By: Ricky Saucier
‘Old Man Winter’ we’re outta here! We’re packing our bags and we’re moving on down to tee it up in the heart of South Carolina. We have been to the “Olde” part on a number of occasions (Rock Hill area) and it never disappoints. Great golf, plenty to do after golf and dollar for dollar rates that can’t be beat!
Since it has been so mighty cold for so long up north, we are staying south a little longer this year and moving into some uncharted territory slightly south – Lake Murray Country.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Olde English District (OED), Rock Hill, which is just about 20 minutes south of Charlotte, is the focal point for golfers with a slew of golf courses dotting the I-77 corridor.
Consisting of seven counties, the district received its name because of the region’s early settlement by the English in the mid-1770s. There were a number of Revolutionary War battles fought in the area as well. Easily accessible by land or air, the area not only has great golf but added amenities such as NASCAR and pro sports. The OED is traversed by interstate I-77 and stretches from the state line south toward Columbia. Visit www.oldeenglishdistrict.com for more information about the region.
Neighboring OED to the south and west of the States capitol city of Columbia is where you will find the four county region that makes up Lake Murray Country. Discover historical southern homes, unique museums, challenging golf courses, and the nationally acclaimed Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia. The zoo is ranked among the top 5 zoos in the country. Outdoor recreation abounds – Lake Murray Country is a haven for all types of water-related fun. Canoe the three rivers, explore Congaree National Park, or sail at sunset on beautiful Lake Murray. Enjoy small town charm in Saluda and don’t miss the Newberry Opera House. Visit scjewel.com to explore the region in more detail. Lake Murray Country is easily accessed by major highways crisscrossing the state: I-77, I-20 and I-26. If you are flying, land in Columbia and you can stay there or drive to Charlotte which is just over an hour drive away.
Both the Rock Hill and the Columbia areas in the state are right for stay and play golf vacations! Golf Packages of South Carolina provides access to both semi-private and private courses in the area. Cobblestone Park and Columbia Country Club are both 27-hole facilities. They are similar in style with large undulating greens which make placement of approach shots a premium.
Tall pines line the fairways of the Windermere Club; this is one course I can never get enough of and Spring Valley Country Club has one of the greatest collections of par 3’s you will find in the state. The Country Club of Lexington and Woodlands Country Club round out the private clubs. The country club setting insures consistent greens year after year and a superb staff will make you want to return. Timberlake Country Club is the only course located on LakeMurray and you’ll find a couple of great finishing holes around the lake. You’ll also want to include Oak Hills Golf Club and Golden Hills Golf and Country Club.
Accommodations are plentiful and a downtown location will let you walk to plenty of restaurants and nightlife. The Vista area in downtown Columbia has it all. Restaurants, brew houses and sports bars. Choose accommodations closer to the courses and still find an abundance of eateries and watering holes. For your consideration are the Hyatt, Marriott, Wyndham and Choice properties.
Some of our “olde” favorite courses we revisited on this trip included the Edgewater Golf Club which is actually a community designed by Fuzzy Zoeller. Surprisingly though the golf course was designed by Bruce Brodsky, his first, and it is definitely a must play. I wonder if Fuzzy had any influence here?
Hole #6 is a favorite on the front side, double dog leg par 5, a couple of solid shots will leave most players with a short iron into the green. Although it is a community setting, when you are out on the golf course you would never know that people live minutes from where you are chasing the little white pill. So serene and plenty of wild life…so keep your eyes open.
Carolina Lakes might just have one of the most memorable par 3’s in the State. The 16th is an all carry slightly uphill par 3. Once you have carried the water you have a set of bunker teeth just waiting to swallow a shot that might be just a little shy on distance.
Timberlake Country Club was my most memorable in the Lake Murray area. This Willard C. Byrd designed golf course is a picturesque layout which trails along the shores of Lake Murray and through the Timberlake Plantation community. The course mixes right and left doglegs, flat and hilly, and puts water in play on seven of its 18 holes. From the tips the course measures 6,579 yards with a slope rating of 139. Only two holes, number 10 and 18 are parallel. The 4th is a favorite and picturesque par 3 overlooking Lake Murray. Tee shot must carry the pond fronting the entire green. Go left and you’re bunkered with the lake in your face – go right and you are wet!
Saving the best for last the 18th would be considered the signature hole. A beautiful par 5, only 483 yards from the back tees but requires a blind tee shot to those willing to go for it in two. But the second shot needs to be pure or you will be in the Lake. The green is cigar shaped and large, check the pin location, club selection is key.
You will not be disappointed with a visit to either the Olde English District or Lake Murray Country. Great tracks and many to choose from and dollar for dollar you won’t beat the Stay & Play options. Any other year we would be playing every day even in the winter but Old Man Winter has been a problem this year. A good kick in the butt and hopefully he will leave us alone until next winter.
Give us a try and you to will keep coming back!