Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Charleston Has A Long, Illustrious Golf History And In 2012 Welcomes The 94th PGA Championship

Mark Twain once wrote, "Golf is a good walk spoiled." I am assuming by the tone of Twain's humorous quip about golf, he was either a poor golfer or never satisfied with his efforts. Sometimes after spending a day on the links, I have to agree with his comedic yet profound assessment. Now, I will reveal the case in point. This corresponding opinion is coming from the person who caught out of the air his own drive off the tee. You may wonder how that seemingly illogical feat could be possible. In verification to its unusualness, my fellow golfers for the day said it was a first for them. It's too bad a camera wasn't rolling because the video could have went viral and possibly been an instant hit on YouTube, subsequently leading to what could have been for me a brief claim to fame. Bearing this in mind, golf is one of those situations where at times I look brilliant and other times completely inept. I think it to be a good day on the course if I find more balls than I lose.
Painting by Carrol Ezel of David Dee's shipment

The first documented golf played in North America was right here in Charleston, although some dispute this notion and say New York was the first place. In the final analysis, the collective facts tilt in favor of Charleston. The most compelling of the facts revolve around a Scottish shipping merchant by the name of David Dees. David Dees moved to Charleston from Leith, Scotland, the place famous for organizing the first golf club in 1744. Dee's was also a store owner on E. Bay St. in the famous Rainbow Row. In 1743 Dee's received a shipment of 96 clubs and 432 balls from the Port of Leith. A very sizable shipment suggesting there was an active market in Charleston for acquiring this necessary equipement, at the time called mashies (clubs) and featheries (balls).

Existing written accounts show there was a golf association that played at Harleston's Green, a public park between what is now Calhoun and Bull Streets, east of Rutledge. This green area was commonly used by the public for riding and socializing. There was no permanent course as of yet, so they would dig holes around the park and hit the balls into them. William's Coffee House on the corner of Bay Street and Tradd served as the groups "club house". The first golf club was formed years later in 1786 called the South Carolina Golf Club. The Gazette, a Charleston newspaper of the time, made reference to the clubs scheduled events. Not so surprising, most of the members were of Scottish decent of which Charleston had a substantial population.  A similar group of golfers was formed a few years later in neighboring Savannah.
11th hole Country Club of Charleston

The South Carolina Golf Club's claim to fame is substantiated by the fact it has been listed as the oldest golf club in the United states by the USGA. The present day course, built in 1925, is called the Country Club of Charleston. It is located at 1 Country Club Drive. The course is home to one of the most feared holes in the Southeast. The 187-yard, par 3, number 11 is also the courses signature hole. It has a mounded green with an eleven foot deep bunker on the right and a seven foot bunker on the left. The intimidation is avoiding the deep bunkers off the tee because from there the picture isn't a pretty one.

This coming August 9-12, the Charleston area will be center stage in the world of golf. The 94th PGA Championship will be played on the No. 1 toughest course in the United States, the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island. The ranking was from a list of 75 registered courses compiled by Golf Digest. On March 22, reigning PGA Champion Keegan Bradley, visited the course for the first time during Media Day and said this about the course, “I think it’s a great track. It was very difficult, but fair at the same time. It’s going to take a complete player to win on the Ocean Course." He also raised the spector of the wind playing the Devils Advocate when he further said, “If the wind blows when we’re here in August, I think the winning score could be over par." Outside of Scotland and Ireland, the Ocean Course has more seaside holes than any other course in the Northern Hemisphere.
17th hole tee on the Ocean Course, Kiawah Island
Over the last few months, 12 holes at the Ocean Course have been tweaked for the Championship, mainly the reshaping of bunkers that have been altered by wind-blown sands over the years. The greens on the 5th and 11th hole received the most attention. The 5th hole is a 217-yard, par 3. A bunker on the left side of the green was lengthened to make a back, left pin placement more problematic. The 11th, a 591-yard, par 5, had an elevation change around its green. The left side used to be up about 3-4 feet above the surface of the green. It’s now about 6 feet below the surface in a collection area. The idea here is to create the temptation to go for the green on the second shot. A collection area is where a shot due to the slope of the terrain, either occurring naturally or man-made, will easily roll into.

You can play golf all year round in beautiful, historic Charleston. There are 20 championship golf courses around the Charleston area to choose from. With the 94th PGA Championship coming in August, Charleston's area hotels are offering plenty of golf packages for your convenience. Tickets for the Championship can still be purchased for the week days. So, grab your clubs and have some fun. When on the course, keep your expectations reasonable and you won't spoil a good walk.
My golf game
Golf trivia: Featheries were an appropriate name for golf balls before the advent of the modern golf ball. They were made from goose feathers and cowhide or horsehide. The feathers were stuffed into the leather while both items were wet. As the two dried out the leather shrank and the feathers expanded to create a hardened ball. The finished ball was then painted.


carolinagolftravelguide said...

first i want to thank you for posting such a blog.Because i am a big fan of golfing and you provided a lots of information.Your presentation style is also unique.Wonderful blog on Charleston Golf Packages

Vacation Rick said...

Thank you Carolina Golf Travel Guide. I am glad you liked the article.