The Country Club of Charleston is the first Seth Raynor design I ever played. Back then, I knew nothing of template holes.
Two years on having seen many of the original template holes on which Raynor and Macdonald based their work, it was exciting to go back and look at the Country Club of Charleston (CCC) with fresh eyes.
CCC is on an incredibly flat piece of land which makes it difficult to execute some of the template holes. After all, distinctive terrain is needed to give a template hole some sense of character otherwise all the Raynor courses would be exactly the same!
The shortcomings of the land are exposed at CCC on the alps and biarritz holes which are disappointing. And the 1 meter high hogs back running along the 8th hole is moons away from the dramatic undulations of a hole like 16 at National Golf Links.
Nevertheless, the CCC renditions of the Knoll, Short and Road holes are excellent.
However, there are two holes that take the cake. Two holes which, in and of themselves, are worth seeing the course.
The first is the Redan. It is not a traditional Redan but the reverse variety. Perched below the clubhouse, it is a dominant feature of the course particularly given it's elevation juxtaposed against the unassuming land. Unlike the original, there are no front guarding bunkers and the elevated green swings to the right favouring a left to right shot. The green starts with a huge false front before it narrows up considerably with incredibly severe bunkers both left and right. A low running shot is favored and many low handicappers even hit bunt driver into the slope which then kicks up and rolls with the natural slope to the right.
Hogan famously said that the golf course was great but the 11th hole should be given a stick of dynamite. Respectfully, I disagree.
The second favorite of mine is the Lions Mouth. A long par four topped off with a green that wraps around a bunker that eats many a ball. The green is severely sloped from back to front with a backboard that, used creatively, allows the ball to loop right around the green. What more can I say than to offer up the photographs below.
What I do hope for is that somewhere, back in the land of the kiwi, that one or two gentlemen on the generally conservative and captured greens committees take note - this hole is the epitome of fun golf. Big funky shaped greens with square edges and plenty of undulations are dead set cool. LIke JP. Just watching a few members play the hole, seeing the crazy shots they hit and the way the ball rolls around on the green was enlightening. And they were most definitely enjoying it as well.
For a full review of the golf course see the excellent piece courtesy of Golf Club Atlas