scenery standpoint."

It can be an enjoyable round from a playing standpoint as well. Aside from the few forced carries, Osprey has mostly accommodating landing areas which even wild drivers will like.

That and the lack of forced carries make it popular with the ladies - the course was ranked 9th in Golf for Women's top-50 courses. Golf Digest gave it a near perfect 4 ½ stars.

Osprey Point Golf Club: The Verdict

The bunkering is particularly sharp on this course, not unusual for a Tom Fazio design. What's odd is that they started out as grass bunkers. But, resort players were hard on them and they were eventually changed to sand. Club officials say they hope to re-do the bunkers in the next couple of years. They also have plans to re-do the greens with a hybrid Bermuda.

This course is the favorite of members, both for its scenery and playability.

"In my mind, this is the prettiest of the (resort) courses," said Brian Chatwin, on vacation with his family in nearby Charleston. "I've never seen so many alligators."

Stay and play

The Sanctuary, the resort hotel at Kiawah, is one of the most genteel settings imaginable, for anyone other than the wealthy, aristocratic gentry. The hotel itself can only be described as splendid, a five-diamond winner in 2007.

This isn't one of those mammoth, gaudy oceanfront hotels you may find in, say Myrtle Beach. It's a mansion really, with wide, elegant staircases, beautiful oak floors and, almost always, views of the Atlantic Ocean which it fronts.

The hotel has 255 rooms, with the smallest of the "King" rooms 520 square feet, all comfortably furnished with four-poster beds, and all the amenities you would expect from a resort consistently ranked one of the best in the country. There's a luxury spa, of course, as well as a variety of outdoor activities for the family.

There are also beachfront rental homes with private docks and luxury villas.

The service at Kiawah is as good or better than any golf resort where I've ever stayed.

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Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

 
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