To Kiawah and Beyond

Here's a little story about the Ocean course at Kiawah Island.

For various complicated reasons, in several trips to Kiawah I had never gotten out on it. Obligations, weather, whatever—just didn't happen. So I was practically salivating on the eve of a return visit a few months ago, as I was determined to do nothing if not play the O.C. Then, wouldn't you know it, two days before I was to head down there I smashed my left foot into a doorjamb and broke a toe.

Crikey! (That's not what I shouted, but what I wish I had, because now one of my two-year-old twins knows a word he's not supposed to.)

Anyway, fractured digit and all, I got on my flight. No way was I not playing, yet again, the site of the "War by the Shore" Ryder Cup of 1991 (and the course scheduled to host the 2012 PGA Championship). But here's the sick part: When I finally did arrive, I walked it. Sure, they offered me a cart, but I just couldn't bring myself to use it. My first time out on Pete Dye's Mona Lisa?I was walking, no matter what. I would be all but confined to a wheelchair afterward, but I limped and winced my way around the sensational seaside links, hobbling up and down dunes and getting blown hither and yon by the infamous ocean wind.

And loving every toe-throbbing minute of it.

That's how great the Ocean course is.

But wait a minute! I don't need to tell you that—you just told me, in the results of our 2006 World's Best Golf Resort survey. For the first time, you rated Kiawah Island Golf Resort above all others in our annual poll of the best of the best. A perennial top ten, it climbed to the head of the field this year, surely on the strength of the smashing new Sanctuary hotel, which was added in 2004—certainly the Ocean course did its part, too, by winning as the top resort course in the Southeast.

Overall, that region fares pretty well this issue—it's also where contributing editor Bob Cullen found a prototype for the golf destination of the future: Reynolds Plantation, Georgia. See his report, "Way Beyond the Buddy Trip." I think you'll agree that the future looks pretty bright.