Much like a wild beast, Kiawah – a South Carolina barrier island known for its strong winds – is visually stunning, and tenaciously powerful. The island's beach golf course is so intricate Golf Digest ranked it number one on their list of ‘America’s 20 Toughest Golf Courses’ and their panelists had this to say about its feral nature:
- "I think the 17th hole is the toughest par 3 in the world. If the wind blows, watch out."
- "The course is really, really challenging for all levels of player. When the wind is blowing, par on many of the holes is an excellent score."
- "If your idea of a good time is a fistfight, this is the place for you."
Great news for golf enthusiasts who enjoy watching a difficult game, Kiawah will be the official course for the P.G.A. Championship this Thursday.
What specifically is so challenging about this course? Well for starters it has a slope rating of 153, over 40 points over the average course rating of 113, and its heavy winds combined with its sandy holes, make for a ferocious landscape for the world’s best to compete in for this year’s tile.
However, there are some pardoning graces involved in this year’s games. After 2010’s frustratingly nerve-racking struggle by Dustin Johnson to get a clear shot through natural debris, PGA introduced a ‘through the green’ rule which will allow competitors the right to remove debris and loose impediments that block their shot, and surround their club in sandy areas.
This law will be extended for Kiawah’s tough sandy parts, and for good reason, the game would take forever if contenders were forced to play the holes just as they are. The course is approximately 7,700 yards and was developed my architect Pete Dye.
Let’s hope Dye’s name is not a divine hint foreshadowing this year’s morbidly difficult championship.
Video: Kiawa's Ocean Course