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Kiawah Island's toughest golf courses will tear you apart

By S. Adam Cardais,
Turtle Point Golf Course
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Don't let the views at Kiawah Island Golf Resort's Turtle Point golf course distract you. With a slope rating of 142, Turtle Point is one of the most difficult courses on the island. (Courtesy Kiawah Island Golf Resort)

Looking to test your game on the toughest golf courses in the country? Forget about Scottsdale or Palm Springs. Kiawah Island, S.C. is the place for the masochistic golfer.

Kiawah Island is home to the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, a track that recently took top prize in Golf Digest's list of the country's worst ball busters. Designed by top golf course architect Pete Dye, the Ocean Course is known for feasting on average duffers like yourself.

If you survive, and are still hungry for more pain, you won't have to look far on Kiawah Island to find more torture chambers disguised as picturesque golf courses.

Kiawah Island's most difficult golf courses

Ocean Course: This course made No. 1 on Golf Digest's ranking of America's 50 Toughest resort golf courses. This shouldn't be a shock, as it was designed by Dye, a man known for architecting golf courses that make duffers want to weep.

"No surprise to me the Ocean course at Kiawah Island was ranked the hardest course in the U.S. by Golf Digest," National Golf Editor Tim McDonald wrote in a blog for TravelGolf.com. "I've played the course. First, it sneered at me as I strode up to the first tee. It landed a few early jabs, toying with me, then began to work effectively to the body, taking its time."

Measuring 7,296 yards from the championship tees, the Ocean Course has a nearly unthinkable 152 slope rating. The amazing thing is, Dye didn't have to do much to reach this level of difficulty, as he took care to design around the landscape, letting nature do most of the talking.

But the Ocean Course isn't just a bruiser. Golf Digest has also named it one of the top 10 public courses in the nation. The accolades have led some of the world's most prestigious golf events to its fairways since it opened in 1991. The World Golf Championships World Cup came here in 2003. The Senior PGA Champtionship will be here this year, and in 2012, the Ocean Course will host the PGA Championship.

The River Course at Kiawah Island Club: This Tom Fazio design has a formidable 140 slope rating and measures 7,039 yards from the championship tees. The River Course, the first track to open at Kiawah Island Club, has received much recognition. In 1996 Golf Digest called it one of the top five new private courses in the nation. The track also ranked No. 38 on GolfWeek Magazine's list of America's Top 100 Residential Courses and is home to the Kiawah Pro Celebrity Challenge.

Turtle Point: Designed by Jack Nicklaus, Turtle Point has a 142 slope rating and measures nearly 7,000 yards. Nicklaus didn't go over the top with this design, but it is nevertheless one of the most demanding runs on the island. You'll need to be both long and accurate here. This difficulty is one of the primary reasons Turtle Point has been selected to host many important events, including the South Carolina Amateur Championship and the 1990 PGA Cup matches.

Osprey Point: If you gave the Ocean Course a go on your first day on the island and got the crap kicked out of you, Osprey Point is the place to turn to give your ego a boost. Osprey Point is certainly challenging, at 6,871 yards and a slope rating of 137, but it won't aim for the jugular the way the Ocean Course does. Designed by Tom Fazio, arguably the world's most respected course designer, Osprey Point is known for playability. You'll find some much needed comfort in its wide landing areas. Just watch out for the alligators, which like to sun themselves on its fairways.

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