Gary Player's opening hole is a relatively easy par 4. The short starting hole features two large fairway bunkers that put more of a premium on accuracy than length as the bunker on the left is reachable by most players. The smart play is to hit a 3-wood off the tea which will still leave a short iron into the green.
This beautiful par 3 is just past the resort's front gate making it one of the guests' first impressions. Water runs along the entire right side of the hole and really comes into play for a hole location on the right side of the green. A front hole location not only brings the water into play but also a large bunker that runs the length of the hole.
3rd Hole Par 3
The third hole is a true risk/reward par 5 that is reachable in two by the longer hitters but a missed second shot can end up in the water or in one of the many bunkers. Even the lay-up is a risk/reward shot where players can opt to take off more of the corner to have a shorter third shot bringing the water and bunkers into play.
After three relatively easy opening holes, the course becomes much more difficult as it moves out to its signature stretch of holes along the Kiawah River. Although the 4th hole is very long and usually plays into the wind, it offers a very generous fairway, just avoid the fairway bunkers on the left side. From the left side of the fairway, players can run the ball onto the green. The angle is much more difficult from the right side as a large greenside bunker comes into play.
Hole #5 plays parallel to the Kiawah River on the left side. The Kiawah River marsh runs from tee all the way to and around the green creating a very difficult approach when the hole is on the left side of the green.
The back tee boxes of this par 3 are set in the marsh forcing a carry over a natural area with lateral hazard down the entire left side and behind the hole. There is more room short of the green that you can see from the tee making this a much more visually intimidating hole than it actually is.
This dog leg left par 4 is a lay-up hole from the tee that places a premium on accuracy as a tee shot that is short or right will leave a blocked second shot because of massive oaks. Long-ball hitters can try to hit a drive past the trees and through the dogleg but a ball that goes too far will be in the pond protecting the green.
Hole #8 is another fairly simple par 4 that places a premium on accuracy off of the tee. The smart play is to hit a 3-wood or long iron to keep the ball in the left side of the fairway, avoiding the large fairway bunker in the left rough and a blocked approach shot from the right rough.
The 9th hole is a reachable par 5 with a good tee shot that avoids the water right and out of bounds on the left side. If the player opts to lay-up the best play is to the right center of the fairway leaving a good angle to the green while avoiding trees that will block an approach played from the left rough.
This long par 4 typically plays into the wind with an uphill approach making the hole the most difficult on the back 9. The safest line off of the tee is the target bunker in the left rough but long hitters can aim over the water to try to curt off distance for the approach shot.
Long hitters must avoid the large fairway bunker on the left side of the hole and a bunker short right of the green makes you think twice about trying to reach the par 5 in two. This is one of the most photographed greens on the island with a wide array of bunkering and stately oaks framing the hole. It was also one of the holes used in the filming of "The Legend of Bagger Vance." In the movie's opening scene Jack Lemmon hits his tee shot on this hole then walks off the tee down the fairway to the left rough.
This long par 3 is protected left by a greenside bunker and long by water but shots that land short and right can bounce onto the green providing some relief on a difficult hole. It pays off to check the wind before leaving #11 as it can be very deceiving from the 12th tee.
Hole #13 is short par 4 that rewards accuracy more than length off the tee to be sure to avoid the bunkers and trees that guard the left side of the hole. A 3-wood off the tee leaves a short iron approach to a long green.
The large bunker short and left of the green makes this par 3 look much more difficult than it actually plays, unless the hole is on the left side of the green. There is a bailout area to the right of the green that makes for a fairly easy up and down.
Hole #15 is one of the more difficult par 5's on the golf course. The right side of the hole and green are protected by a large pond that longer hitters must carry if they opt to go for the green in two. There are two large oaks and several bunkers that make the lay-up shot very difficult as well. Players must lay-up short of the first oak, forcing a long iron approach, or hit it past the second oak which can prove to be too long of a shot for many players.
Players hit out of a shoot of oak trees to a narrow landing area guarded by bunkers on the left and trees on the right. With a deep bunker guarding the front left, a back left pin placement makes for a very challenging par 4.
Probably the most scenic hole on the golf course, water plays down the entire right side. This short par 4 gives a player several playing options from the start of the hole. They can play it safe with an iron to the left of the oak leaving a mid-iron to an undulated green. They can hit a 3-wood over the tree leaving a wedge or short iron to the green. Or, big hitters can hit over the water and fairway bunkers leaving a short pitch/chip to the well bunkered green. Beware of hitting through the fairway though as a pond is there to take any tee shots hit long and left.
The final hole is a long par 4 with a very unique and difficult green that is protected by water on the left side and a bunker on the right. A good drive is critical on this hole as a ball too far left or right will leave the player with tree trouble. The second shot must avoid the water on the left and a bunker on the right side. If the hole location is in the bowl of the middle of the green, a shot that misses the green right leave a very difficult pitch with the water just past the hole.