was a small group this year in South Carolina. In fact, it has been for
four years now. Brent Hutto, Terry Easton, and I played a lot of golf
and had a lot of fun -- but we missed the rest of you.
Here's Terry, Brent, and me (right to left) in front of the impressive clubhouse at Columbia Country Club, Brent's home course. We played there on Sunday. But that gets me a little ahead of myself -- I played 108 holes of walking golf between Thursday and Sunday.
Brent and Terry in the clubhouse. Isn't that a cool lamp behind them?
Terry being Terry. I don't know what story he's telling Brent, but I'm sure it's amusing if you can keep the characters straight.
The range is just a short chip from the clubhouse, and is a lot prettier and more comfortable than most
Ferry is a lovely course on the rolling banks of the Stono River
(actually more a tidal estuary than a river). It was chosen Charleston
area course of the year for 2003-2004. A few of the holes play
alongside the river, where the tee shot is over a cove of the river.
Here's a picture of Terry driving at one such hole, the thirteenth. It
requires at least 180 yards of carry from the white tees, and it was
into the wind all four rounds I've played there. Among us, we drowned
as many balls as we got across this inlet. |
I played well the front nine, lost it on the back nine, but found it again for the last couple of holes -- handily parring the difficult par-5 seventeenth.
We had lunch in the Stono Ferry clubhouse: soup and sandwich. For the "soup" Terry and I went for the chili. While their chili was mostly intended to turn a hot dog into a chili dog, it was among the best chili I've had; big chunks of tomato, and the beef was diced (not ground) and very tender. A real stick-to-the-ribs lunch that kept me going for the afternoon round.
The afternoon was just Terry and me; Brent had to go back to Columbia. Terry convinced me to play from the back tees. "See a different course." "More golf for your money." Both valid arguments. The course was a handful for me from the backs. OTOH, I must have been holding my game together better, because I was a couple of strokes lower in the afternoon.
We weren't sure we could finish 18, but we managed to. Just barely! We played the last hole in near-darkness. Good thing we remembered the pin was way front earlier in the day, or we would have had very long putts, because it was certainly too dark to see the flag from the fairway. That finishing hole at Stono is cool. It's a relatively short (322yd) par-4. If you can keep the ball straight and hit it 200 yards, you have a short iron to an island green. It's a pretty big green, but missed is drowned.
|Woke up, had
breakfast, and drove from Charleston to Blythewood north
of Columbia. By the time we got to the University Club at around 9am,
it was already a
beautiful day. We wore short sleeves, and Terry had shorts. Even so,
the course had a substantial frost delay. It had been a very clear,
still night, and some of the shaded greens would take a long time to
The view from the veranda of the clubhouse is magnificent. It gives the feeling of the size and power of the course: very hilly with huge, tall pines, which has made it one of my favorite courses. (There are more pictures of the course in the writeup of last year's South Carolina trip.) Unfortunately, this may be the last time I'll get to play it. The new owners are developing it as a residential course (ugh!), and setting membership policies and fees to turn it into a residents-only private club.
A little after 10am, we had all arrived. Brent was there, as was David Reiling, a member of the University Club who had introduced us to this wonderful course back in 1997 and has graciously hosted us there whenever we get to Columbia. David had several of his local friends there as well; all told there were seven of us. We warmed up at the range and practice green, and we were the first two groups off when the frost delay ended at 11:15.
again, my driver was working well, which contributed to my best day of
golf of the whole trip. Example: the third hole is a big dogleg. The
aiming point off the tee is a rock garden in the form of a gamecock's
claw and spur. (The Gamecock's are the teams from University of South
Carolina; this is their home course, hence the name of the club.) The
ideal drive is at the right side and just short of "the claw." As you
can see from the balls in the foreground of the photo, Terry and I both
had our drivers cooking on that hole. |
Apart from my overall score, my day was made by good performances on the three most memorable holes on the course:
fifth hole is a par-5 that is one of my favorites. (Coops has told me
it's his favorite, too.) Off the tee, there is a hill into the woods on
the left and a lake if you're long and right. The fairway continues
straight but, sooner or later, you'll have to turn right and hit across
the lake to the green. A really long drive in the right part of the
fairway can leave you just over 200 yards to the green -- all carry
across the lake. I can't hit either of those two shots any more (at age
64, I am definitely losing distance), so I played it more
conservatively. I put a good drive in the fairway, and a short-iron
layup to the very right-end of the fairway. That was a solid 9-iron to
the flagstick. My ball mark was about a foot from the hole, and my ball
about ten feet past it. Lipped out my birdie putt, and tapped in for
eleventh hole is a short (125-yard) par-3 with a peninsula green. Water
front, left, and rear. The pin was in the center of the green, which
precluded having to decide whether to go for it or play safe. (Yeah,
right! As if I were going to aim anywhere but the middle of the green.)
I hit my 9-iron within a dozen feet of the hole. The birdie putt was
dead center. |
finishing hole is a doozy of a par-5. The tees are low to the water at
the south end of the lake, the far end in the photo. It is a split
fairway; you can hit off the tee to the right, low fairway or keep it
left and high for the upper fairway. (I mean the golfer's "right" and
"left", the opposite of the photo, which was taken from behind the
green.) Between the two are bunkers and
(visible in the photo) rough. For a right-hander with a fade (like me)
it's hard to hit the upper fairway. But the lower fairway, while easier
to reach and the shorter overall length, has a killer third shot: over
water and straight through the tree at the end of the fairway. |
My driver was working, and I put my tee shot well into the upper fairway. My second shot was adequate, but left me 185 yards from the green. The third shot was just right, and skipped up to the back level where the hole was. But I was way on the left, and the flag was just as extreme to the right. I ran my lag eight feet by (didn't notice the drop-off just behind the hole), and wound up with a three-putt bogey. Still, not bad for that hole.