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Charleston golf, beyond Kiawah: Charleston National C.C., Links at Stono Ferry, RiverTowne, more

Joel ZuckermanBy Joel Zuckerman,
The Links at Stono Ferry - Charleston
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The Links at Stono Ferry, a Ron Garl design, winds through the pines before heading towards the Intracoastal Waterway. (Tim McDonald/WorldGolf.com)

Contrary to popular belief, Charleston, South Carolina's golf scene does in fact extend beyond Kiawah Island.

It's the 500-pound golf gorilla of the region, no doubt. The beautiful barrier island southeast of the city, posh resort that it's become in recent decades, sets Charleston's golf standard to the world at large. But avid golfers can swing a golf club on all points of the compass, never setting foot on Kiawah, and still have a full South Carolina golf vacation. WorldGolf.com give you a small sampling of some great Charleston golf.

Charleston National Country Club is a uniquely beautiful Rees Jones gem north of the city in suburban Mt. Pleasant. Originally slated as an exclusive private venue, the profound impact of 1989's Hurricane Hugo scuttled the ambitions of the original developer. Now this 7,100 yard golf course is available to all. The closing holes, set among untold acres of golden marshland bisected by wooden bridges, are among the most distinctive in the region.

RiverTowne Country Club is in the same vicinity, and offers daily-fee players one of the staunchest challenges in greater Charleston. This is Arnold Palmer's first foray in the area, and much like the King in his prime, RiverTowne is handsome, muscular and intimidating. The Wando River and Horlbeck Creek are either in sight or in play on 13 different holes, and the omnipresent marshes, grasslands and lagoons will conspire to keep all but the finest players completing their round with a different ball than they began with. This is one of the newest Charleston golf courses, and undoubtedly one of the most talked-about as well.

The Links at Stono Ferry is south of the city in the sleepy town of Hollywood. You won't see any celebrities here, just some dazzling golf holes on the inward nine, close by the Intracoastal Waterway. The Battle at Stono Ferry was fought on these grounds in 1779. Two-hundred and 10 years later architect Ron Garl created a pleasing 6,700 yard track that winds through the pines before heading towards the water. It's a quality golf experience and history lesson combined, as a series of commemorative markers on the grounds provide insight into the intense skirmish between British and American forces in the Revolutionary War.

Shadowmoss Plantation Golf Club is a Russell Breeden design just 10 minutes from Stono Ferry, offering a unique money-back guarantee. If you aren't enjoying your round or the course conditions for any reason, stop into the clubhouse at the turn for a full refund. It's a bold offer to be sure, yet one that's rarely taken advantage of. Visitors love the Bermuda greens, considered some of the best in the city. They also love the challenge of a tree-lined course that twice played host to the South Carolina Open.

Dunes West Golf Club is an Arthur Hills design from 1991. It's very playable and user friendly, with five sets of tees. The general consensus of the daily-fee customers and members is that the course is midline between pushover and punisher. There are very few at-the-turn golf ball purchases, and the post-round grumbling is almost always self-directed. There's little venom aimed at hidden hazards, encroaching tree lines or tricked-up features because they simply don't exist.

Joel Zuckerman is based in Savannah, Georgia and Park City, Utah. He is the author of five books, and his golf and travel stories have appeared in more than 100 publications around the world, including Sports Illustrated, Golfweek, Travel+Leisure Golf, Continental and Golf International.

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