Review for Secession

Reviewer Score:


Originally laid out by Pete Dye, there were disagreements, irascible Pete walked away or was fired, and Bruce Devlin finished off the course as it is today. It is an easy walk with a caddie, greens leading to tees in an economy of layout and scale. It is a Good Old Boy’s Club of the highest order – women do play here but it’s not common to see them.

The name honors the State of South Carolina’s decision to lead the break with the Union to start the Civil War of the 1860’s. Whatever you think of that lamentable period of US History, History is. A recent pressure to change the club’s logo created quite the uproar especially with the older, more Southern gentlemen of the membership. The two-flag logo removed the Confederate States flag and replaced it with a South Carolina State Flag. I think the old logo was for better or worse one that made more sense and I’ll leave it at that. History is evoked by the names of generals of both sides in the conflict in the tee naming. The holes bear battle names.

The memories of the course are more often sweeping vistas rather than specific holes – I remember 17 as a somewhat silly little add on (more of such a feeling than the 9th at Crystal Downs) and the diagonal drive on 18 in view of the clubhouse – often mistakenly called a “Cape” hole. It is the cape hole tee shot, yes (best known as the Macdonald designed hole at Mid-Ocean) but it is the green that makes a Cape hole and there is not one of those here on 18.

Most play occurs in the winter when the course is overseeded and screams green. Were it dormant Bermuda strains it would play more links-like than it does, the style evokes the ground game but it becomes attenuated with the limited roll. Caddies of great skill will lead you around the course if you are unfamiliar.

I find there are more memorable views than memorable holes and the course is not greater than the sum of its parts. I don’t know if it’s a unique place but it is very distinctively low country Southern and very hospitable. The members I now are all true gentlemen and I like how many out-of-town members are so-called “jocks”. Lots of friendly competition and conversation create the memories here. Overall it is a spectacular setting and experience with pretty bang average design even without the negative of overseeding.

If on Hilton Head for Holiday and playing here allow over an hour to go door-to-door and be very careful if leaving in the dark to go back, it is pitch black at the exit and you are likely to have toasted something or other.

Date: May 21, 2022

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