SC golf community

Kiawah Island SC

Kiawah Island, SC: New No. 1 Best of the Best

Welcome to GolfCourseHome’s 2011 “Best of the Best” community rankings. The fourth annual compendium created by the Editors of GolfCourseHome, it spotlights and celebrates the major media rankings of GCH communities, their amenities and their lifestyle. See below for this year’s winners which starts off with a new No. 1.

As far back as the 1960s, golf publications have been fielding legions of “raters” armed with precise evaluation sheets to judge the specific qualities of golf courses at clubs, resorts and communities. As these rankings and “best of” lists proliferate, it’s impossible for a reader to keep straight which properties have earned what distinction.

The Ultimate Compilation
That’s where the GolfCourseHome Network comes in. We study, capture and aggregate all the prominent lists, from Best in State to Best Residential to Best Public to Best Private to Best Classic to Best Modern from Top 100 to Top 50, plus accolades from Forbes, Where to Retire magazine and beyond.

Rather than send out field researchers and raters to cobble together our own, proprietary ranking system, GolfCourseHome leverages the value of all existing rankings to create a full-scale compilation you won’t find anywhere else. The lists keep changing with each new addition—either annually or biennially—so we wipe our own slate clean and reassemble this report each year.

A New No. 1
Of note this year is that the GCH Best of the Best list has a new No. 1—Kiawah Island, SC (18 major awards)—whose Ocean Course has been selected as the host course for the 2012 PGA Championship. Reynolds Plantation, GA, which had topped the rankings the past three years moves into the No. 2 spot. Six of the Top 10 are new to the list while four communities are repeat winners.

Below, for your convenience, are the Top 10 GolfCourseHome communities that have each received multiple accolades in 2011, plus three Communities of Distinction. It’s an omnibus ranking we call the “Best of the Best.”

Click on the community name below to jump to the full award description.

2011 GCH ‘Best of the Best Communities

1. Kiawah Island, SC – 18 major media awards

2. Reynolds Plantation, Greensboro GA – 15 awards

3. Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island, SC – 11 awards

4. Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, SC – 6 awards

5. The Communities of Branson Creek, Hollister, MO – 6 awards

6. Colleton River Plantation, Bluffton, SC – 6 awards

7. Desert Mountain, Scottsdale, AZ – 6 awards

8. Kingsmill on the James, Williamsburg, VA – 5 awards

9. Isleworth, Windermere, FL – 4 awards

10. Victoria Park, Deland, FL – 4 awards

Communities of Distinction

Daniel Island, SC – 2 awards

Woodside Plantation, Aiken SC – 2 awards

Frenchman’s Creek, Palm Beach Gardens, FL – 2 awards

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1. Kiawah Island, SC will take center stage as golf’s major-championship season comes to a climax with the 2012 PGA Championship, to be contested on America’s ultimate test, the Ocean Course. If you visit the famed oceanfront resort community to see the tournament, schedule some extra time to enjoy gourmet dining and check out Kiawah’s full portfolio of acclaimed courses.

  • No. 26 on Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses (Ocean Course)
  • No. 4 on Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Public Courses (Ocean)
  • No. 1 on Golf Digest’s Best Courses in South Carolina (Ocean)
  • No. 3 on Golf Digest’s Best Courses in South Carolina (River Course)
  • No. 45 on GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the World (Ocean)
  • No. 27 on GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the U.S. (Ocean)
  • No. 4 on GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play (Ocean)
  • No. 1 on GOLF Magazine’s Best Public Courses in South Carolina (Ocean)
  • No. 20 on GOLF Magazine’s Best Public Courses in South Carolina (Osprey Point Course)
  • No. 20 on Golfweek’s Best Modern Courses (Ocean)
  • No. 9 on Golfweek’s Best Resort Courses (Ocean)
  • No. 86 on Golfweek’s Best Residential Courses (River)
  • No. 1 on Golfweek’s Best Public Courses in South Carolina (Ocean)
  • No. 1 Resort Course on the Golf World Readers’ Choice Rankings (Ocean)
  • No. 39 Private Club on the Golf World Readers’ Choice Rankings (Kiawah Island Club)
  • A Premier Property by LINKS Magazine
  • No. 12 on the Top 15 Residential Communities by Platinum Club of America
  • One of the 12 Best Residential Golf Communities by Forbes.com
  • Click here for more information about Kiawah Island

