18th Hole - The Ocean Course, Hole 14

by Stephen Youngner, PGA
Head Professional

The Ocean Course is home to some of the most beautiful and challenging holes in the game of golf. Each has a distinctive quality and presents its own identity, challenges and character. While all the holes at The Ocean Course can truly stand on their own, undoubtedly, the 17th hole is one the most famous. This is due, in large part, to the 1991 Ryder Cup and the drama that occurred on this treacherous par three. However, the less famous par three 14th hole may actually be the best of the four outstanding par threes on the golf course.

After playing 10 holes directly towards the West, the 14th turns back to the east to start five of the best finishing holes in golf. This abrupt change in wind direction requires a dramatic adjustment in mindset, club selection, and strategy from the previous ten holes.

Golfers face a dramatic tee shot played directly towards the Atlantic Ocean to a large table top green that appears to sit on top of the sand dunes. Any shot missing long looks like it would end up amongst the dunes rather than the extremely deep grass collection area guarding the back of the green. Avoid the left which is guarded by one of the deepest sandy waste areas on the entire golf course.

Any shot that finds the putting surface is a great play, especially considering the hole can be stretched to 238 yards, the official yardage for the upcoming 2012 PGA Championship. Even from a much tamer Dye tee yardage of 161 yards, hitting the green is especially important due to the severe contours of the green surrounds. A dramatic elevation change of up to 20 feet of closely mown turf guards the front, right and rear of this elevated green. A variety of choices face you if you find yourself in one of these collection areas, ranging from a putter to a lob wedge to a bump and run with a 7 iron. But rest assured, unless crisp contact is made and your distance control and trajectory is just right you may have a second chance at the shot as it rolls right back to your feet or even over the green on the other side.

The perfect tee shot will favor the right front side of the green, especially in downwind conditions, and the golf ball will feed towards the back and center of the green. Be aware of the wind on putts as this is one of the most exposed greens on the golf course. Never forget to pause and take in the magnificent views of the dunes, golf course and, of course, The Atlantic Ocean both from the tee and also the green on the hidden gem 14th hole at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. We hope to see you soon at Kiawah and we hope you enjoy the 2012 PGA Championship.