SC a top international golf destination, new ranking shows

A view of the golf course at Barefoot Resort and Golf in North Myrtle Beach.

A view of the golf course at Barefoot Resort and Golf in North Myrtle Beach.

Courtesy of Discover South Carolina

If you’re an avid golfer but don’t play much in South Carolina, then you’re really missing out, an international golf organization says.

South Carolina has been named one of the top five best golf destinations in the world for 2023 by the International Association of Golf Travel Operators. And it was the only U.S. state to make the global list, sharing the recognition with Cyprus, Dubai, Los Cabos and Thailand.

This is the 22nd year of the association’s awards, created to celebrate outstanding service, performance and quality in the international golf tourism industry. The winners were selected after more than 500 golf tour operators from around the world voted for the destinations that delivered the best golf experiences.

“South Carolina is known for our beaches and our golf,” Duane Parrish, South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism director, said in a press release. Drive through any golf course parking lot from Myrtle Beach to Hilton Head and you’ll spot license plates from states up and down the east coast. From the teams behind our iconic courses to the segments of the industry that make international golf travel to South Carolina so easy, like our tour operators and airports, so many people work together to make South Carolina a top destination for golf.”

South Carolina has a long and rich golf tradition.

The Palmetto State has more than 350 golf courses and the annual RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island and the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation in Greenville.

South Carolina has hosted a series of significant tournaments in recent years, including the 2021 PGA Championship at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, the 2021 Palmetto Championship at Congaree (which replaced the canceled RBC Canadian Open on the PGA TOUR), and THE CJ CUP in South Carolina in 2022.

And South Carolina’s focus on golf has paid off in helping the sport become a notable part of the state’s $29 billion tourism industry. Golf had an estimated $3.3 billion impact on the state’s economy in 2021, contributing to 38,000 jobs and $18.3 million in admissions tax collections that year, according to the department of parks, recreation and tourism.

Golf generates more income than any other single entertainment or recreation activity in South Carolina. Also, visitors who play golf during their trip to South Carolina spend an additional $1.1 billion off-course.

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Patrick McCreless is the service journalism editor for The State, where he and a team of reporters write about trending news of the day and topics that help readers in their daily lives and better informs them about their communities. He attended Jacksonville State University in Alabama and grew up in Tuscaloosa, AL.

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