Coore & Crenshaw’s First Carolinas’ Course Shaping Up

Native Carolinian Bill Coore and two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw have been designing golf courses together for 15 years. Their work has taken them to the far corners of the United States and abroad. But it had never taken them to the golf-rich Carolinas until now. The Chechessee Creek Club, located alongside the tidal waters of its namesake between Hilton Head Island and historic Beaufort, South Carolina, opened in fall 2000.

Since teaming up in 1986, Coore and Crenshaw have created some of golf's more acclaimed new layouts, including Sand Hills in Mullen, Nebraska, Cuscowilla on Georgia's Lake Oconee, the Plantation Course at Kapalua on Hawaii's island of Maui, Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the Barton Creek Club in Crenshaw's hometown of Austin, Texas.

The par-70 Chechessee Creek Club plays approximately 6,600 yards from the back tees. It was developed by Chaffin/Light Associates, builders of Callawassie and Spring Island, both located near Chechessee Creek Club.

The private club, open to only 350 members, features a traditional architectural style that takes advantage of the native oak forests and tidal marshlands of the 400-acre site. Other than a limited number of golf cottages, in the style of Yeaman's Hall Club in Charleston, the club has no adjacent real estate development. Raised greens, framed by deep bunkers and sharp drop-offs, give Chechessee Creek a personality that belies its youth and recalls a style made popular by such "Golden Era" architects as C.B. Macdonald, Seth Raynor and Donald Ross.

”I said one time in an interview on the Internet that this was, in our small way, something of a tribute to Seth Raynor,” explained Coore, who grew up in Thomasville, N.C. “But that is not meant in any way that Chechessee Creek is a copy of Yeaman's Hall or the Country Club of Charleston (both Raynor designs built in the mid-1920s). It just has that old-fashioned look and feel to it that would have come out of the era in which those two courses were done.

“We think that people from those two clubs might find elements of this club more familiar than people who might come from some of the newer courses. But it is not an overt attempt to copy Seth Raynor. It does have some sharp edges around the greens in places. It does have some platform-type greens, much like those at Yeaman's or certainly at the Country Club of Charleston. It has a little bit of that feel, with the approaches and the run-ups and everything. But no, it's not a direct attempt to copy.”

Instead, Coore explained, it was the Lowcountry landscape that dictated Chechessee's ultimate personality, rather than any concerted effort to replicate a given architectural style, although he and Crenshaw “have always tried to give some very classical looks to our golf courses,” he explained. “You hear this all the time,” Coore continued, “but you certainly try to fit the golf course to the site. In this case, the key elements of the site are the beautiful trees. Really, this is the only golf course we've ever designed that was almost completely designed around tree situations and trying to fit golf holes around some of these magnificent trees and letting them frame the hole and influence golf. It looks like Lowcountry golf.”

Coore added, “I think without question, it is a subtle design. There's not a lot of overpowering visual effects or anything of that nature here. I think it's going to be a very beautiful golf course. It's going to reflect the trees and the natural surroundings.”

Chechessee Creek Club, with five holes bordering scenic Lowcountry marshlands, features Tifdwarf Bermudagrass greens, 419 hybrid Bermuda fairways and Cavalier zoysia tees. Coastal Bermuda, a strain not often used on golf courses, is used in the rough, with bluestem introduced in the outer perimeter of the secondary rough. Capable of being grown to 18 inches in height, the coastal Bermudagrass provides a visual effect similar to that of the tall fescues used to frame the classic links-style courses of the Northeast.

While carts are available at Chechessee Creek, the course is designed as a traditional, walking course with minimal green-to-tee distances. Caddies are available year-round. Membership in the club is by invitation only. Anyone interested in more information should contact club manager Craig Lehman at 843/987-2000.