The opening hole on The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort gives the participants of the 94th PGA Championship the opportunity to get off to a good start. This par-4 playing 396 yards, presents one of the narrowest fairways on the course. Still, there is plenty of room between the natural sand area that guards the right side of the fairway from tee to green and the thick dune grass that border the left. A good drive will leave a short iron into a gently undulating green tucked into a natural dune area. This hole should yield a number of birdie opportunities throughout the Championship. This hole provides excellent greenside spectator viewing areas.
No. 1 is one of the easiest holes on the course. Feel free to use a driver off the tee but a 3-wood is plenty. There’s plenty of room to recover, especially from the waste bunker on the right. The left side of the fairway gives the best angle into the green. It’s a good hole to get a round started with a possible birdie.
From the back tee of this 557-yard par-5, the player is as far from the Atlantic as The Ocean Course permits, yet the view from here looks right into the rolling surf, framed by ancient live oaks. From the tee, the players will have to decide how much of the salt marsh to bite off with the tee shot. Then, depending on wind direction, they will have the opportunity to go for this elevated green set between two sand ridges with their second. Against the wind, this is a difficult three shot par-5.
This is a real test of a par-5 and a very good risk/reward hole. Most players take a driver off the tee (especially from the blue tees) to set them up for their second shot. Bite off as much as you dare. Hitting the drive right sets up a lay-up short of the waste area bisecting the second shot’s landing area and a 5- to 9-iron to the green. Bite off more on the drive and a player can clear the waste area and have a pitching or sand wedge to the green. Much depends on the wind, though. The hardest part of No. 2 is the third shot. The green is very narrow and long and can be quite intimidating. You can hit a moderately good first shot and get away with it. You can even hit a moderately good second shot and get away with it. But, if you don’t hit a really good third shot, you’re looking at bogie or worse.
During 2002’s renovations, Pete Dye is adding fairway landing area for the tee shot and bulkheading the second marsh crossing about 110 yards out from the green.
The shortest par-4 on the course, measuring 390 yards, No. 3 may be one of the most intriguing. From an island-like tee, the players will fire across the marsh to an extremely wide fairway. Players should not be deceived by the generosity of the landing area. The best drives will find the plateau on the left side of the fairway. From here, the players will get the best look at the putting surface, elevated similarly to the fairway plateau and framed by an old live oak that guards the approach. Even a half wedge can be treacherous as the green slopes off to all sides, with marsh coming into play both long and left. Players missing this green will face a very difficult up and down.
Positioning your drive on this hole is very important. You want to be on the upper tier on the left, leaving you almost level with the green. Drive it to the right and you will be faced with a shot to an elevated green. Taking wind into consideration, a player’s concern for the second shot is “don’t be left” as the marsh is there to catch the shot. Shots long, short or right of this tabletop green tend to find the collection areas making for a very difficult up-and-down. If you miss the green and are chipping back into the wind, you stand a better chance. If you miss the green and are chipping with the wind, that means trouble. Tom Kite called No. 3 the best short par-4 he’s ever played.
The most striking aspect of this outstanding hole is its elevated, tabletop green. For the Ryder Cup it had tightly mowed Tifdwarf grass fringe on the green. Resort players were going back and forth for an hour trying to get the ball to stop on the green. Changes made to the approaches and a rough collar in 1997 greatly increased its playability for the average player. If they miss the green, they can now get a sand wedge/lob wedge under the ball and stop it on the green.
This 458-yard par-4 may very well be the most difficult on the outward nine. Off the tee, players will see a very wide landing area. Then, depending on wind conditions, the second shot to a large green can be played with nearly every club in the bag, from an eight iron up. Playing against the wind, players may opt to bail out to the left of this green and try to save par with a chip or even a putt from the extended collar area.
This hole is just hard. It requires a good drive for a chance to reach the green in two. However, long-hitters should beware of driving through the fairway, especially downwind. There’s more room on the right than appears from the tee. The best angle into the green, however, is from the left side of the fairway. Then, expect to hit a mid- to long-iron, depending on the wind, into the green.
During 2002’s renovations, Pete Dye is adding landing area to the left side of the fairway and three pot bunkers to the right. This turns the hole more left-to-right, giving a better angle into the green.
