The course at Ohoopee Match Club in rural Tattnall County occupies just a small portion of a 3,500-acre estate that was once used for onion production. Now owned by entrepreneur and "angel" investor Michael Walrath, this low-key property is where the proprietor and his friends enjoy playing golf far from the madding crowd.
Gil Hanse has set out twenty-two holes across a rolling, forested, lakeside landscape, with wide, sandy soiled fairways routed around stands of mature oak trees. The design of the clubhouse, lodge, and cabins was inspired by agricultural buildings in the local area, enabling the entire project to tie in effortlessly with its surroundings.
Four extra holes – A, B, C and D – can be used with 14 modified holes on the main course to form an alternative “Whiskey Route” layout. Holes 2 to 5 are eliminated, replaced by the four additional holes, and par fives at holes 6 and 11 become par fours. The long par three 13th and short par four 14th reverse pars and the remaining ten holes are played from forward tees, resulting in a 5,610- yard par 69 course compared to the 7,319-yard par 72 Championship track.
Half-par holes provide the course with numerous risk/reward opportunities, making it ideal for match play, as intended. The Ohoopee Match Club is a winter season course which opens from autumn through to spring and is closed during the hot summer months. No golf carts are allowed and walking caddies are a mandatory requirement when playing here.
Our regular contributor Paul Rudovsky visited in November 2018:
“It is brilliantly strategic in design and reminded me of The Old Course at St. Andrews and Kingston Heath in the Melbourne Sandbelt in this way. The fairways (with one exception) are overly wide and extremely generous. But, almost without fail, if you want a playable safe approach shot, you had to flirt with real trouble (generally difficult bunkers or scrub bushes and random high grass…there is no “manicured rough) off the tee.
Trade-offs abound at Ohoopee, and the golfer is left to make the decisions. And that is (1) exactly as it should be, and (2) superb architectural design. The greens are large and resemble “mergers” of several bowls… with the bowls separated by reasonably high ridges within the green. In many ways the greens reminded me of Hanse’s work at Streamsong Black.
One of the great things about this course is it has 18 superb holes… and they “weave” together into an outstanding routing. The “ebb and flow” of the course is brilliant and, with the exception of from #1 green to #2 tee, the walks from green to tee are short. The property has about five different “looks/feels” and the transition from one to another is seamless.
The conditioning is excellent. I do not know how deep the sand goes here before one hits clay or rock, but this place had been inundated with rain before our arrival…and when I teed off on #1, I literally had to press hard to get the tee in the ground. I was pleasantly shocked.
The clubhouse was designed by the same architectural firm that designed the clubhouse at Chechessee Creek… and it shows. Comfortable, functional, simple, and inviting are words that immediately come to mind.”