Ask any serious golfer about Tom Fazio, and the response will include a laundry list of awards won by the much-honored designer of such legendary golf courses as Pinehurst #8, Pelican Hill and the PGA National Golf Club. But it was the Wild Dunes Links Course, constructed in 1980, that made Fazio’s sterling reputation. Set on the Isle of Palms, a barrier island near Charleston, the award-winning Wild Dunes Links course, with its rough edges that blend into the island’s wetlands, dunes and forests, was an immediate smash hit that demonstrated the unique talents of the man even his competitors have called “the king of architects.”
An artistic as well as an athletic accomplishment, the Links plays to a par 72 from both the men’s and women’s tees, with a challenging path through huge sand dunes and an incredible finish along the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean.
Wild Dunes Links features narrow, rolling fairways, pot bunkers and elevated greens, and the wind off the ocean always plays a critical role in club selection. The course is reminiscent of the grandest traditional Scottish links layouts.
Its many honors include Golf magazine’s rating among the “Top 100 Courses You Can Play in the U.S.”: 60th in 1995, 93rd in 1997 and 32nd in 1998. Golfweek also named Wild Dunes Links 24th best out of “America’s 100 Best Modern Courses” for 1997.
However, this exceptional challenge is not all Wild Dunes has to offer. A second regulation 18 holes, also designed by Fazio, complements the Links. The Wild Dunes Harbor Course is an intricate layout that plays to a deceptive par 70 with a well-designed mix of short and long holes and water on every hole but one.
Careful study of the terrain and skillful shot placement are rewarded on the Harbor Course, with its six par 3s, fairways edging up to saltwater marshes, lagoons and the Intracoastal Waterway, demanding landing areas and well-protected greens.
Best hole? Most players would agree on number 17, a 464-yard par 4 dogleg left with a tight landing area framed by the marsh on the left and out of bounds on the right, playing to a two-tiered green protected by a large bunker and marsh.