Wade Hampton - North Carolina - USA

Wade Hampton Golf Club,
Hwy 107 South,
Cashiers,
North Carolina (NC) 28717,
USA


  • +1 828 743 5950


Wade Hampton Golf Club was named after the Confederate cavalry leader, General Wade Hampton III, who was also Governor of South Carolina and later US Senator during the 19th century. Surprisingly, the Wade Hampton Golf Club is a totally modern and thoroughly exciting affair. However, you’ll need an invite from one of the members to play this “Tom Fazio Masterpiece” as it is lovingly referred.

Opened for play in 1987, the course caters for golfers of all levels, measuring a manageable 5,120 yards from the forward “Chimney Top” tees, named after the Blue Ridge Mountain peak which provides a dramatic backdrop, exemplified on the short par four 12th. Gigantic pine trees that are simply dwarfed by the sheer white rock face of Chimney Top Rock surround the green and the approach on 12. However, going back to tees, you’ll need your game intact to tackle the tips, better known as the “Fazio” tees, Wade Hampton stretches out to a whopping 7,109 yards from here.

Categorized as a mountain course, Wade Hampton has slick, undulating greens and tight fairways. Despite its mountain setting, the elevation changes are relatively modest but be prepared tackle plenty of water hazards. Wade Hampton is probably Tom Fazio’s greatest design achievement; it’s certainly the best mountain course in the USA.

In his book, Golf Course Designs, Fazio (one of the Wade Hampton's founding members) mentions Wade Hampton more than any of his other designs, including Shadow Creek, Butler National, Galloway National and the Quarry at La Quinta. In the section about green settings Fazio commented, “the third green at Wade Hampton in Cashiers, North Carolina, is set into the base of a tall hill, and behind it is a waterfall that has been there for centuries. In this mountain setting, the green rests near the valley floor surrounded by steep elevations with mature evergreens and oaks marching up the slopes whose scale is brought into sharp focus by the cascading water. This is as good an example of a natural green setting as any.”

The course reopened in the summer of 2018 after a year-long renovation by Fazio Design. All of the putting surfaces were reconstructed to USGA specification, with underground drainage replaced and re-connected to the existing SubAir infrastructure. Putting surfaces were reseeded with Pure Distinction bentgrass, green surrounds replaced with Crystal BlueLinks bentgrass, and greenside bunkers rebuilt with a Capillary Concrete bunker lining.

Links Magazine drew the following analogy: “If Wade Hampton Golf Club were a painting, it would either be on display somewhere or locked away as a part of some collector’s private gallery.” Its exclusivity might suggest the latter.

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Description: Wade Hampton Golf Club was named after the Confederate cavalry leader, General Wade Hampton III, who was also Governor of South Carolina and later US Senator during the 19th century. Rating: 8.4 out of 10 Reviews: 8
TaylorMade
Marc Bender

Wade Hampton Golf Club – A Fazio Design Like No Other

Wade Hampton is one of those courses that has been on my “must play” list for quite a while for several reasons: First, I have played a plethora of Tom Fazio courses all over the country that were designed at different phases of his career, and I definitely felt I was missing out having not seen what many have touted as Mr. Fazio’s best work. Second, of all the Top 100 ranked courses in the USA, Wade Hampton is one that flies under the radar, creating intrigue, and I love to see great golf courses that aren’t talked about ad nauseam. Similar to other highly ranked courses, such as Yeamans Hall, Crystal Downs, Old Town Club and Gozzer Ranch, you just don’t hear too many people talking about Wade Hampton.

My trip to Wade Hampton took place right in the middle of the Covid-19 virus pandemic. The relevance of mentioning this is that I live in South Florida and under normal circumstances I would have been able to take a short flight to Atlanta and then a manageable 2.5-hour drive to Wade Hampton. However, being extra cautious, I decided to plan a short vacation in nearby South Carolina and decided that driving the whole way would be the practical choice, which meant an 11-hour trip each way.