After four holes to the east, The Ocean Course turns back to the west for its first par-3, measuring 188 yards. With the Stono River Inlet and Folly Beach to the players back, they will survey an hourglass shaped green running away diagonally from the right. A large natural sand area runs from the tee to green ending in a steep face that cuts into the middle of the hourglass. Players must hit the appropriate portion of this largest green on the golf course or face a very difficult two putt. This hole provides excellent greenside spectator viewing areas with the extended view of the tee shots at the sixth.
A great strategic hole. Plenty of room to bail out on the right. It can tease you with a pin on the left. It is a gigantic green, running away from the player left to right. There can be as much as a 3 to 4 club difference depending upon pin location.
In 1997, quite a bit of turf was added to the left and the back of the green. It used to be very narrow there. The white tee was also enlarged providing more options for the average player.
Three wind-pruned live oaks frame the far side of the fairway on this 480-yard par-4. The perfect drive is one directly at the center oak with a slight draw, eliminating trouble in the form of a natural sand area and small pond to the left. Players will play an approach to a green open in front, but protected left and right by more sand. Expect to see many approach shots finding the center portion of this narrow, deep green.
While most of the holes place a premium on driving, the hardest part of this hole is the second shot. Players must be on the right part of the green to score well here. It’s a very deep green with a lot of undulation.
In 1997, quite a bit of room was added to the right side of the approach. While most players won’t notice the change, it greatly improved the esthetics of the hole. The fairway was also enlarged all the way down the right side.
Unlike the first par-5 where caution will temper most second shots, wind conditions will determine the strategy for the tee shot as players must decide whether to carry a natural dune area that intrudes into the fairway from the right or play left of it. Once that decision is made, the second shot can be fired at a slightly elevated green that is open in the front. The 579 yard seventh will be an exciting tournament hole as spectators will be able to see a number of the players making a run at eagle.
A great wind hole in that it can either be one of the hardest on the course or one of the easiest depending on the direction of the wind. Into the wind, if you hit a driver off the tee, the bunker on the right comes into play. It forces you to lay-up and you end up hitting a wedge into the green.
This is definitely a risk/reward hole and is one of the best chances to birdie on the front side. There is a tree and water on the right side of the green and a waste bunker running down the left side of the fairway and around the back of the green. In 1997, the landing area was enlarged somewhat. Up by the green, however, the fairway narrows quite a bit.
The 198-yard par-3 eighth is a seemingly simple hole that will become more difficult the further the pin is cut into the green as this elevated green, framed by tall live oaks just off its front left corner, becomes narrower as it extends away from the tee. Since any shot missing long or right will find the sand, players will attack the front pin locations and play to the center of the green when the pin moves back.
Eight is a tough risk/reward hole depending on the pin placement. The back right of the green is definitely a “Sunday placement.” If the pin is back, you’re looking at up to two extra clubs. The back third of the green is about 3 feet lower than the front two-thirds which means a very testy little putt if you have to negotiate the hill.
But, this is a hole where you can’t be long. It’s a teaser hole where players generally play to the left side of the green.
In 2002, two of the three trees on the left of the green were removed due to disease.
A strong 494-yard par-4 closes out the front nine. A wide fairway sloping down from the right makes driving length more important than direction. The putting surface is open in the front but presents plenty of tough up-and-down chances from an assortment of grassy swale and deep sand areas both left and right. The green at the ninth is another great spectator viewing area.
It’s a hard hole no matter how you slice it. Drive position is key. Even with a very wide fairway, it looks intimidating. The fairway drops off the end of the earth on the right. Players want to keep their drive down the left side, flirting with the bunkers and leaving yourself the best shot at the green. Drive it to the right and you have a hard time getting home in two.
Assuming you hit a good drive, you need to miss the green short because a tricky up-and-down awaits left, right and back. The green is elevated with two waste bunkers on the left and a pot bunker behind.
In 2003, Dye altered the bunkering inside the dogleg tempting the longer hitters to cut the corner.
The inward nine of the Championship will continue to the west with a 447-yard par-4. A drive down the left-center to the crest of the fairway will set up a second shot to a green set down into the dunes. Players will be faced with a large sand area to the left front of the green and a deeper, steep faced sand area to the back. Spectators will be in a prime viewing area by the tenth green, as they will catch action from both the eleventh and seventeenth as well.
This is a good solid golf hole. While the drive may look intimidating, there’s actually plenty of landing room as turf was added all along the left side of the fairway in 1997. This is a big risk/reward hole aiming over the waste bunker off the tee. If you miss, you’re staring at the bunker’s huge wall forcing the player to lay up. If you can get it over, players have a short wedge down the length of the green.
