Ocean Ridge Plantation, home of Lion’s Paw, Panther’s Run, Tiger’s Eye and Leopard’s Chase, has long been one of the Brunswick Islands' most popular golf properties.
The Big Cats, as the courses are affectionately known, are renowned for the quality of their design, highlighted by architect Tim Cate’s creative use of locally harvested coquina boulders and waste bunkers. The first cat in Ocean Ridge’s pride was Lion’s Paw, which opened in 1991, followed by Panther’s Run, Tiger’s Eye and Leopard’s Chase, with each successive course enjoying more acclaim than its predecessor.
By the time Tiger’s Eye, which was ranked among “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses,” and Leopard’s Chase, which was honored among the best new layouts in America in 2008, opened, Ocean Ridge was shining a national spotlight on the Brunswick Islands.
As group leaders organize their next trip, trying to figure out which of the area’s 30 plus courses they want to play, here is a closer look at the most unforgettable hole on each Ocean Ridge course.
Lion’s Paw announced the arrival of Ocean Ridge, immediately taking its place among the most popular courses along the Brunswick Islands, due in no small part to the beauty and challenge of the par 3 third hole.
Playing a meaty 178 yards (all distances from the white or most commonly played tees), golfers must carry water to a green flanked by three bunkers that when viewed from above create the appearance of (you guessed it) a lion’s paw. It’s a nervy shot and a picturesque challenge.
Cate’s first solo design, Panther’s Run, closes with an unforgettable par 4. The 380-yard 18th demands a carry over water on the approach. A straightaway hole, No. 18 doesn’t overwhelm players with length, but water interrupts the fairway and long hitters will need to be careful not to drive the ball into the drink. This is the hardest hole on the back nine and a dramatic conclusion to your round.
When Tiger’s Eye opened in 2000, it attracted the attention of the game’s biggest media outlets and the par 3 11th hole was one of the primary reasons why. Playing just 128 yards to a peninsula green, it’s not the course’s most difficult hole but it might be its prettiest. The large, undulating putting surface is ringed by the coquina boulders that are one of Cate’s calling cards. The 11th at Tiger’s Eye is one of the most photographed along the Brunswick Islands.
The par 4 18th at Leopard’s Chase has a little bit of everything. The dogleg left is relatively short at 360 yards but water lurks off the tee, as does a sprawling waste bunker on the right. The approach to a green that features those signature coquina boulders and a waterfall is one of the area’s most memorable visuals. It’s a nerve-jangling shot players love to recount after their round.
As you look forward to your next Brunswick Islands golf trip, it won’t take long to see why the Big Cats at Ocean Ridge leave golfers purring with delight.