Similar to designs by Coore & Crenshaw or Pete Dye, you can almost always tell when you are playing a Tom Fazio golf course. However, when you’ve played countless courses by a single architect, it becomes harder and harder to be “wowed” and genuinely distinguish one course from another unless there is something unique about the design or land. One of the hardest things an architect faces when designing a golf course is creating variety and interest for all 18 holes while building a golf course that is still cohesive. Few courses accomplish this rare feat and those that do are consistently and deservingly the top ranked. Of all the Fazio designed courses I have been fortunate enough to play, the gold standard for me has long been Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. Nearly every single hole at Shadow is memorable and special. Shadow is one of those courses that should be on everyone’s to-play list – it ranks inside my personal top 25 in the United States. There are other excellent Fazio courses that I find memorable as great overall experiences such as Hudson National, Galloway National, The Summit Club, Wynn Golf Club, The Estancia Club, Black Diamond Ranch, Whisper Rock Upper Course, Emerald Dunes, Jupiter Hills Club, Pablo Creek, and Caves Valley. The difference between all of these and Shadow Creek is that there are far more individual holes at Shadow Creek that stand out as special and memorable with an overall outstanding 18-hole experience. I have yet to play Gozzer Ranch, Congaree, The Alotian Club,and Frederica, but now after playing Wade Hampton I have seen all the other well-known Fazio designs.

Now that you have the backstory of why the standard was set so high for my visit to Wade Hampton I’m going to share with you why I titled this review “A Fazio Design Like No Other”. I had the privilege of playing my round with Wade Hampton’s Director of Golf, Pete Mathews, and a passionate 20-year member named Steve. Both had a wealth of information on the history of Wade Hampton to share with me and I could not have had a more enjoyable time unless the late founder William McKee or Tom Fazio himself were in our group.

Before I share some specific hole highlights allow me to leave out the dramatic build up and give you the bottom line right now, Wade Hampton is nothing short of an exceptional golf course and experience. Thanks to the incredible vision and execution by the late founder, William McKee, there is not a single detail overlooked at Wade Hampton from the moment you arrive until the second you leave. While the course was built in 1987 and the greens were renovated in 2017, you would think the entire club is brand new, that is just how pristine everything is at this incredibly well-run slice of golfing heaven. The layout of the property is perfect. A nice putting green sits near the clubhouse and it takes a decent length golf cart ride to get to the practice range, practice pitching greens, and a second putting green. A short walk from the practice area brings you to the first tee. Before you walk onto the tee box to start your round, you can’t miss a lifelike statue of Mr. McKee – everyone is reminded who made it all possible each and every time they get to play this course. Mr. Mathews gave me great insight into Mr. McKee’s high-energy personality and driving passion to live life to the fullest, and he made sure Wade Hampton is one of the best golf experiences in the world.

William McKee statue - Wade Hampton Golf Club

Wade Hampton has a routing and flow that feels like it was just meant to be this way. One of its unusual features is that, to my knowledge, it’s one of only two courses ranked in the top 50 on any list that both starts and ends with a par-5 {Shoreacres in Illinois is the other}. I think that’s a super cool and distinguishing feature. For a good golfer, a par-5 is a great hole to start and finish your round with because every good golfer mentally prepares for what should be a great birdie opportunity and most often a straightforward par. Thus, for a good amateur golfer or a professional, Wade Hampton starts and finishes with what should be a positive memory.

So, with that preamble, I am ready to share my journey through Wade Hampton with you. A Fazio Design Like No Other click the link to read more.

July 29, 2020
10 / 10
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Adam Joyce

I can't imagine that golf gets much better than this. Wade Hampton did not meet my expectations; it blew them away. As the assistant professional told me, this is old Fazio, when he worked with the land instead of imposing on it. Although it is a mountain course, it is perfectly placed in the valley, and nearby Chimney Top serves as a beautiful backdrop for several holes.

Pros:

-Stunning aesthetics and wow factor

-Amazing par-3's (3, 6, and 17) and par-5's (1,10, and 18) are the highlights of the course.

