Top Courses in the South: How Many Have You Played?

By Ryan Watson

The American South has a long tradition of excellent golf courses. While the cream of the crop may be Augusta National Golf Club, the very exclusive home of the Masters, there remains many high quality courses that are open to the public. The warmer climates of the South allow for a longer playing season than many northern states and make the region a popular travel destination for golfers during the winter. The following is a list of the best courses in the South.

The Old White TPC Course at The Greenbrier Resort

300 W. Main Street,
White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986
(855) 453-4858

West Virginia's Greenbrier Resort has been hosting guests since the 1700s, including over half of all the U.S. presidents, and is also home to the oldest American golf course. While that course is members only, the public can play the 1914 Charles Blair Macdonald designed Old White TPC Course. Home of The Greenbrier Classic, an annual PGA Tour Event, the course provides an opportunity for amateurs to play the same course as the best in the world.

Great Waters at Reynolds Lake Oconee

100 Linger Longer Road
Greensboro, GA 30642
(800) 800-5250

Great Waters is one of the great courses designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus. Located at the Reynolds Lake Oconee Resort in Greensboro, GA, the course has been host to many prestigious tournaments since it opened in 1992. The course has a bit of a split personality, with the front 9 winding through forested hills while the back 9 is almost exclusively on the banks of Lake Oconee. Great Waters provides gorgeous views and a challenging course for any golfer.

No. 2 at Pinehurst Resort

80 Carolina Vista Drive
Pinehurst, NC 28374
(855) 235-8507

The course known simply as "No. 2" was designed by Donald Ross in 1907 has played host to both the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women's Open Championship. This championship caliber course features crowned greens that have been known to make or break a golfer's score. The course demands strategy from players and rewards accurate shot shaping.

The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort

200 Ocean Crest Drive
Palm Coast, FL 32137
(866) 841-0287

The Ocean Course tests golfers along the beautiful Atlantic coast and is another Jack Nicklaus designed course. Featuring a varied landscape of lakes, marshes, and coastline, the Ocean course has continually been ranked as one of Florida's best courses, and one of the best golf courses in all of the South. The so-called "Bear Claw" is a series of four holes directly on the coastline that finish off this remarkable course.

Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines Resort

32 Greenwood Drive
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
(866) 561-8802

Harbour Town Golf Links is known for hosting the annual RBC Heritage Tournament, a PGA Tour event. This is a unique course both for amateur and professional golfers alike, as the course has a much shorter yardage than many other championship caliber courses. What the course lacks in long yardages it makes up for in tight greens that punishes inaccurate shots. In addition, numerous water hazards and trees, as well as strong coastal winds, make for a very demanding course. The course is open year round to the public, which is why it made our list of the greatest Hilton Head golf courses you can play.

The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass

110 Championship Way
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
(904) 273-3235

The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass plays host to the yearly Players Championship which boasts the highest prize fund of any PGA Tour event. Sometimes referred to as the "fifth major," this course was designed specifically to host the event and can seat 36,000 spectators. The course was designed by Pete and Alice Dye to challenge golfers by providing a balanced course that incorporated all styles of course design. The Stadium Course is also home to the famous island green on the 17th hole, providing an opportunity for amateurs to try their hand at one of golf's most difficult holes.

Tobacco Road Golf Club

442 Tobacco Road
Sanford, NC 27332
(877) 284-3762

The course at Tobacco Road Golf Club was designed by Mike Strantz to incorporate what had formerly been a sand quarry. It is renown for its individuality, and Strantz saw his course design as a work of art. Noted for having multiple ways to play most holes as well as the use of blind shots, the course is in many ways the epitome of a high risk/reward course. As a result, beginning golfers may find the course intimidating but it is well worth the trip for more experienced golfers.

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Golf Resort

Kiawah Island Golf Resort
One Sanctuary Beach Drive
Kiawah Island, SC 29455
(800) 654-2924

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Golf Resort boasts the most seaside holes in the Northern Hemisphere with 10 of 18 holes located directly on the coastline. The quality of the course is attested by the tournaments it has hosted; the course has hosted a Ryder Cup, PGA and Senior PGA Championships and is scheduled to host the 2021 PGA championship. In addition to the spectacular views, the course is best known for the strong and unpredictable winds which act as an ever-changing hazard.

Ross Bridge Golf Resort

4000 Grand Avenue
Birmingham, AL 35226
(205) 916-7677

One of the longest courses in the world, the course at Marriot's Ross Bridge Golf Resort is a challenging course built largely in the parkland style alongside two lakes. Elevation changes are used throughout to provide an extra challenges, while an 80-foot waterfall located between the ninth and eighteenth greens provide spectacular views. This is also a course that rewards golfers with a strong putting game, and the multiple tees allow even beginning players to still have an enjoyable round of golf.

Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club and Lodge

9000 Bay Hill Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 876-2429

The Champion course at Bay Hill Club and Lodge is a championship caliber course that was designed by legendary golfer and owner (until his death in 2016) Arnold Palmer. It is known for its challenging design which forces players into critical decision making and rewards accuracy. It is also home to the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational. While not technically a public course, it is available to any person who decides to stay at the lodge.

Fallen Oak at Beau Rivage Resort

24400 Highway 15
North Saucier, MS 39574
(877) 805-4657

Available to guests of the Beau Rivage Resort near Biloxi, MS, Fallen Oak is a course designed by the legendary Tom Fazio. Fallen Oak is generally considered the best course in Mississippi, multiple tees allow for a challenging course that is still accessible to golfers of all levels. The 7,487 yard course winds through marshlands and passed lakes and wetlands. Uniquely southern, golfers will also play through groves of pecan and magnolia trees. As such, golfers that can stand the heat in May and June can expect to see the large fragrant white blossoms. For this and more, Fallen Oak remains a must play for golfers in the Deep South.

Gold Course at Golden Horseshoe Golf Club

401 S England Street
Williamsburg, VA 23185
(757) 220-7696

The Gold Course in historic Williamsburg, VA has become a family affair. Originally designed by Robert Trent Jones, the Gold Course was renovated in 2017 by Jones' son Rees. The course meanders through wooded areas and around a lake. The lake plays prominently on the famous 16th hole on the course which features a downward sloping par-3 onto an island green surrounded by sand bunkers. The brilliant panoramic views of the countryside and the demands of the course layout ensure a wonderful round of golf for anyone on their trip to colonial Williamsburg.

About the Author

Ryan Watson is a freelance sportswriter and history professor. He has been an avid fan of golf since his father signed him up for golf camp as a young child. Ryan enjoys following the professional game and learning about new equipment and gadgets.