The 2012 Golf Season has whizzed by so quickly that I can scarcely believe the final major championship of the year is just a couple of days away. The best players in the world will soon head to South Carolina and the famed Kiawah Island, hoping to end the week with the giant Wannamaker Trophy firmly in their grasp.
Golf fans from all over the world will be tuning in to see Messrs Woods and co strutting their stuff on what is known as one of greatest golf courses in the world, The Kiawah Island Ocean Course. One of the best things about golf as a sport is that we mere mortal weekend warriors can pack our clubs up and head off to far flung destinations to enjoy a game on the very same layouts that the pros compete on for the biggest prizes in the game.
Kiawah Island can be enjoyed by golfers embarking on a South Carolina Golf Tour and although many of the courses that have hosted the PGA Championships aren’t within reach of the general golfing public, there are a select few that we can enjoy while walking in the footsteps of our golfing heroes.
Here are the top 5 PGA Championship Courses you can play on your next American Golf Holiday…
Kiawah Island – Ocean Course
This week will mark the first time the notorious Ocean Course at Kiawah Island has hosted the PGA Championship and when it does so it will become only the 4th course to have hosted all four of the PGA Tour of America’s major championships.
The Ocean Course is considered by many to be the toughest golf course in the USA and when the big boys arrive for this week’s PGA Championship it will be playing just shy of its mammoth total yardage of just under 8,000 yards!
Kiawah Island is home to no less than 5 stunning golf courses that cater for golfers of all abilities but the Ocean Course is the jewel in Kiawah’s crown without question. Designed by the legendary Pete Dye, whose other projects include the famous TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, the Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo and the Lykia Links in Turkey, The Ocean Course is among the most difficult on the planet so if you hope to play it, just be sure to arrive with reasonable expectations! In fact, caddies say the majority of players will need to add 10 shots to their handicaps!
The Ocean Course, which is frequently buffeted by the prevailing Atlantic winds, is a patchwork of pristine fairways, speedy putting surfaces and well placed bunkers that all blend seamlessly with the natural lay of the land on which it’s built. Natural waste bunkers, marshes and reeds spread all over the course and with ten holes that track the coastline and the remaining eight running parallel just inland, The Ocean Course is without doubt one of the world’s most spectacular courses, set in one of the most desirable destinations for the true golf aficionado.
To view our Kiawah Island Photo Guide Click Here…
Pebble Beach needs no introduction as it has long been atop many a golfers list of dream golf courses. Set on the idyllic surrounds of the Monterey Peninsula, Pebble Beach is one of the world’s most famous courses, having hosted numerous high profile professional events throughout the years including, of course, the US Open on no less than 5 occasions and the PGA Championship in 1977.
Pebble Beach is home to a number of the most inconic holes in golf, not least of which is the stunning short par 3 7th. It may only be a flick with a wedge but when you’re standing on the elevated tee with the wind swirling it can be oh so intimidating!
A procession of classy holes are highlighted by the famous stretch that ends the back nine and of course the par 5 18th which sweeps along the Pacific Coast from tee to green. Holes 6 and 7 are worth the trip to Pebble alone and with the likes of Spyglass Hill, Monterey Peninsula Country Club and The Links at Spanish Bay all within touching distance, the Monterey Peninsula is one of the very best locations for a world class golf tour.
It is difficult to do justice to Pebble Beach with words alone, but suffice to say, it is the number one ranked worldwide golf course that is available to the golfing masses.
Like the Kiawah Island Ocean Course and Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Straits Course at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin enjoys a setting on the water’s edge but this time it isn’t the mighty Pacific or Atlantic Ocean that provides the backdrop but the magnificent Lake Michigan.
If you didn’t know the photo above was of Whistling Straits you may well assume it was a classic links course from Scotland or Ireland.
Like the Ocean Course at Kiawah, Whistling Straits was designed by Pete Dye and following the relocation of millions of tonnes of earth, a hybrid links course with distinct Scottish accents and unrivalled beauty was unveiled. While it may not be a traditional links course in the Scottish and Irish sense, the Straits is rugged and wild. Endless bunkers are bordered by choppy rough, making them a real hazard should you find them with tee shots or errant approaches and the course is defined by sweeping undulations and elevation changes that despite being largely manufactured, look as if they are age old and totally natural to their surroundings.
The Straits Course is still relatively young but is already one of the most sought after courses on the planet and should be a serious contender as a course to include on your next American Golf Tour.
PGA National Resort & Spa – Champion Course
The PGA National Resort is one of the most comprehensive golf resorts in the whole of the USA and is an excellent option for a Florida Golf Break thanks to its top class accommodation, facilities and its 5 outstanding golf courses, one of which, The Champion Course, has hosted the PGA Championship on two separate occasions.
The Champion Course at the PGA National Resort in Florida is the main attraction but 4 other golf courses make this a great base for an American Golf Holiday.
The Champion Course is the backbone of PGA National’s outstanding golfing heritage, originally designed by Tom Fazio and subsequently reworked by Jack Nicklaus, who won the PGA Championship here in 1971. A top class tournament venue, the Champion played host to the 1983 Ryder Cup matches and the 1987 PGA Championship, while it is now the annual home of the US Tour’s Honda Classic. The treacherous closing holes have been dubbed ‘The Bear Trap’, and are among the most difficult in the state.
Although the four other courses sit in the considerable shadow of the Champion Course, they are by no means a sideshow having been designed by the likes of Arnold Palmer and Tom Fazio. For any American Golf Holiday, the amazing PGA National Resort in Florida is an outstanding option.
Pinehurst – Number 2 Course
Pinehurst is one of the biggest names in golf and thanks to superb accommodation options that cater for just about everyone and no less than 8 championship golf courses designed by the biggest names in golf, it is the place to be on any North Carolina Golf Break.
We can thank the likes of Donald Ross, Tom Fazio and Rees Jones, three of the most well known golf course architects in modern times, for the plethora of golf on offer at the Pinehurst Resort but it is Ross’ Number 2 Course that gets most of the attention.
The Number 2 at Pinehurst is one of the most celebrated in the world and will surely host future PGA Championships. After all, the Wannamaker Trophy hasn’t paid this famous venue a visit since 1936!
The No. 2 recently celebrated its centenary, and Donald Ross’ design is not only among the worlds best, but has also hosted more championships than any other in the United States. Play here, and you will be following in famous footsteps, evoking memories of golf’s finest moments from the likes of the Ryder Cup, US Open and the PGA Championship which was last played at this famous venue in 1936, back when the tournament was still played in a matchplay format.
Of the more than 400 courses Donald Ross designed, Pinehurst No. 2 was where he made his home, continuing to tweak and perfect the course throughout his life. The Number 2 Course carves its way through age old pine forests that dominate the surrounding area and all along the way waste bunkers and towering pines await any errant shots on the edges of the perfectly manicured fairways. No. 2 is best known for its crowned, undulating greens, which are some of the most complex and widely hailed in the world. This course is one of the classic American designs.