One Pete Dye gem has replaced another as the best golf course in South Carolina in balloting by the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel.
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, which will play host to the PGA Championship this summer, moved to No. 1, swapping spots with the Sea Pines Resort's Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island.
Despite the fact Harbour Town had been the panel's No. 1 course since the rankings began in 2005, the change at the top didn't concern PGA Director of Golf at Sea Pines John Farrell.
"We're flattered," Ferrell said. "We're in great company. I love the Ocean Course, too, but I guess I'm biased. This is a great place to be. I really believe there's a lot of great golf courses in the state, and we're in great company."
Farrell offered no opinion on whether the PGA Championship's visit to Kiawah this summer played a part in the ratings.
"A long time ago I decided not to get too to wrapped up in rankings," Farrell said. "I guess these are high-class problems to have."
Palmetto Bluff's May River Golf Club is the No. 4 course on the list. Hilton Head Island's Long Cove Club checked in at No. 8, while Beaufort's Secession Golf Club is No. 9. Overall, 13 of the state's top 50 courses, according to the ratings, are in Beaufort County.
The ratings are compiled in even-numbered years and include both public and private courses. Panelists consider the following criteria: routing, variety, strategy, equity, memorability, aesthetics and experience.
The panel consists of 125 members, with 25 percent coming from each of the four regions -- Upstate, Midlands, Lowcountry and Grand Strand. Twenty percent of the panelists are women. The panel members fall into four categories: golf industry, players and coaches, media, and business and industry.
RICKMAN AND VARN WIN SENIOR FOUR BALL
North Augusta's Bob Rickman and Orangeburg's Bob Varn combined to shoot a two-day total of 65-70--135 to win the 2012 S.C. Golf Association's Senior Four Ball Championship held March 20-21 at Callawassie Island. The Senior Four Ball is one of 19 major championships put on by the SCGA.
Rickman and Varn won by a stroke over Blythewood's Gene Spence and Kiawah Island's Mike Weiner and the Columbia duo of Walter Odione and Bernie Shealy. The Bluffton duo of David Crocker andd William Fuller tied for fourth, three shots back.
Greeleyville's Mike Mahoney and Greer's Joel Stoudenmire won the first flight, and Cheraw's Robby Bennett and St. Matthews' Joe Fairey won the second flight.
HURRICANE TOUR EVENT ENDS IN PLAYOFF
The Boys 15-18 Division came down to a four-way playoff at the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour's Hilton Head Junior Shootout this past Saturday and Sunday at Wexford Plantation.
Four golfers turned in two-round scores of 155, but Scotland's Ewen Ferguson took the victory when he birdied the second playoff hole. Matthew Smith, Jordan Batchelor and Gonzalo Martinez finshed in a tie for second.
Summerville's Reona Hiral shot a two-day score of 162 to win the Girls 15-18 Division. Bluffton's Kasid Beckel was third at 171.
Summerville's Zak Butt shot 157 to win the Boys 11-14 Division, edging Hilton Head Island's Will Miles by a stroke. Italy's Emillie Paltrinieri shot 169 to win the Girls 11-14 Division.
BEAR CREEK WINS INTERCLUB TITLE
The 11-match 2012 Hilton Head Men's Interclub Golf Association season wrapped up Monday, March 19 with Bear Creek taking first place. The rest of the top 5: Moss Creek, Country Club of Hilton Head, Port Royal and Long Cove.
The rest of the participants included Arthr Hills, Sea Pines, Hampton Hall, Dolphin Head, Hampton Pointe and Palmetto Dunes.
HANK HANEY STUDENTS SWEEP IJGT EVENT
Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy students swept all three divisions in this past weekend's International Junior Golf Tour event at Parris Island.
Japan's Shosei Inokawa, a full-time IJGA student, won his fourth IJGTevent in five starts this spring. Inokawa fired rounds of 68 and 74 to win the Boys 15-19 Division by four strokes over classmate Chris Magi of Montreal.
In the Boys Under 14 Division, IJGA student Daulet Tuleubayev of Kazakhstan shot back-to-back rounds of 79 to win by two strokes. This was his third IJGT win of the 2011-2012 season.
IJGA student Laura Restrepo of Panama won the Girls Under 19 Division with rounds of 78 and 73 to win by six strokes.
The International Junior Golf Tour announced Monday that AB Golf Designs has been named its official head cover sponsor.
Nancy Connell had a hole-in-one on No. 2 at Fripp Island's Ocean Point on March 9 with a 7-iron. Witnesses were Becky Crowley, Mary Lou Clauss and Jacquie Burkhardt. This was Connell's second hole-in-one in the past 12 months at Fripp Island.
Frank Zeleznik had a hole-in-one on the 154-yard 16th hole on Friday at Bluffton's Crescent Pointe Golf Club with an 8-iron.
Send local golf news to sports editor Mike McCombs at email@example.com.