The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island
South Carolina, United States of America

Third hole, 365 yards; Yet another example of why Dye is the master in modern architecture of holes under 400 yards. The fairway itself is one of the widest on the course but as befits a hole of this length, the small 3,000 square foot green may be the most elusive target on the course. The plateau green is flat and offers little help in stopping the player’s approach shot. If the flag is front left, the golfer plays his tee shot wide right. If the hole location is back right, the better angle is from the left side of the fairway. Importantly, Dye made the fairway wide enough so that the thinking golfer has real options available to him.

The simple, yet elusive, tiny 3rd green which falls away on all sides. Why aren’t more green complexes built like it?

Many of the green complexes at Kiawah are built up three to seven feet from their surrounds. Just off such greens as at the 2nd, here at the 3rd, the 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th and 14th and the golfer will face an interesting recovery shot. Is a pitch or bump and run the best?

Fourth hole, 390 yards; The end to one of golf’s toughest starts, the golfer again faces a forced carry from the tee followed by an exacting approach shot. Once too awkward to be considered a great hole, Dye improved it in 2002 when he was granted the ability to enlarge the fairway to the left. The golfer now has a realistic chance of seeking out a good angle of approach to this green. Still,the hole plays hard as a right to left crosswind often complicates the approach into this left to right angled green. Also, as the aerial below suggests, given the essentially treeless environment, Pete Dye, who is a (or perhaps the) master of angles, had the perfect canvas upon which to work.

This aerial shows the desire for drawing the tee ball left of the central bunkers and then fading the approach into the angled green. Asking the golfer to shape the ball both ways on one hole is a favorite design ploy of Dye’s.

On this particular day, the wind was blowing right to left across the hole and made the approach shot into the left to right green particularly taxing.

Fifth hole, 165 yards; The variety of the green complexes at The Ocean Course is already evident: the convoluted 2nd green, the tiny flat 3rd green, the left to right green at the 4th, and now the large right to left green here. This green complex is similar to the 17th at Pebble Beach with an hour-glass shaped green divided by a ridge in the middle. The difference in a front right hole location and a back left one may be as many as three clubs on this 49 yard deep green.

The Ocean Course enjoys great flexibility in its day to day set-up. The picture above shows one of the left hole locations while the picture below shows a front right location. The difference to the golfer is as much as three clubs on the tee.

The difference between this front right hole location and the back left one is 33 paces.

Seventh hole, 505 yards; A dogleg three shotter that plays as a dogleg should: the golfer is tempted to gain an advantage by successfully challenging the hazard on the inside of the dogleg. In this case, his reward is a crack at the green in two. Of course, Dye defends par by the green, which possesses a neat lower right quadrant.

While the center of the fairway is marked by the white stake, the tiger golfer may try to shorten the hole by carrying the sandy area on the right.

However, even if the golfer gets near or on the 7th green in two, a birdie is far from a certainty. The ball in the lower right requires a ticklish pitch to the day’s front hole location whereas the ball on the back edge of the green must ascend a two foot ridge to get near the hole.

Eighth hole, 170 yards; The Reverse Redan characteristics of its green make the 8th one of the sleeper holes on the course. Just short of this built up green and the approach rolls backfive feet tothe green’sbase. Just on and the approach often tracks toward the middle and back hole locations, encouraged as it is by the high left front to lower back right pitch in the green.

Though seemingly straightforward, the 8th isn’t. The golfer can just make out the five foot bank that leads up to the putting surface which in turn is angled and slopes away back right.

Ninth hole, 415 yards; The ninth is a sharp dogleg left, which again dispels the knock that a figure 8 routing means a long slog in but one direction. Refinements to it took place in 2003 and in particular, the golfer now sees the flag from the tee, wooing him well left into taking too ambitious a line off the tee unless he is careful.

The 9th swings left past this bunker where the sea grasses along its face were thinned in 2003 to allow (at least!) for the golfer to find his ball.

Tenth hole, 385 yards; The back nine is a series of arresting holes that are made exceptional by the never ending use of interesting angles. For instance, at the 10th,a massive sand pit must be carried on a diagonal line from the tee in order to gain the best angle into the green, which is open front right.

The daunting view from the back markers at the 10th. Though the longer carry, a tee ball flighted over the right portion of the fairway bunker pictured above leaves the best angle into the green.

Otherwise, approaches from the left of the fairway must contend with a forced carry into the shallowest portion of the green.

As seen across the 10th green, the golfers silhouetted against the skyline on the 18th tee indicates the out and back nature of the back nine routing.

The Ocean Course is a great walking course as sandy path ways lead the golfer on short walks from most green to tees. Pictured above are the caddies heading to the 11th tee.

Eleventh hole, 510 yards; An easy way to give a modest length three shotter some teeth is to find an elevated site for the green. In such a manner, if the player gets off track on one of his first two shots, the elevated target becomes increasingly difficult to hit with a mid or long iron. Such is the case with the 11th at Kiawah, which can un-do the impatient golfer who is accustomed to bullying his way to a birdie on a par five hole by just slapping his second shot somewhere near the green.

Though reachable in two, good luck holding the elevated 11th green with anything other than a short iron.

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