This March, the editors of Barron’s PENTA magazine ranked Kiawah Island #5 on their annual list of “Top Resort Communities” – a list that Kiawah has been on since the magazine first began such a ranking. Kiawah Island is no stranger to “Best” lists, and with 2016 marking the 40th anniversary of the first real estate sales in the Kiawah Island community (Sparrow Pond debuted in the spring of 1976) – we wanted to look back at two key Kiawah Island honors that are also “celebrating” anniversaries.
With golf’s first major in the record books, the 2016 golf season is upon us, and will culminate in September’s Ryder Cup matches. 2016 is the 25th anniversary of the event that brought Kiawah Island to the international stage, and brought the Ryder Cup back to prominence in the golf world.
While the Ryder Cup has been a highly anticipated event every other year for the past two decades, it was neither highly anticipated nor highly viewed before the 1991 event at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s Ocean Course. “The Ryder Cup had been on USA Cable with a taped version on ABC – it never was a big event,” stated Jon Miller, who in 1991 was president of sports programming for NBC. “We made a deal with the PGA of America for the Ryder Cup. We wanted to create a Masters feel. The plan was to show three hours a day on Saturday and Sunday.”
Miller continued, “We get to Kiawah.The first day’s matches were exciting. Seve and Azinger get into it. Then there was fog on Saturday morning. When we come on the air at 3, the afternoon matches just started. By the time we got to 6 (when the broadcast was scheduled to end), we knew we had an hour to 90 minutes left, and we decided we’d stay on the air. Since we ran all of our commercials, we ran last 90 minutes commercial-free. It was amazing television. On Sunday, it came down to the last putt (Bernhard Langer missed to give the U.S. the victory). The next thing you know, Kiawah became ‘The War by the Shore.’ The Ryder Cup went to another level.” The event – and the Island – would never be the same.
Five years later in 1996, Kiawah Island was one of the first destination communities to win the Award for Excellence from the Urban Land Institute (ULI), the development industry’s leading organization. From their website, ULI.org:
ULI began the Awards for Excellence program in 1979 with the objective of recognizing truly superior development efforts. The criteria for the awards include factors that go beyond good design, including leadership, contribution to the community, innovations, public/private partnership, environmental protection and enhancement, response to societal needs, and financial success. Winning projects represent the highest standards of achievement in the development industry.