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Kiawah Island: Lowcountry high life

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The fourth hole at Kiawah Island's Cassique, which was designed by Tom Watson and is one of two courses reserved for member play. (Photo: Kiawah Island)

A second home is not only a getaway, but a luxury.

The second home is where families go to escape the day-to-day grind and get back in touch with one another. Over years, these homes become gathering places as families grow. They are where books are read, games are played, jigsaw puzzles are completed and life is celebrated. They are where subtleties of grilling are revealed over a July 4th cookout and new traditions are set in motion for a Thanksgiving feast.

For more than 60 years, Kiawah Island has been that place for an increasing number of families.

Located less than an hour south of Charleston, S.C., this sea island is legendary for its flora and fauna, as well as its residences, spas and golf courses. It’s home to 10,000 acres and 10 miles of beach. Spits and marshes create Kiawah’s unique contours, while the enigmatic landscape captures young and old alike.

Ask around the island, and a strong sense of community rears its head.

“I’ve been going down to Kiawah since I was nine, so back in 1980 or ’81,” homeowner Chris Barnett told Kiawah Legends magazine. “As a kid, there was just a ton to do. It was very untouched — you could drive jeeps on the beach. They’ve done a good job at preserving it over the years. We wanted a place where our kids would come every summer and that we would keep in the family.”

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On Kiawah Island, family resonates, just as it does in other private communities. However, at Kiawah, the notion just seems to mean more.

Kiawah and the people here don’t think in terms of years, but generations.

“I’ve realized that Kiawah comes to represent a family meeting place for a lot of its property owners. It still gets better and better for us—every year we discover something new, another dimension,” homeowner Frank Marzano told Kiawah Legends magazine.

Marzano saw the value.

“That’s what’s so great about it," he said. "We have seven people in our family and everybody is different, but Kiawah has a way of satisfying each person’s interests, and at the same time the interests of the family as a whole.”

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The Cassique clubhouse at sunset. (Photo: Kiawah Island)

The Cassique clubhouse at sunset. (Photo: Kiawah Island)

With a history dating to 1670, Kiawah has belonged to the Kiawah Indians, an English Lord, a South Carolina Governor and the Vanderhorst family. In 1974, Kuwait Investment Corporation bought the island and envisioned a master planned development. Along the way, the Kiawah Island Inn was opened, Kiawah Island Club was founded, homes were built and golf courses were added.

Today, Kiawah is a world-class golf and beach destination.

In the golfing world, the island is synonymous with the game. Kiawah’s Ocean Course has been the site of some memorable moments, including the 1991 Ryder Cup, 2007 Senior PGA and the 2012 PGA Championship. The PGA Championship will return in 2021.

Kiawah is home to two member courses and five public courses.

Two courses — Cassique and River Course — are reserved only for members and their guests. Cassique traces the Kiawah River, offering an Irish- and Scottish-inspired links-style course. The 6,960-yard, Tom Watson-designed course can be played several different ways depending on the conditions. Originally opened in 1995, the Tom Fazio-designed River Course has been described as a 7,039-yard test. The course brings the Kiawah River and Bass Pond in to play, as well as marsh savannas and oak-filled maritime forests.

Of the five public courses, the Ocean Course stands above. The 7,296-yard, Pete Dye design was named by Golf Digest as “America’s Toughest Course” in 2011.

Coupled with a host of events and programs wrapped around family, it’s easy to see why generations keep coming back to Kiawah.


THE ESSENTIALS
KIAWAH ISLAND
Location: Kiawah Island, S.C.
Phone: 843.768.3400
Website: kiawahisland.com
Facebook: @kiawahislandrealestate
Instagram: @kiawahislandrealestate
Twitter: @kiawahre


Patrick Rhyne has spent the last 20 years building luxury and private community brands across the United States, Mexico and Caribbean. He lives in Asheville, N.C.

Email: patrickrhyne74@gmail.com
Instagram: @pmrhyne