-Perfect, and I mean perfect, conditions throughout the property.

-Wade Hampton is a course that keeps you guessing. Your're not quite sure what hole is next, but you can't wait to find out.

Cons:

-The par-4's are very good, but not as strong as the 3's and 5's. A few true doglegs would help.

-The day we played the turf was perfect, but as others have stated, they have continuously improved drainage due to the extreme amount of rain in the area.

As a person who loves to play new courses, and at this point, almost only new courses, Wade Hampton is the only one out of 215 that I would return to immediately if given the chance.

August 23, 2019
9 / 10
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John Sabino

Wade Hampton sits at 3,650 feet in elevation. The course begins on the highest point on the property with a 534-yard par five that plays down into a big valley. The course is essentially built into the mountain and has a lot of elevation change. The major characteristics of the course are its brilliant use of the elevation, its lushness and the creative routing through the large and omnipresent trees.

The par threes at Wade Hampton, as with most Fazio courses, are all very good. The sixth hole is a good example. It plays 152 yards downhill. In a very interesting design feature, the water in front of the green flows over a large granite slab that slopes down the hill. I came up short and my ball bounced off the rock onto the green. Apparently, there has been a hole in one recorded on this hole from a ricochet off the rock. The 172-yard par three eleventh is another downhill beauty that uses the trees and bunkers to perfectly frame this verdant hole.

At least twelve holes at Wade Hampton play from an elevated tee box and the thirteenth is the most dramatic of them all. The 406-yard hole plays from an elevated tee and the second shot is also down a hill to the green.

The eighteenth is a really good short par five finishing hole that gets progressively narrower from tee to green. Down its entire left hand side there is a stream and the fairway slopes right to left. It is equally as magnificent viewed from either the tee or the green. The intoxicating clubhouse provides a welcome distraction as you approach the green. It has a series of cascading porches, verandas and patios and exudes understated Southern elegance. The boys put some serious money into this exclusive mountain hideaway.

John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs

November 27, 2016
6 / 10
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Larry Berle
Wade Hampton is in Cashiers, North Carolina, where the rich of Atlanta, eastern Tennessee, and Florida come to escape the summer heat. It’s another fine fall day, and Wade Hampton is another fabulous course designed by Tom Fazio. Fazio has 10 courses on the Top 100, more than any other architect, and I loved Shadow Creek, Victoria National, World Woods and Black Diamond Ranch – all of which he designed. Since Fazio lives in Hendersonville (about 40 minutes from here), I had to ask if Fazio might be at the club today. His wife was playing, as it turns out, but not Tom…

