The signature hole at Pine Forest. They carry the nickname "Little Augusta".
The opening hole at The Harbor Course is a 535 yard par five with water all the way on the left and O.B on the right.
Three Rounds and Dinner
The wife took me on a little working vacation down to Charleston, South Carolina. She misses me so much when she is gone for work that she has devised a scheme to entice me along for some of her work travel. She offers fabulous golf courses in beautiful cities throughout the south east as bait...my god, I have married a golf siren. Call me a sucker, but I went for it.
First up on the agenda was the Arthur Hills designed Coosaw Creek Country Club. (843-767-9000) www.coosawcreeek.com The course is semi-private with an open guest policy. I paid $48 for round with cart on a Saturday in July.
Coosaw Creek has slightly rolling, bermuda grass fairways that are lined by woods, wetlands or both. That is pretty much the norm for what is called a "Lowcountry course" Lots of wetlands. The greens are bermuda as well. I learned that greens in the Charleston area are aerified three and sometimes four times per year. I can't figure out when these poor golfers get to putt on a smooth surface. The greens at Coosaw were on the mend, but still quite slow and bumpy compared to what I am used to. From the three courses I experienced on this trip, I have determined that I am spoiled by bent grass greens. Bermuda just doesn't match up. But hey, if it is all you can grow, that is what you have to use.
Coosaw wanders through a housing development, but as Moe has mentioned numerous times, Art has a knack for designing development courses where the houses don't impede the golf. I think he pulled it off here as well. We actually enjoyed looking at the Southern home architecture. I found the course design itself to be pretty good, but not great. The back side was more open and easier, however the greens seemed to be smaller. It was enjoyable and reasonably priced for the area. I would suggest giving it a try if you are around Charleston.
Pine Forest Country Club was the following day's destination. I wanted to check out Pine Forest because I have never heard of the architect, Bob Spence. I noticed while researching golf in the Charleston area that his name was on a few of the courses, so I thought I would see what Bob is all about. Bob has something going on at Pine Forest. He has my full attention immediately. He has built a beautiful, pine covered lowcountry course. Most fairways are framed by large pines. Water or wetland in play on every hole. Bermuda tees and fairways in good shape. Very nice to look at until you get to the greens. Ouch! Granted the greens were in poor condition (bare spots) which you might think is beyond Bob's control, but it is my observation that Bob is tier happy and has created a very difficult surface to maintain. Not to mention, he has drastically limited the pin positions with severe slopes running through the middle of almost every green. Too bad. I found the layout of Pine Forest to be my favorite of the trip, but I think they need a big redesign on those greens. All other aspects of the course were great. Southern hospitality was abundant around the clubhouse. Nice people, nice layout...weird greens. I would still suggest a visit. The green conditions are bound to improve since my visit.
Pine Forest is semi-private with an open guest policy. 843-851-1193 www.pineforestcountry club.com We gave $30 each on a after 11:00 weekend special. They run a lot of mid day specials in this part of the country to entice out of town suckers like us out into the incredible heat. The locals know better.
My last out was The Harbor Course at Wild Dunes designed by Tom Fazio. 800-845-8880 They are open to the public, but it is less expensive if you stay at the resort. Less expensive to play golf that is. We paid $84 a piece. The Ocean Course is also on the property and I am told is even more expensive.
The Harbor Course is a links style course. All bermuda of course. There is water in play on most of the front nine. In fact, water seemed to be in play on almost every shot on the front nine as I fought a nasty hook and went out in 46. Ouch! Coming in went much smoother. The backside has some water also as 9-12 run along the harbor giving you that true ocean, links style feeling. Numerous forced carries and waste areas also lend to difficulty on the return back to the clubhouse. I shook off the hook and limped home in 35. I played poorly on the front, but I also believe it is a lot tougher.
Course conditions were very nice at The Harbor course. They had the best greens of the three courses I played. The front side has numerous houses and we noticed a lot of non golf activities as we played. The back was very peaceful and scenic. I would love another shot at that front nine. By the way, if you play The Harbor Course, choose an appropriate tee position. I played from the back and I could see that it made a huge difference in difficulty. It's a different course from the back compared to the white tees.
Dining Suggestions: For fine dining we enjoyed Carolina's and Garibaldi's. Just about everything in Charleston is casual dress. It's too hot to fool around with long pants and coats. For BBQ, Sticky Fingers had great ribs. We got the sampler platter and it was excellent. If you want more of a party atmosphere while still enjoying seafood, try A.W. Shucks. I had good oysters and they have lots of different beers to choose from.
There are numerous good restaurants in Charleston. The downtown atmosphere is great. Except for a few ghost stories, Charleston is a very safe feeling city. I guess I can handle a few ghost if I'm gong to live with a golf siren...