I played the Country Club of Charleston on 11/6/2019 for the first time following a round the previous day at Yeamans Hall Club. Both golf courses were designed by Seth Raynor. I played the back tees at 6790 where there are also a combined tee of 6546 and member tees at 6367.
The conditioning was very good.
As I played the front nine, I regretted playing these two courses back-to-back and not having a different course or a day off in between them. There is a lot of similarity in the golf courses in terms of straight holes and the green complexes. To a certain degree it felt as if I were playing the same hole over and over once I arrived at my approach shot as well as on the green. Greens are raised, they have false fronts, they are squared off, they have mounds and slopes, they have bunkers left and right. From the fairway, they look essentially the same.
In reality, the two golf courses are very different. The Country Club of Charleston is on flat land whereas Yeamans Hall has some variation in terrain. The only “hill” at CC of Charleston is manufactured on the dramatically raised green on the eleventh. Perhaps Yeaman Hall’s greens, particularly the false fronts are more dramatic, whereas CC of Charleston’s greens have many more slopes and mounds. At Yeamans Hall there are many more trees whereas at CC of Charleston there are fewer trees, particularly on the front nine. CC of Charleston has a few holes involving water while Yeamans Hall does not. CC of Charleston has Bermuda grass and much more difficult rough to hit from as the ball settles down more than at Yeamans Hall.
I did not think any of the front nine was particularly special. The fairways are wide and once one is on the green the putts seem the same with the exception of one hole. The first hole has no greenside bunkers while two through five have a lot of sand surrounding the raised and tilted green with mounds and tiers to navigate. This is not to suggest that the front nine’s holes are not good; there were simply none that stood out. Others would disagree given the very difficult 225/200 par 3 sixth which is the 17 index hole.
The seventh hole surprised me because it was a dogleg and since I had hit down the right side with trees on my right, I did not realize my wonderful recovery shot was actually aimed at the fourth green instead of the green well off to my right.
A point about the seventh green; it has a huge mound/knob on the left center of the green that is nearly impossible to remain close to the hole from a putt from the back of the green without the ball going down the steep slope in front or off to the left. Many players would praise the green whereas I found it unfair.
The tenth hole is very different from the front nine as another dogleg, this one to the left. The green complex is well bunkered in front with a swale behind it to a false front and then another large swale in the front center of the green running horizontal. The green is the star of the hole but it was nice to see another dogleg.
Eleven is probably the most famous hole on the golf course, a par 3 of 177/165 as the land falls down from the elevated tee to a very raised green. Is it 8 feet high? 10 feet high? It is the most amazing false front I have ever seen. There is a ridge running down the left side of this long and narrow green with that huge fall off to the left to a long bunker below. The back of the green slopes away so many balls hit slightly long can run through the green. It appears the bail out area is to be short of the green, but it is no guarantee to make four. I am sure most people love this sort of “redan” hole but I thought it to be too quirky. It is unique but overly done for me.
From 13 on through the finish is the highlight of the golf course. I liked every hole as they were different than anything that had come before. There is a very good mix of short and long holes. The final three in particular are a lot of fun, beginning with a par 4 of 464/436 with the best green on the golf course. The sixteenth’s green is raised with a backstop in the back right and a bunker cutting into the middle front of the green. There are huge false fronts on both sides. While I was pretty tired of false fronts by this point, they work beautifully on this hole. A green at CC of Charleston would not be complete without a swale somewhere on it and there is one here as well.
The seventeenth is a par 3 of 164/154 and is surrounded by sand on all sides. It is the “island green.”
The eighteenth is a very long par 4 of 482/462 playing into the wind for us so it felt as if it were 520 yards to another false front but perhaps the largest and longest green on the golf course. The false front is steep but does not make up as much of this green as it appears from the fairway.
I am glad I got to experience CC of Charleston, particularly the back nine which has wonderful variety with fairway bunkering and green complexes.
As I finished and drove away thinking about Yeamans Hall and Country Club of Charleston, I wondered about architects such as Seth Raynor. People rave about the “template” holes that they admired in Scotland and brought to the USA – cape, redan, biarittz, eden, island, etc. If given a compliment, one could say they were inspired. On the other hand, were the architects of this time prone to copy rather than do something original on their own. It is a good question.
Date: November 07, 2019