The course: With no fewer than seven courses - five public and two private - it’s no surprise Kiawah was named the Number One Golf Resort in North America by Golf World. The most famous 18 holes is the Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course, which hosted the infamous ‘war on the shore’ 1991 Ryder Cup, but the original River Course, a Tom Fazio creation, and his Osprey Point are just as good. Lakes, fingers of saltwater marsh, and dense maritime forests of oaks, palmettos and magnolias make for a stunning seascape, and many lost balls. The Kiawah Island Club costs $150,000 to join, and $12,000 annually.
The location: There is an easy-going old-fashioned charm about nearby Charleston and its environs. Since 1988, development at Kiawah itself has taken place under the watchful but genial eye of Buddy Darby who has transformed it into a world-class golf destination. The ten miles of Atlantic beach and protected habitat is as hospitable to migrating seabirds, white-tailed deer and bobcat, as it is to full-time residents and guests at the Sanctuary five-star hotel. Charleston airport is 33 miles away.
Get your own clubhouse at: Most of the real estate at Kiawah is ‘mature’, and priced in multi-millions, but there are new niche developments like the Cottages at Cypress Point starting at $1.1 million, still coming on the market. Built across a lagoon opposite the fifth hole of the River Course, under large canopy trees, the price of the Cottages includes membership of The Kiawah Island Club, only available with local property ownership.
Celebrity members: Lending a little glamour, Reese Witherspoon, George Clooney, Bruce Willis and Richard Gere are all regulars on the Island. The Ocean Course itself starred in the Will Smith, Matt Damon movie The Legend of Bagger Vance directed by Robert Redford.
Read more about the other Primelocation.com Top 20 Best Golf Resorts.