While laying a drive out to the left may seem like the smart play, it means hitting over a waste area to a slim slice of green. A collection area behind the back left of the green was added in 1997 for shots through the green.
The 593-yard par-5 eleventh will be a tough test for even the best players in the world. Except in extreme downwind conditions, this hole will be unreachable in two shots for most of the field, thus, the key to this spectacular par five is an accurate lay-up. Off the tee, players must avoid several deep sand areas right of the fairway. For the second shot, players will be wary of getting too close to the green on the lay up as it is better to lay back on the right hand side taking the sand area left out of play. A good lay-up will leave a pitch to a relatively flat but exposed and elevated putting surface set high atop a dune ridge and guarded in front by more deep sand areas. If players negotiate the tee shot, hit an accurate lay-up avoiding the natural sand areas lurking left and right and hit an accurate pitch shot, birdies are a definite possibility.
This is a good par-5 with a lot of risk/reward. Dye’s 2003 changes tempt the better player to go for this green in two and makes the hole a bit more forgiving for the average resort player. Dye made substantial changes to the transition areas on the right side of the fairway, reclaiming some of the original bunker lines. This will give the average player a better chance at recovery if their ball slices into that area.
Dye also changed the greenside transition area to the left of the green by reclaiming some of the fairway at around 70-100 yards out but adding a pot bunker just short of the green to catch those attempting to reach the green in two.
This is the hole that caused Annika Sorenstam’s loss in the Shell Wonderful World of Golf matches in 1998.
The 412-yard par-4 twelfth encompasses the widest fairway on the course which gives way to one of the narrowest approaches. Many players may choose a three wood off the tee to avoid a downhill lie for the second shot and a steep drop off on the right. A good drive here sets up a downhill second to a green guarded closely on the right by a canal, with the dunes and thick native grasses framing the left and rear. Though narrow, the approach is open in the front, with a rolling collar area providing the players some room to miss left. A new tee has been added measuring 300 yards, which could make for an exciting risk/reward tee shot on the weekend. This greenside spectator viewing area also provides action of the thirteenth and fifteenth.
While the previous two holes are birdie opportunities, No. 12 isn’t. There is a very large landing area for drives since fairway was added on the left in 1997. Additionally, quite a bit of roughline was added close to the large drop-off along the right side fairway. Prior to 1997, the rough was cut close. The added roughline catches balls before they drop over the edge. This greatly increased pace of play eliminating many lost balls.
The strongest part of this hole is on the approach shot. The approach is severely downhill. There’s a big undulation on the left center of the green making it a tough up-and-down. A collection area on the back of the green was also added in 1997 for shots hit through the green. Again, finesse on your second shot is key.
The thirteenth may be the most difficult hole on the inward nine. The canal on this monster 497-yard par-4 will certainly come into play on the tee shots. The players must decide just how far down the canal they will try to carry, setting up a demanding approach. The canal continues down the entire right side of the hole, however, the approach is open to the run up shot, but guarded by two deep sand areas on the left. Don’t be surprised to see shots missing this green to the left. This is as far west as the course reaches and is yet another prime spectator viewing area.
Another risk/reward drive. You can bite off as much as you dare. There are two fairway pot bunkers that come into play as well. The green, with water on the right and bunkers on the left, is long and narrow where pin placement can make club selection problematic. From the whites it’s a very short hole but has a very narrow landing area. The rear Tournament tee box was greatly expanded in 2002, providing a multitude of options for tournament setup.
In 2003, Dye altered the fairway pot bunker, removing the dunes grasses, elevating it and splitting it into two bunkers making it much more visible and, if hit, more challenging.
Since the fifth hole, the course has been playing to the west. But at No. 14, The Ocean Course turns back to the east and plays directly along the beach with five of the most dramatic finishing holes in golf. Although not as notorious as No. 17, this 238-yard par-3 will certainly play a major factor in determining the outcome of the Championship. A tee shot missing this severely exposed and elevated green will leave a severe uphill chip or pitch to save par. An extremely deep and dangerous sand area, bordering the left of the green, will also cause difficulties. From the tee, the rear portion of the putting surface is hidden from the players view and the green slopes from front to back making this hole play more difficult down-wind with many shots rolling over the green into a huge, deep collection area. Wind will also affect putts, as the putting surface is the most exposed on the golf course. This is perhaps the most beautiful golf hole on The Ocean Course but also one of the most treacherous.
