Designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the golf course at Chechessee Creek Club sits amidst towering oaks and pines to the north of Callawassie Island. The raised green complexes, with imaginative putting surface contours and jagged-edged bunkering, are the layout’s defining design feature.
Opened in 2000, the course was constructed with sand-capped fairways for improved drainage and the promotion of firm and fast playing conditions. Apart from elevating greensites a couple of feet higher than their surroundings, there was little earth moving of any consequence undertaken when the fairways were fashioned here.
The original plan for the property was to accommodate over a hundred home sites around the 300-acre site but this was revised down to less than fifty by owner Jim Chaffin once the course routing had been finalised, ensuring that golfers would be able to savour a more secluded experience without the intrusion of real estate elements.
Feature holes include the 440-yard 8th, which is the most heavily bunkered hole on the card, and – on a particularly strong back nine – the 340-yard 12th (where the drive over wetlands is followed by an approach to a green fronted by a lone bunker) and the 602-yard 15th, where a couple of prominent oak trees have to be negotiated between tee and green.A renovation was carried out in 2015, when the entire course was re-grassed, using Tifeagle on the greens, TifGrand sod on the putting surface surrounds and Celebration everywhere else. Drainage issues were also addressed, in particular at the 5th hole, where a new drain line was installed along the left side of the fairway and the former sandy waste area replaced by several bunkers.
Chechessee Creek is a fine golf course on flat and small piece of land. Bill Coore did a really nice job with the routing to fit eighteen very playable golf holes into such a tight area. I would say that Coore got as much as he could out of the available land. In reading the other reviews, I agree with them. If this golf course did not have the Coore and Crenshaw name attached to it, people would not travel to try to play it. However, for the members and visitors they will find an enjoyable golf course with some challenging golf holes.
The previous reviews note the most likely criticism of the golf course in that many of the greens are raised, sloped back to front with bunkers right and left and a false front. The course can get a bit repetitive in that regard. The course yardage is a little misleading as there are five par 3’s which was necessary given the lack of land.
There are some very nice holes amongst all of the oak and pine trees. I thought the best holes to be 7, 8, 9, 11, 13 and 18. The first is a nice starting hole requiring a drive to avoid the trees on the left but comes with a green typical of the rest of the golf course. The second is a long par 3 with a right to left tilt in the green. Following that are a short par 4 and a slightly longer par 4. The fifth is a straight forward par 5 as long as one avoids the long bunker on the left side. The sixth hole requires another well placed drive as a par 4. On the seventh you can see the marsh and bay to the left. It’s a nice, lovely mid-length par 3 that is well bunkered. The eighth hole has more bunkering and is perhaps the second most difficult drive on the front nine. The ninth is a dogleg left that is well bunkered and completes a trio of good holes.
The back nine begins with a reachable dogleg right par 5 followed by a difficult par 3 requiring a carry over wetlands. I note others called out the twelfth for its carry over wetlands but I felt the hole to be too short and the green complex less interesting than it should have been given the length. There is undulation on this green, I simply expected more. The thirteenth is a lovely short par 3. From holes 14-17 the course became a bit less interesting to me. The fourteenth has an elevated green with a severe false front which are both overly done. There are a long par 5 and a long par 3. Some in my group loved the short, fish hook par 4 but I thought it felt a bit cramped and was too punitive at the green. The eighteenth is a very good finish as a longer dogleg left par 4 even if the green is much like many of the rest.
One has a real sense of calmness playing Chechessee Creek and there are adequate challenges on the golf course. Get offline and you face trees and sand as your obstacles. There is plenty of bunkers and they are well placed; but for me the approach shots into the green felt like they were often the same length and had the same obstacles to consider. It is a good course for members as they will enjoy the beauty of it.
For those who are Ben Crenshaw / Bill Coore devotees an opportunity to play Chechessee will be a rewarding one. But, frankly, the architecture is not as compelling as a number of the more noted courses the highly talented duo have created in earlier efforts.
By no means does that mean the totality of the 18 holes is deficient. C&C did a first rate effort in using the available land and not doctoring it to the point of absurdity -- something other architects would have done in order to create "definition." But low county golf is exactly that -- low country and flat to a fault.
The entire facility includes a range of amenities that make the visit so enjoyable. For those fortunate to stay in property the atmosphere is top shelf. It's a great location to get away and enjoy the fun qualities the course possesses.
But, as an earlier reviewer mentioned, if the names of the architects were someone other than C&C it's likely the fanfare for the course would have been a bit lower.
There's plenty of subtle details throughout the round. As befitting a C&C layout the course blends into the existing landscape making it appear as if it's always been there. The green contours are also quite varied and can be a real riddle to decipher.
My personal favorite hole is the 18th - a quality dog-leg left long par-4 hole that will only yield to two finely played shot to get to the fine green complex. Even after getting to the green you still must focus on the task at-hand.
Is Chechessee a top ten course in the Palmetto State? In my mind - it's a borderline call and if pressed I'd say no. C&C created a fine member's course that isn't about punishment but about providing a fine brew of differentiating holes. But, the ultimate barometer in measuring the talents of architects is how they evolve in their designs. Often times, architects will hit the "wall" in terms of cutting edge designs. They will simply repackage earlier ideas and keep recycling them. Nothing wrong with that. Seth Raynor made a career in doing so.
Chechessee works in many ways. For me -- it was like seeing a similar movie that C&C have done a number of times prior. It's just that those efforts yielded a result that really pushed boundaries instead of simply replicating them.
by M. James Ward
A good Coore and Crenshaw course that gets rated a little higher than it should. It is a very good course, but slap a different name on it as the architects, and it won't get nearly as much attention from out-of-state golfers.
Golfers into golf architecture will appreciate the subtleties of the course and design that resulted from flat land.
The genius of Coore/Crenshaw flourishes at Chechessee Creek Club. Having played most of the courses in the C&C portfolio, you develop a keen eye for how they shape the land and route a course. The shaping team embarked on the challenge of creating a golf course on a flat piece of land that stimulates golfers to use their imagination and exercise their shot-making ability into menacing perched putting surfaces. As is typical with C&C layouts, there’s plenty of width off the tee – but there’s also no shortage of punishment for missing their ominous greens. A symptom of raised greens on a flat piece of land is the frequent need to hit delicate flop-shots or use your judgement to bump the ball along the ground. Checheessee Creek is outstanding in this regard. Fortunately the Tifeagle grass-seed allows for a lot of creativity with the short-game shots into the greens.
The routing effortlessly brings the creek and surrounding marsh into sight further connecting the golfer with nature. The peaceful ambiance is as serene as the secluded tranquil experience that the club provides each day. The putting surfaces are very thoughtfully created, and notably small in size. The greens are consistently sized proportionally to the length of each hole. There are gradual slopes, intelligent collection areas and accessible portions which marry seamlessly with fabulously maintained aprons. They visually emphasize the ‘ground-game’ and how enjoyable a flat course can be with the right amount of shaping.
Coore/Crenshaw highlight the importance of ‘flow’ as it relates to the course routing and Chechessee Creek is on the shortlist of the most enjoyable walks in golf. There is an inherent sense of orientation for each golfer walking the property as the next hole is always intuitively located and you feel most satisfied once you reach the final green. The course takes you on a tour through nature, and allows you to experience truly memorable holes along the way. Golfers will enjoy superior par 3s, challenging par 4s and par 5s that give the opportunity to make birdies. Amazingly, this course hasn’t appeared much on ranking lists, but it’s only a matter of time.