The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort is so much a part of its surroundings, it occasionally threatens to become part of them. Kiawah officials have to continually monitor erosion; two years ago, they were forced to dig up a million cubic yards of sand from one area of the island and dump it on the beach near the golf course, as erosion was threatening parts of the layout.
Not to worry, the course and the new, $22 million clubhouse are still intact. The clubhouse, opened in time for this year's Senior Championship, does its job, blending in with the seascape and giving those inside, in the bar or restaurant, panoramic views of the beach and ocean.
"It was designed to look like it had been here for 60 or 70 years," says Head Professional Stephen Youngner. "It wasn't supposed to be a looming structure. We wanted it to fit into the dunes."
That it does - with its brick exterior, wood shingles and low-slung roof, it looks like a ritzy cottage on the beach, complete with wraparound porches. They're going to add a wind gauge, so you can have direct evidence of your excuse when you walk off No. 18.
Neither man nor nature have done much to change the course, which has been acknowledged as one of the best - and most difficult - in the world.
It's a typical Pete Dye design in that there are many visually intimidating elements and hazards - deep, nasty pot bunkers, trees in fairways, elevated greens that fall off the seventh level of hell - and you find yourself cowed, playing to safe spots.
The raised, rolling fairways, with their sharp edges dropping off to sand and dune vegetation, look like they were sculpted in the mad architect's back yard laboratory and dropped onto the sand, following the contours of the dunes.
Ocean officials have added another tee box, one that plays 6,400 yards, perfect for your average, decent, resort hacker. Before that tee was added, golfers were forced to choose between 6,000 and 6,800 yards, too short and too long for your mid-handicapper, especially when the winds howl off the Atlantic, as they so frequently do.