Kiawah Island Invests in Course Improvements

Over the past 25 years, Kiawah Island Golf Resort has made significant course improvements to all five of its courses. Such major investment proves that the Resort is never satisfied to rest on its laurels, and demonstrates that its lofty mission—to provide the most outstanding golf resort experience in the world—is not an idle promise.

When Rory McIlroy holed the winning putt at the 2012 PGA Championship at The Ocean Course, he became the first golfer to win a major championship on seaside-friendly Platinum Paspalum grass. The players universally praised the putting surface and endorsed the decision to convert from Bermuda to Paspalum as the right one. He was among the first to experience one of the main improvements to the courses on Kiawah.

When the world’s top golfers tee up for the 2021 PGA Championship, they will be striking the ball from 100 percent Paspalum from teebox to fairway to green—assuming they can manage to keep the ball in the fairway. Ordinary recreational golfers who play the Resort’s courses also benefit from the same characteristics Paspalum offers the pros. The variety has a very dense cluster of blades, which allows the ball to sit up very tall on the fairway, providing the ideal opportunity for an outstanding approach shot. Paspalum grows with no grain, so putts roll very true to the line, so the only breaks the golfer has to read is from contouring of the green.

The conversion to Paspalum was one of many improvements to Kiawah Island Golf Resort over a 20-year period starting in the mid-1990s.

Golf-Turtle Point Clubhouse
Turtle Point Clubhouse

The transformation began back in 1996 with Marsh Point, the original golf course built on Kiawah Island in the late 1970s. The course’s architect, Gary Player, returned for a complete conversion. The course even received a new name, Cougar Point. Those changes were followed in 1997 with the construction of the stately Osprey Point Clubhouse and the first of four major Pete Dye-led renovations of The Ocean Course.

In 2000, Jack Nicklaus returned to Kiawah for a renovation of Turtle Point. The same year saw the construction of Turtle Point’s Federal-style clubhouse.

Aerial of Osprey Point No. 9 and No. 1
Aerial of Osprey Point No. 9 and No. 1

Oak Point received a new clubhouse in 2003. The following year, major changes were made to a number of holes on Oak Point, removing a quirky par-4 hole, adding a stunning par-3 hole hitting towards Haulover Creek and converting the first hole into a risk-reward par-5.

In 2014, Osprey Point was closed for the summer for a complete renovation approved by course architect Tom Fazio. It included regrassing tees, fairways and greens with Platinum Paspalum (the same grass used on The Ocean Course), shifting bunkers and renovating a number of fairways for improved drainage and playability.

Oak Point No. 18
Oak Point No. 18

In 2015, the work continued as Oak Point closed for a six-month renovation. This renovation included re-grassing the tees, fairways and greens with Platinum Paspalum, returning the greens and tees back to their original sizes, shaping and recontouring all of the bunkers and some of the fairways. Irrigation was also added to the roughs. The improvements to Oak Point, as well as the immaculate conditions maintained by its grounds crew, were acknowledged when the Charleston Area Golf Course Owners Association selected it as Course of the Year in 2019, which also marked the Clyde Johnston–designed course’s 30th anniversary.

2016 saw extensive work on Turtle Point under the watchful eye of course architect design team, Jack Nicklaus Design. Renovations included rebuilding green complexes, re-grassing the greens, tees and fairways with Platinum Paspalum, rebuilding all bunkers, laser leveling all tee boxes (including the range) and reestablishing irrigation throughout the course.

Turtle Point No. 15
Turtle Point No. 15

Cougar Point reopened in October of 2017 following a 10-month renovation under consultation with Gary Player and his design team. The renovation also included re-grassing all playing surfaces in Paspalum, making the playing surface consistent throughout all five Resort courses. Other elements included laser leveling all tee boxes (including the practice range), rebuilding all bunkers and updating the irrigation throughout the golf course.

The following May, visitors to Cougar Point were greeted by a stunning new clubhouse designed by the world-renowned architectural firm Robert A.M. Stern Architects. The full-service clubhouse, part of the Resort’s multi-year, island-wide expansion, features a large pro shop, elegantly comfortable lockers and Players’ Pub restaurant that features casual indoor dining as well as dining from an expansive porch offering an impressive view down the course’s finishing hole.

Cougar Point Clubhouse

For the past quarter century, Kiawah Island Golf Resort has committed to make significant golf course improvements, helping secure its status as the top golf destination in the nation.

Start planning your golf getaway now by calling 888.601.4904, or visit to explore options for one of our golf packages. Parties of twelve or larger interested in planning a once-in-a-lifetime group golf excursion, please call please contact John Haskins at 843.768.2796 or e-mail