10 Best Places to Golf on the East Coast
Our Favorite Golfing Destinations on the East Coast
There’s nothing quite like the immeasurable joy, and sheer frustration, that you experience as a golfer. Rain or shine, lovers of the game will stop at nothing to play the fairways of their favorite course, or conquer the challenges of one of the toughest links in the US.
Whether you play for fun or for sport, we can all agree that golf is an incredible game. If you’re looking to put your skills to the test, or simply find a new course to try, you’ve come to the right place. Without further ado, here are 10 of the best places to golf on the East Coast — starting with Kiawah Island’s own Ocean Course.
1. Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, SC
While located in our backyard, no amount of bias could transcend the reputation of the Ocean Course. Crafted in the latter part of the 1980s by the late Pete Dye, the Ocean Course is one of the few of its kind to be designed specifically for an event. In 1991, the Ocean Course challenged some of the game’s top players during the Ryder Cup, and has since beckoned the return of golfing legends and novices alike. Some of whom will be returning in 2021 for the PGA Championship.
Why play: If you want to test your skill, there are few better courses than the Ocean Course. Described as one of Pete Dye’s most “dye-abolical” designs, its wide fairways, oversized greens, tricky slopes, and deep bunkers may seem easy enough. However, catch it on a windy day and you’ll see exactly why this course continues to rank as one of the most difficult in the nation.
Its challenges are not its only feature, however. Surrounded by scenic views at every turn, and the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean, the location of the Ocean Course is unlike any other, and is by far its most memorable quality. If you’re looking for a luxury course with a breathtaking view, we invite you to try the Ocean Course. Just be sure to have plenty of golf balls on hand — you’re likely to lose more than a few.
2. Pinehurst No. 2, Pinehurst, NC
Tucked away in the small city of Pinehurst, NC lies the famed Pinehurst No. 2. For well over a century, this course has welcomed golfers from far and wide to its undulating greens. No. 2 was originally designed by Donald Ross, who called it “the fairest test of championship golf I have ever designed.” Since then, the course has been renovated to its former glory by the Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw design firm. This renovation replaced 35 acres of turf with hardpan, natural bunker edges, and native wire grasses.
Why play: Not only is Pinehurst No. 2 a beautiful course, but it has also hosted more single golf championships than any other course in America. Playing this course requires more strategy than luck, as intended by its designer. No. 2 is also scheduled to host the U.S. Open once again in 2024.
While you’re there, you may as well set your sights on nearby Pinehurst No. 8 as well. Designed by famous golfer and course designer Tom Fazio, No. 8 is said to embody all of the Pinehurst golf experiences into one course.
3. Bethpage Black, Long Island, NY
Known for its “Warning” signs and overnight parking lot guests, Bethpage Black has solidified itself as a top-tier course, and secured its spot on our list of best places to golf on the East Coast. Although open to the public, this challenging course was not designed for those who are new to the sport.
Why play: If you’re a well-seasoned golfer, you may be able to overcome the “7,468-yard brute” known as Bethpage Black. Conquered by major athletes such as Lucas Glover, Nick Watney, Patrick Reed, and the famed Tiger Woods, this course is no stranger to incredible golf talent and is scheduled to host the Ryder Cup in 2024. For a public course that gets so much action, Black’s fairways remain immaculate, and are a must-play for those seeking a challenge.
4. TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, TPC Sawgrass has created quite a name for itself in the world of golf. The Players Stadium Course is home to the Players Championship, and was designed as a true stadium course, with spectators and players in mind. Like the Ocean Course, The Players Stadium Course was mindfully crafted by none other than Pete Dye. Using what he liked to call “grenade attack architecture”, the holes at TPC Sawgrass are as beautiful as they are difficult.
Why play: The most captivating, yet terrifying, hole on the course lives on the back-nine at the 17th green. Surrounded by water with no protection from wind, spectators gather to watch the pros struggle to overcome the seemingly impossible. Overall, however, the course favors no particular player or style of play, and is known for being quite balanced.
5. Streamsong, Streamsong, FL
Red, blue, and black –– three distinct golf courses, all in one resort. The Streamsong Golf Resort is the ultimate golf destination with three internationally acclaimed links-style courses to choose from. These courses were designed by four world-renowned golf architects, Gil Hanse, Tom Doak, Bill Coore, and Ben Crenshaw, with views of deep-water ponds, native grasses, and rolling sand dunes.