The tee at No. 14 is one of the most dynamic ocean views on the course. It’s also one of the most nerve-wracking views to an elevated, table-top green with trouble nearly everywhere. The only place you can miss it front right. Miss it anywhere else and you’ll have a hard time recovering. There’s quite a bit of room behind this green but it’s a tough up-and-down.
Players can hit almost any club in the bag here depending on the wind and the tee placement. In 1997, both the white and the red teeing areas were enlarged allowing more teeing options in different weather conditions. Like on No. 3, the grass on the approaches was changed in 1997, making it easier for resort players. This may be one of the best designed par-3 on the east coast.
The 444-yard par-4 fifteenth is a seemingly straightforward hole that often gets overlooked, much to the player’s peril. The tee shot must find the fairway to set up a mid-iron into the green set down into a natural dune area making it difficult to determine wind speed and direction. The green runs diagonally to the left away from the player with natural sand areas left and back right.
This is just a good, solid, straight up golf hole. A big landing area on a fairly short, incredibly esthetic par-4. From the white tees, players are standing right next to the ocean. Prior to 1997, there was no room behind the green so a collection area was added allowing players a recovery for long shots.
A straight away 581 yard par-5, sixteen will require the players to carry the tee shot over a pond to reach a terraced fairway that is higher to the right side. A long shallow natural sand area guards the second shot to the right, with another sand area, this one much deeper, guarding the left side of the green which is perched high on a dune ridge. Downwind this hole will provide a great chance for birdie or eagle with many players going for the green in two. Those that successfully navigate the extremely deep and dangerous sand area guarding the left side of this green will set themselves up for a late charge. This hole could provide tremendous drama down the closing stretch of the Championship.
A good risk/reward from the forward tees where players can reach the hole in two. From the back tees, it’s a three shot par-5 unless it’s playing with a strong tailwind. The second shot landing area narrows down quite a bit. The toughest part of this hole is your third shot. It’s a very intimidating shot where having the correct yardage is essential. Into the wind, don’t be surprised with a long iron third shot.
There is a big transition area with a steep face up by the green. In 1997, turf was added to the right in the landing area and behind the green. Even so, there’s still not much room back there so accuracy is at a premium.
The area near the pond on the left side of the tee-shot landing area and the bunker in front of the green were cleared of dunes grasses in 2003.
The Sunday tee shot on this 223 yard par-3 may very well decide who will hoist the Wanamaker trophy and be crowned the 94th PGA Champion. The target appears narrow, and is fiercely guarded by water short and to the right, with two deep sand areas to the left. Players that play this hole even par for the championship will certainly be rewarded and keep themselves in contention. The seventeenth provides yet another prime spectator viewing area with the tenth and eighteenth in close proximity.
Tons of teeing options on both sides of the pond. You’ll see a lot of players standing on the back tee to see what Ryder Cup players had to face, especially on windy days (however, it was never played from the far back tees). Wind plays a big part in the strategy for playing the hole. The bail-out area on the left was enlarged in 1997. Any dry shot is a good shot on this hole.
In 2002, the pronounced mound mid-green was softened, making the player shoot for the pin rather than play it off the mound.
Still with the Atlantic just to the right, the 501-yard par-4 eighteenth finishing hole is one of the strongest on the course. Driving to a fairway that rolls up, and then falls away to the right, the best drives will hug the right side of the fairway. Longer players may have a significant advantage if they challenge the right side, carry the crest of the hill and reach the lower level of the fairway resulting in a much shorter second shot. The elevated green is open from the right and runs away to the back left. Into the wind, most players will not be able to reach the bottom of the fairway slope and they will face a 200 plus yard second shot to a narrow well-protected green. The wind will determine whether players fire at the flag with mid irons or simply try to hit the green with long irons or fairway metals.
A great finishing hole. Many believe its redesign makes is the best and toughest hole on the golf course. There’s a premium on the drive and on the second shot. The drive over the waste area is intimidating for the average player. Players are looking down at the hole for their second shot with a panoramic view of the ocean and the dunes in the background. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Players driving over the crest will see their ball run down the fairway to a point where mounds were created to stop their balls before they reach the rough. The green complex was moved approximately 25 yards closer to the Atlantic Ocean in 2002 and elevated. This move made this already challenging hole 6 yards longer. Into the wind, look for even the best players to pull out a long iron or more to reach this treacherous green.