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2. Reynolds Plantation, Greensboro GA is prized by home buyers and travelers alike as a citadel of luxury and recreation. Ambitious in scale but charmingly hospitable, it’s a resort community that avid golfers need a week’s time to fully explore and enjoy. The community is currently honored as follows:

  • No. 37 on GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play (Great Waters Course)
  • No. 57 on GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play (Oconee Course)
  • No. 3 on GOLF Magazine’s Best Public Courses in Georgia (Great Waters)
  • No. 4 on GOLF Magazine’s Best Public Courses in Georgia (Oconee)
  • No. 5 on GOLF Magazine’s Best Public Courses in Georgia (National Course)
  • No. 11 on GOLF Magazine’s Best Public Courses in Georgia (Landing Course)
  • No. 15 on GOLF Magazine’s Best Public Courses in Georgia (Plantation Course)
  • No. 43 on Golfweek’s Best Resort Courses (Great Waters)
  • No. 3 on Golfweek’s Best Public Courses in Georgia (Great Waters)
  • No. 9 on Golfweek’s Best Public Courses in Georgia (National)
  • No. 44 Private Club on the Golf World Readers’ Choice Rankings (Reynolds Landing Club)
  • No. 6 Resort Course on the Golf World Readers’ Choice Rankings (Plantation Course)
  • A Premier Property by LINKS Magazine
  • Honorable Mention on the Top 15 Residential Communities by Platinum Club of America
  • One of the 12 Best Residential Golf Communities by Forbes.com
  • Click here for more information about Reynolds Plantation

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3. Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island SC is known for its pioneering place in the luxury world of gated golf communities, and for its world-class golf plus a vast array of natural and recreational amenities. Harbour Town, a destination all its own within Sea Pines, has been making family-vacation memories for nearly three generations.

  • No. 100 on Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses (Harbour Town Golf Links)
  • No. 21 on Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Public Courses (Harbour Town)
  • No. 5 on Golf Digest’s Best Courses in South Carolina (Harbour Town)
  • No. 78 on GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the World (Harbour Town)
  • No. 45 on GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the U.S. (Harbour Town)
  • No. 14 on GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play (Harbour Town)
  • No. 2 on GOLF Magazine’s Best Public Courses in South Carolina (Harbour Town)
  • No. 42 on Golfweek’s Best Modern Courses (Harbour Town)
  • No. 12 on Golfweek’s Best Resort Courses (Harbour Town)
  • No. 2 on Golfweek’s Best Public Courses in South Carolina (Harbour Town)
  • A Premier Property by LINKS Magazine
  • Click here for more information about Sea Pines

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4. Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton SC and its soulful but daunting May River Course designed by Jack Nicklaus, has been filling the trophy room with honors since it opened a decade ago. This 20,000-acre Lowcountry haven, where corporate titans once hunted wild boar, borders the May River and provides the finest in boutique hotel accommodations at its Auberge-managed Inn at Palmetto Bluff.

  • No. 22 on Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Public Courses (May River Course)
  • No. 7 on Golf Digest’s Best Courses in South Carolina (May River)
  • No. 62 on GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play (May River)
  • No. 5 on GOLF Magazine’s Best Public Courses in South Carolina (May River)
  • No. 23 on Golfweek’s Best Resort Courses (May River)
  • No. 4 on Golfweek’s Best Public Courses in South Carolina (May River)
  • Click here for more information about Palmetto Bluff

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5. The Communities of Branson Creek, Hollister MO is the place to live if your vacation home or retirement abode requires a full array of golf and entertainment options. Known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Branson truly keeps the night life lively, while by day it gives you all the great golf you can handle.

  • No. 9 on Golf Digest’s Best Courses in Virginia (Branson Creek Course)
  • No. 82 on GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play (Hollister Course)
  • No. 1 on GOLF Magazine’s Best Public Courses in Missouri (Hollister)
  • No. 1 on Golfweek’s Best Public Courses in Missouri (Hollister)
  • No. 4 on Golfweek’s Best Public Courses in Missouri (Murder Rock Course)
  • A Where to Retire Magazine Top 50 Golf Community
  • Click here for more information about The Communities of Branson Creek

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6. Colleton River Plantation, Bluffton SC is one of the Lowcountry region’s truly prestigious private golf communities. Located 1.5 miles from the bridge to Hilton Head Island, it features two championship golf courses, designed by Jack Nicklaus and Pete Dye, which continue to enjoy the fond approval of course aficiondos and ratings boards.  If you enjoy tennis, swimming, hiking, biking, fishing, boating and the Lowcountry lifestyle, it’s all here.