Why play: The Streamsong Red offers players a challenging course, with dramatic landforms creating interesting changes in elevation for players of all levels. With a variety of bump-and-run links holes and target-like water holes, you will be sure to enjoy navigating your way through all 18 holes.
6. Harbour Town, Hilton Head Island, SC
Designed by Pete Dye and design consultant Jack Nicklaus, Harbour Town Golf Links at The Sea Pines Resort is a favorite among PGA Tour players. This mostly inland course is home to the RBC Heritage PGA tournament, played one week after the Masters. The Harbour Town golf course requires finesses and creative shot-making skills, as players make their way through the narrow fairways and small greens.
Why play: This course ends by the waters of Calibogue Sound, with views of the iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse. Test your luck at one of the most feared holes in the game –– the par-4 18th hole. Here, players are often faced with an unexpected surprise from the windy shore to finish the course.
7. The Homestead, Hot Springs, VA
Next on the list are the Golf courses at The Homestead, nestled in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains. The Omni Homestead course has the oldest first tee in the country and consistently ranks among the top golf courses in the United States. The second course, The Cascades at Omni Homestead, is known for its panoramic mountain backdrops and changes in elevation that influences the game.
Why play: With magnificent views of the Allegheny Mountains in the background, this course meanders through forests of mature trees that players try their hardest to avoid. Visit in the fall and experience the course with a blanket of autumn colors at two of the country’s finest mountain golf courses.
8. The Highland Course at Primland, Meadows of Dan, VA
Another one of the best places to golf on the East Coast is The Highland Course at Primland. When renowned golf course architect, Donald Steel, designed the course, he focused on extenuating the natural beauty found in the Virginia mountains — especially on the 18th hole. This hole is carved out of the natural landscape and showcases picturesque views of the mountains, making it a true must-see for lovers of the game.
Why play: Ranked by GOLF Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Courses You Can Play”, this course is ideal for players of any skill level. Thanks to its mountainous terrain, The Highland is designed for players to experience a variety of holes, all in one course.
9. Sea Island, St. Simmons Island, GA
Home to the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic, Sea Island is another oceanic golf course framed by the Atlantic Ocean. Originally designed by British golf architect H.S. Colt, this course has since been redesigned by Tom Fazio. In his design, he blends the “Seaside Nine” designed by Colt and the “Marshland Nine” designed by Joe Lee to create a completely new course.
Why play: This redesigned course stays true to the original design by incorporating big clamshell bunkers, smaller putting surfaces, and exposed sand dunes that please the eye. The wind factor makes this course a challenge for all players, as they must adapt to the ever-changing conditions.
10. The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, WV
If you’re looking for golf with a rich history, The Greenbrier Resort has three courses that date back well over a century. Over the years, these courses have witnessed historical moments in the sport such as “the greatest competitive round in the history of the game” by Sam Snead during the 1959 Spring Festival. The Greenbrier is the only resort course in the world to have hosted both the Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup.
Why play: At The Greenbrier, players can choose from three 18-hole courses –– The Old White, The Greenbrier, and The Meadows. For those short on time, the Ashford Short Course is a walkable course with 9-holes. Surprisingly, these flat courses are designed with challenging green complexes and dramatic doglegs, making for an interesting round of golf every time.
Golfing on Kiawah Island
Home to five public golf courses, including the famous Ocean Course, and two private courses for Kiawah Island Club Members, Kiawah Island provides a golfing experience suited for all players. Oak Point, Cougar Point, Turtle Point, Osprey Point, and the Ocean Course are all open to the public through the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. See how our courses rank.
The Cassique and River Courses, however, are only playable by homeowners with a membership to the Kiawah Island Club. As a Club Member, you not only have access to two incredible courses, but also to the most exclusive events, activities, dining options, and luxury services the Lowcountry has to offer.
Whether you simply want to test your game, or are interested in calling Kiawah home, our team is ready to help you experience the best the Island has to offer. Get in contact with our Sales Executives to learn more about planning an experiential weekend on Kiawah Island.