Visitors first come to Charleston to immerse themselves in the city’s rich history and Old World charm. They return for the performing arts, extraordinary dining, first-class shopping and the city’s array of delightful activities.
Charleston traces its golf roots to the mid-1700s. In fact, it has often been labeled “the birthplace of golf in America.” The South Carolina Golf Club, now chartered as the Country Club of Charleston, was founded in 1786 and is recognized by GOLF Magazine as the nation’s first golf club. Today, three resort communities — Isle of Palms, Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island — serve as cornerstones for the local golfing community, but the truth is Lowcountry golfers have dozens of options, and the vast majority of those are open to the public.
At Kiawah Island Golf Resort five stellar courses stretch across the picturesque property — The Ocean Course, Turtle Point, Cougar Point, Osprey Point and Oak Point. The Ocean Course, which was the setting for The Legend of Bagger Vance, has also hosted some of the sport’s biggest tournaments, including the Ryder Cup, two World Cups, the UBS Cup, the PGA Professional National Championship, the Senior PGA and, most recently, the PGA Championship.
Among Charleston’s many charms are its miles of unspoiled seashore. Just a few miles from the storied beauty of downtown Charleston, spectacular beaches beckon visitors with the timeless pleasure of sun and surf.
Just eight miles south of Charleston, Folly Beach is the closest beach to the city and is widely known as the “Edge of America.” The beach is accessible from various points and offers some of the best surfing on the East Coast. The action is at a spot called The Washout on the eastern end of the island, near the Old Coast Guard Station. On the western end of the island, popular Folly Beach County Park offers a full set of amenities, as well as shelter rental and lifeguards that are on duty seasonally along the designated swimming area.
Nearby, the Isle of Palms offers beautiful ocean frontage in an environmentally friendly setting. While public beach access is available at various locations along the coastline, the best point of entry is through the Isle of Palms County Park, which has lifeguards on duty seasonally.
Adjacent to the Isle of Palms, beach lovers have Sullivan’s Island. The public-access beach sits along a three-mile stretch of oceanfront and is known for its soft sand, a wide beach at low tide and Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse. The area is also marked by stations, which refer back to the lifesaving stations for which the island was once known. Today, the beach does not provide lifeguard service nor are there any public facilities. Servicing one of the most diverse recreational areas in the Southeast, the Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission is responsible for maintaining the countywide park system. Currently the commission operates three large, multi-dimensional family parks, three waterparks, three beach parks and a brand-new family trail park designed specifically for walking, running and biking. Additionally, the commission runs a marina, two fishing piers, three dog parks, an equestrian center, campground and cottage.
Those planning a tennis vacation will be happy to know that Tennis Resorts Online ranked three Charleston area resorts within its World’s Top 25 Gold Medal Resorts list: Kiawah Island Golf Resort (No. 1), Wild Dunes Resort (No. 2) and Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort (No. 14).
Kiawah earned top marks by being the standout resort in the categories of Best Staff, Best Tennis Instruction and Programming, Best Overall Children’s Programs and Best Spa. The resort also earned high marks in the Best Lodging and Best Cuisine categories. Its Barth Tennis Academy, within the Kiawah Island Club Sports Pavilion, is home to state-of-the-art courts and top-notch pros. They also offer themed training weekends, including for women and for kids.