Pat James: The 5 best courses I’ve ever played in the Carolinas

The clubhouse and 18th hole at Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s Ocean Course. Photo courtesy of Steve Uzzell / Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

The list of North and South Carolina courses that I’ve played might not be as extensive as some of my colleagues’. But it doesn’t lack variety.

From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Charleston shore, I’ve been fortunate enough to play at multiple courses throughout both states, including some that are considered the best in their respective regions.

However, there are a few that stand out. These are my five favorites courses that I’ve played to date, listed in no particular order.

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How residents, golfers are ‘restoring the tradition’ at this North Augusta course

The fifth and sixth holes on the Vintage nine feature one of the stacked-stone bridges at Mount Vintage Golf Club. Photo courtesy of Mount Vintage Golf Club.

When Gregg Karlberg bought his home in North Augusta’s Mount Vintage community in 2008, the “Class A conditions” at Mount Vintage Golf Club helped influence his decision.

Located about 17 miles north of Augusta National Golf Club, Mount Vintage’s three distinct nines – the Chester, Independent and Vintage – resemble the prestigious course just across the South Carolina state line, with a parkland layout and stacked-stone bridges.

Yet, like many courses, Mount Vintage struggled during the 2008 recession.

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Mike Purkey: There’s more than just seafood in Brunswick County – don’t miss these golf courses

The 18th hole at Ocean Ridge Plantation’s Leopard’s Chase course features a massive waterfall. Photo courtesy of Ocean Ridge Plantation.

To most, it’s the northernmost tip of Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand, the famous stretch of shoreline that runs down part of the South Carolina coast. But to the locals, Brunswick County is North Carolina’s Golf Coast.

More than 35 courses are located in that county, which includes the barrier Brunswick Islands, sandwiched between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean.

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Why Lancaster’s Edgewater Golf Club is one of the top courses in South Carolina

Edgewater Golf Club’s fairways, including the 16th hole’s (pictured), are aligned with pine trees. Photo courtesy of Edgewater Golf Club.

When asked what the top two courses in South Carolina are, most golfers reference Hilton Head Island’s Harbour Town Golf Links and The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

Both courses warrant such recognition. Harbour Town, the home of the RBC Heritage, features one of golf’s most revered finishing holes, and The Ocean Course, with more seaside holes than any other course in the Northern Hemisphere, will host its second PGA Championship in 2021.

Yet, when Golf Advisor released its list of South Carolina’s top 25 courses for 2016, compiled using customer ratings and reviews, a less heralded course was sandwiched between those two.

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Why Mebane’s Mill Creek Golf Club is the Triad’s hidden gem

The 18th hole at Mill Creek Golf Club features two separate fairways, making it one of the most unique holes in the Triad.

From the Old Town Club in Winston Salem, where Arnold Palmer and Wake Forest University’s connections run deep, to the Wyndham Championship’s home at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, the Triad is considered one of golf’s Southeast hotbeds.

The abundance of courses in the area that carry similar historical significance can cause some to go overlooked. And Mill Creek Golf Club in Mebane is one of the region’s best-kept secrets.

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