Chechessee Creek Club

Seventh hole, 180 yards; With Chechessee Creek and the tidal marsh on the left,the tranquil setting belies the fact that this is a tough par. A roughed up mound sixty yards shy of the green creates depth perception problems which are compounded by one of the more severe false fronts on the course. Most golfers find themselves coming up short of this green, which is ringed with trouble. Over time, even the best golfers become satisfied by hitting the middle of the green.

The fronting bunkers that grab the golfer’s eye off the tee are actually 60 yards shy of the green.

The tee ball needs to land well onto the green as the three foot false front sends many a ball back off. The natural presentation of the bunkers help make them the most handsome ones in the southeast.

Eighth hole, 440 yards; In between the dogleg left 435 yard sixth and the 465 yard dogleg right ninth lies this brute, the most heavily bunkered hole on the course with eight. Unless a good tee ball is away, a pair of cross bunkers that angle across the fairway fifty yards shy of the green become problematic.

The tee ball at the 8th needs to avoid these two bunkers left of the fairway as well as one to the right.

This appealing bunkering scheme cuts 50 yards in front of the green and then…

…wraps down the left of the 8th green.

The view of the 8th green from the 9th tee highlights how Coore & Crenshaw created depth to the bunkers by building up the green sites just enough to make them attractive targets. Also, the short fifty yard walk from green to tee is repeated throughout the course, making Chechessee a dream walking course.

Eleventh hole, 210 yards; When the golfer first glances at the score card and sees a 6,600 yard course, he may think that the need for long iron shots will be few and far between – and he would be wrong. With six of the two shotters longer than 400 yards and three of the one shotters longer than 190 yards, the golfer’s long iron game gets a work out, even in still conditions.

Though wetlands are near the 11th green, the golfer is still given room to play.

Twelfth hole, 340 yards; Courses built 75 years ago rarely featured numerous forced carries, and this is the sole forced carry on the course of any meaningful distance (the one on the fifteenth is less than 60 yards). Without doubt though, the wedge approach is the trickier of the two shots for the better player. This green is the only one that is wider than it is deep and features a bunker that eats into the middle of it, creating a bit of a horseshoe green. When the hole is located directly behind the bunker, the golfer is wise to use the green’s contours as a back stop.

A 180 yard carry from the back right tee is followed by…

…the need for a deft pitch to a green with a solitary bunker cut into its middle. Given the day’s hole location, a drive down the left is ideal. The shadows make Chechessee particularly attractive in the afternoon.

Thirteenth hole,165 yards; Though one should never lose a ball at Chechessee, playing to one’s handicap remains quite the task. In many ways, the thirteenth epitomizes the challenge: Within reach of all skill sets, the target (i.e. the green) is elusive to find and if missed, then three shots are more likely to be required than two.

The bunkering makes the 13th deceptively difficult: the 30 yard long left front bunker barely touches the green’s front edge while the right bunker is actually on the right middle side of the kidney shaped green.

In an effort to avoid the right bunker, many a member tugs their tee ball left, resulting in a tricky recovery from a tightly mown area.

Fourteenth hole, 405 yards; Risk reward decisions abound off the tee at Chechessee. The golfer who hits it around 230 yards generally finds the widest spots in the fairway while the golfer intent on hitting it 275 yards is often required to shape the ball into a narrower neck. Both skill sets have equal fun playing the course.

Should the golfer shorten the approach by hugging the right off the 14th tee? Conversely, there is plenty of room to the left with a tee ball that goes over the far grass clump still likely to find fairway.

The 14th green complex is the most built-up one on the course. Three different recovery shots are required for the three balls seen above with the golfer about to play needing to hit some form of flop shot.

Fifteenth hole, 600 yards; When Coore was trying to determine the ideal routing, his only real guide posts were the stunning specimen trees such as live and angel oaks that dot the property. The fifteenth is a perfect example of how the sighting of two such trees led to the creation of a particular hole. 150 yards shy of the green on the right is a low lying live oak. Up by the green is another oak. If the golfer is willing to take on the first live oak and the enormous bunker just past it, he is rewarded with a clean look down the length of the green. As he shies away from the first live oak, the second one creates more and more of an awkward approach.

The use of this wetland is telling: rather than place a green on the far side, Coore & Crenshaw placed the 15th tee on the near side, making the short carry off the tee a non-event. Countless modern courses in South Carolina have greens bordered by wetlands, from which there is no recovery. The concept of finishing a round at Chechessee with the same ball that one started with is part of the fun and is a great differentiator from most of the other coastal modern courses in South Carolina.

Flirting with the live oak and bunker on the right leaves the best line into the green. The shadow falling near the green speaks to the greenside proximity of the other live oak.

Sixteenth hole, 245 yards; Of all the famous holes in the world, the author’s least favorite is the sixteenth at Carnoustie Golf Links. At 245 yards, the author likes the half par distance but the sixteenth at Carnoustie is a complete bore to play as it is bunkered tightly left and right. Only one type shot will do and little thought is required. Conversely, the sixteenth at Chechessee is at that same appealingly awkward length but the golfer is free to play it any number of ways.

Features to note of the 16th green include the five foot deep bunkers along the left of the green, how the open front of the green allows for a running shot, and the large tightly mown area to the green’s right. The near bunker in the photograph above is thirty yards from the front of the green.

Seventeenth hole, 335 yards; Pete Dye preaches about angles. Bill Coore, who once worked for Dye, perfects the notion of multiple playing angles here at the seventeenth. This two shotter may be drivable under certain conditions provided that the golfer is willing to attempt the direct route, which requires a 255 yard carry over a wetland area and a pair of bunkers. Otherwise, the golfer can progressively aim left and take less chance off the tee. A wonderful penultimate hole, it also offers a great change of pace between the long fifteenth, sixteenth, and eighteenth holes.

If the drive carries this bunker and avoids the hazard on the right, the golfer is left with a potential eagle chip or putt.

As compared to the other Coore & Crenshaw courses profiled on this site, trees play a fundamental role in suggesting how to play/shape certain balls: the lone pine in the fairway on the fifth, the pine 200 yards off the ninth tee, the trees tight down the right edge the twelfth fairway, the pine protruding into the fourteenth fairway, the live oaks on the fifteenth, the lone pine on the seventeenth, and a nest of trees on the inside of the eighteenth dogleg. They had no such decisions at Sand Hills but the use of select trees is a good example of Coore & Crenshaw adapting their style to take advantage of a site’s natural attributes.

Coore & Crenshaw not only left but highlighted the one-of-a-kind twisted pine tree off the 9th tee.

Chechessee Creek is what most architects talk about: a timeless, low profile course that is fun for all. The one difference is that Coore & Crenshaw and the Boys actually delivered the final product.

The End