Wade Hampton is set up in two very different mountain valleys. The holes had generous landing areas, but plenty of trouble around the greens. As my host drew his approach shot towards the pin on Number 1, he announced in his Southern drawl, “That ball had good towards, which is better than havin’ yonders.” The par 3s are wonderful: Number 6 is a short downhill over a stream surrounded by water, Number 17 is very interesting with two steward trees that look like goalposts in front of what looks like an average-size flat green until you get up there and see that it’s gigantic and far from flat. It’s one of the most challenging greens on the course. After the turn I heard that Tom Fazio – a man I would love to meet – had come to pick up his wife. I’d just missed him. Larry Berle
December 07, 2014
4 / 10
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Keith Baxter
December 07, 2014
The above review is an edited extract from A Golfer’s Dream, which has been reproduced with the author’s kind permission. A Golfer’s Dream, by Larry Berle, tells the story of how a regular guy conquered America’s Top 100 Golf Courses (following Golf Digest’s 2001/2002 list). Larry has exclusively rated for us every course in the hundred, using our golf ball rating system. However, Larry did not rate the 100 courses against every golf course he has played, but instead he rated them in relation to each other within the hundred. Consequently, in some cases, his rating may seem rather low. A Golfer’s Dream is available in Kindle format and also on Kindle Unlimited via Amazon... click the link for more. 
Paul Loudon
Wade Hampton has to go down as one of the most spectacular courses in the world. That might seem like a massive overstatement but the way the course winds its way through the stunning Blue Ridge mountains is truly breath-taking. I was lucky enough to play it in October when the Autumnal colours were at their most splendid. Throw in some sparkling mountain lakes and a spattering of wildlife and it really makes for a quite wonderful setting. The golf course certainly does the surroundings justice too. The opening tee shot playing down into a valley sets the scene for an immensely enjoyable 18 holes to follow. The par three 3rd, with its green tucked into the mountainside next to a small waterfall is a magnificent hole, and extremely demanding to boot. The course offers a real test of golf as the regularly changing undulations, direction of play, length and layout of holes etc ensure that very few of the same shots are played. I certainly seemed to use almost every club in the bag. I've been lucky enough to play numerous exceptional courses including the likes of Muirfield, Royal County Down, Sunningdale, Peachtree and Monte Rei, however if I had to choose one course to play for the rest of my life, I would have to say Wade Hampton would get the nod.
October 09, 2014
10 / 10
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Zachary B Conklin
Wade Hampton Golf Club is an amazing course in the North Carolina Mountains, located in Cashiers. Wade Hampton was the golf course that really putWade Hampton Golf Course - Photo by reviewer Tom Fazio on the map, and we all know now that there is no designer with more top 100 courses than Fazio. The great thing about the course I thought was it is actually sitting down in a valley, so it provides the most amazing views of the mountains off behind you, and allows you to really take in the whole golf experience. Mr. Jeffrey Heilbrun the General Manager was an amazing host; we were blessed with an absolute beautiful day in the middle of a thunderstorm weekend, like it was pre determined that we were meant to play the Fazio gem. One of the greatest aspects of the course is that, you never really get to see another golf hole and get distracted with the layout, you get to just come to each tee box surprised, and with holes like 18, there is not much better than your approach shot to the club house with water left, and the Fazio coffin bunkers protecting it as General Wade Hampton would have wanted., Bottom line bucket list course and experience. I recommend to anyone.
July 10, 2013
8 / 10
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Fergal O'Leary
The drive from Ashville, NC airport to the quiet mountain town of Cashiers, NC is an experience in itself. The ironic thing is that if you run out of gas or puncture a tire, you’ll quickly discover that you don’t have reception on your mobile phone – so drive carefully! Tom Fazio is the architect at Wade Hampton and resides in the town of Cashiers. Fazio is not scared of building world class masterpieces and does whatever it takes. Surrounded by spectacular mountains, dynamite was required for multiple fairways so that the preferred routing could be satisfied. When this course was being built, varying opinions weighed in on where many of the holes on the front nine would be, but the final result is not just a USA top 100 layout, but a World top 100 resident. Generous landing areas exist, although don’t be fooled into always hitting the big dog. The scratch player will find themselves pulling 3 wood more times than not to avoid excellent fairway bunker complexes, ponds, hidden creeks and to realize that you’re better off with a full shot into elevated greens. I often joke with myself that Fazio must have gotten lost or had a screw loose when he decided on some of this locations (eg: Wade Hampton, Shadow Creek, Victoria National) purely because of the remote nature or the seemingly impossibility to create 18 holes – but he always comes up trump. The privacy at Wade Hampton is something which I have not experienced very often and you really feel like a king for a day. Excellent playing conditions and mouth-watering tee box visuals offer a crescendo all the way to the 18th and beyond.
October 08, 2012
10 / 10
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John
By some considerable distance, this is Tom Fazio’s finest design. The routing of the course is incredible given the setting and green sites are at times jaw dropping. I’ve played many great courses around the world, more than half of the world top 100, and Wade Hampton is in my personal top 10. Was lucky enough to get an invite from a friend who became a member and I’ve now played it three times and each time it gets better. Service, conditioning, challenge and the scenic backdrop are pure class.
March 10, 2010
10 / 10
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