  • No. 14 on Golf Digest’s Best Courses in South Carolina (Nicklaus Course)
  • No. 18 on Golf Digest’s Best Courses in South Carolina (Dye Course)
  • No. 79 on Golfweek’s Best Residential Courses (Nicklaus)
  • No. 19 Private Club on the Golf World Readers’ Choice Rankings (Nicklaus & Dye Courses)
  • No. 13 on the Top 15 Residential Communities by Platinum Club of America
  • A Premier Property by LINKS Magazine
  • Click here for more information about Colleton River Plantation


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7. Desert Mountain, Scottsdale AZ looks down upon the city lights of Scottsdale from a perch as lofty as its reputation for luxury desert living.  Amenities in The Desert Mountain Club include six Championship Jack Nicklaus “Signature” golf courses that are up for consideration whenever the experts compile their rankings:

  • No. 15 on Golf Digest’s Best Courses in Arizona (Geronimo Course)
  • No. 16 on Golf Digest’s Best Courses in Arizona (Renegade Course)
  • No. 17 on Golf Digest’s Best Courses in Arizona (Chiricahua Course)
  • No. 93 on Golfweek’s Best Residential Courses (Chiricahua)
  • A Premier Property by LINKS Magazine
  • No. 5 on the Top 15 Residential Communities by Platinum Club of America
  • Click here for more information about Desert Mountain

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8. Kingsmill on the James, Williamsburg VA is the resort community that gives this historic colonial area a dose of golf-resort star power. Residents play their golf on a brawny layout that boasts a long history of PGA Tour competition—they also navigate the mighty James via a full-service marina that includes 90 permanent slips, plus transient docks.

  • No. 79 on Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Public Courses (River Course)
  • No. 16 on Golf Digest’s Best Courses in Virginia (River)
  • No. 5 on GOLF Magazine’s Best Public Courses in Virginia (River)
  • No. 9 on Golfweek’s Best Public Courses in Virginia (River)
  • A Premier Property by LINKS Magazine
  • Click here for more information about Kingsmill

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9. Isleworth, Windermere FL was beloved by its affluent golfing residents even before architect Steve Smyers oversaw masterful renovation to gated community’s lakeland golf course. Downtown Orlando and the theme parks are close in miles but seem a world away from this redoubt of noble estates and handsome private homes.

  • No. 14 on Golf Digest’s Best Courses in Florida
  • No. 85 on Golfweek’s Best Residential Courses
  • A Premier Property by LINKS Magazine
  • No. 4 on the Top 15 Residential Communities by Platinum Club of America
  • Click here for more information about Isleworth

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10. Victoria Park, Deland FL is a family-oriented community in the heart of what golf course experts now refer to as the “Florida Sandbelt.” Its Ron Garl-designed layout takes utmost advantage of this tailor-made environment for course-crafting.

  • No. 14 on Golfweek’s Best Public Courses in Florida (Victoria Hills Course)
  • No. 10 on GOLF Magazine’s Best Public Courses in Florida (Victorian Hills)
  • No. 41 Public Course on the Golf World Readers’ Choice Rankings (Victoria Hills)

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GCH Communities of Distinction

Daniel Island, SC is an island town with a natural, walkable ambiance that belies its careful long-range planning. Neighborhoods surround golf, world-class tennis and quiet stretches of Lowcountry marsh.

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Woodside Plantation, Aiken SC is set on a rolling landscape near the historic city of Aiken. Its 2,900 pristine acres is noted by golf experts for its Reserve Club, home to one of Jack Nicklaus’s most enduring parkland designs

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Frenchman’s Creek, Palm Beach Gardens FL is a residents-only, year-round country club long considered among the finest communities in South Florida. Highlights of the community are its private oceanfront Beach Club, along with two renovated and redesigned 18-hole golf courses.

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