Yeamans Hall Club
South Carolina, United States of America

Sixth hole, 185 yards, Redan; A classically manufactured Redan hole and one that stands out for the width of its green complex. No kidding, the line off the tee can vary one day to the next by 30+ yards, something that is unheard of on a one shot hole. As a result, one could merrily sit on the tee with a small bag of balls and try to get the draw just right. The Club wisely allowed Urbina to extend the tee box back another twelve yards in 2003 to force the better player to keep a mid iron in his hand. The ground game aspects of a Redan green complex do not function as well if the player is hitting in too short (i.e. too high) a club.

Yeaman Hall’s attention to detail is admirable: the bunkers 40 yards shy of the putting surface were restored in 2006 and harken back to the short ones at North Berwick.

The early morning light highlights the pronounced kicker slope that dominates the play of the Redan with the thinking golfer using the right to left slope to access back left hole locations.

As at North Berwick, three bunkers guard the rear of the green. The odds of a successful up and down to a green that races away are not in the golfer’s favor. Recovery from the front left bunker is much easier as the golfer can use the slopes to his favor.

Seventh hole, 430 yards, Road; The essence of an approach to any Macdonald/Raynor Road Hole is how one runs the approach shot past the front left Road bunker while avoiding the long bunker along the right  that simulates the road at St. Andrews. In this case, like the Road Hole at Piping Rock, the approach is uphill. The fact that is still plays well is a testament to the firm conditions that Riddle provides. As of this writing in December 2017, the author doubts the course has ever played better. A recent round was highlighted by two shots. The first was seeing a bullet approach with a hybrid hit just shy of the Bottle green, climb the false front and onto the putting surface, run, and then scurry off the back and down the tightly mown slope. The second was a crisply struck approach with a mid iron to the Road green that just carried the Road Bunker, the ball then released down the slope of the green which runs away back left and again was dumped off the green. The playing conditions are that pristine and firm at the moment. When asked, Riddle thinks he will be able to maintain the new Bermuda Celebration fairways and Champion G12 greens that firm for years to come.

The 10,000 square foot green is draped on the crest of the hill with the front half facing toward the golfer and the back half running away. Only a precisely judged approach will do given the firmness of the turf.

Eighth hole, 425 yards, Creek; After the fourth, the preponderance of playing corridors is straight on the non-one shot holes. Yet the golfer is unlikely to realize that fact as either the placement of the hazards or the greens or the backdrops greatly vary. Here, this natural hole falls over the property’s most dramatic terrain and impresses as it heads toward the savannah. Several paces beyond the back edge of the 44 yard long green is Goose Creek. The deep green paired with the clean backdrop combine to create depth perception issues and make it difficult to chase after back hole locations with the required conviction. Consequently, this is home to an abnormal amount of three putts. Interestingly enough, the most spectacularly situated green site on the course features the shallowest greenside bunkers.

The attractive lowcountry backdrop to the downhill 8th. On the odd occasion such as with the 15th at Shoreacres, a favorite hole emerges when Raynor broke from building a template and created something original.

The entrance onto the putting surface is at grade with the fairway and sure enough, that means that the greenside bunkers are the most shallow on the course.

Ninth hole, 530 yards, Long; As recently as twenty years ago, there was only one bunker tee to green, thus robbing this three shotter of much playing interest. Four of Raynor’s original five bunkers have been now restored and the golfer needs to negogiate past them to set up a pitch to the built-up green complex. The green features one of the most pronounced north/south spines on the course and the golfer is wise to use its slopes to access perimeter hole locations, rather than flirt on his approach with the deep greenside bunkers. While this isn’t among the course’s best holes, it is among the most improved. Though it may seem counterintuitive to focus on the worst as opposed to the best, one way to judge a course is take a look at its bottom third holes (i.e. your six least favorite holes) and if they are of the standard of Yeamans Hall’s, then you have something special.

As seen above with the ninth tee markers, a fastidious effort has been made over the past several years to return any built-up tees to grade. Removing such artifice only shines the light on the natural environment. The railroad track tee markers pay tribute to the Club founders and how they arrived via train from the North.

The 1st, 7th and 9th tee balls feature the only forced carries on the course, and all of those are under 80 yards. If there is a finer course in the United States on which to learn the game and then enjoy it for life, the author hasn’t seen it.

Tenth hole, 360 yards, Cape; As previously noted, one aspect of the 2017 restoration is the addition of eight acres of fairway, with the tenth hole being a prime beneficiary. Interestingly enough, a non-Raynor bunker was removed left of the fairway and, if anything, the tee shot became harder as errant tee balls left now scamper unimpeded until they find worse trouble than the shallow bunker that was removed. The author paced off the fairway and started laughing less than half way through as he realized he had already covered the distance of many a parkland fairway. Picking the line off the tee is a matter of interpretation and hinges on the day’s hole location. The manner in which the green’s right side rises into a shelf and protrudes into the steep right bunker is how the hole garners its name. Far right hole locations are among the toughest on the course and the approach angle on such days is immeasurably improved by a drive long left. Long time Head Professional Claude Brusse is a big fan and notes, ‘The clearing has opened up more options off the tee and creates more depth perception problems. Yeamans Hall is a course where Raynor wanted you to have multiple lines to the green with risk-reward, also doubt is created when you put yourself on a line to the green where the surface cannot be seen and the depth of the green cannot be determined.’ The tenth embodies those very sentiments.

The 68 yard (!) fairway stretches out of view. The player delights in finding a shortish length two shotter at the start of the second nine as he has just played four difficult two shotters in the past six holes. Yet, don’t let the wide fairway fool you as the green is the smallest target on the course plus it has the fiercest interior contours with a deep horseshoe imprint.

Trees were cleared behind the green and the short iron approach to the 10th holds plenty of interest as…

…deep bunkers left (seen above), right and behind make for a taxing recovery. As with many Raynor designs, the bunkers aren’t so much deep as the green pad is tall.

This golfer’s approach was sucked down into the thumb print indentation. Instead of a short birdie putt, his hands are now full to avoid three putting.

Eleventh hole, 410 yards, Maiden; Yeamans Hall’s trump card over Raynor’s design at nearby Country Club of Charleston is the rolling topography with which Raynor had to work. He made perfect use of it here whereby a forty yard gulley intersects the fairway starting 215 yards from the tee. Tee balls down the left have a clear view of the Maiden green but Raynor’s bunker cut into the far side of the gulley insures that many an approach is blind. The concept of a blind approach in the lowcountry is novel indeed (!) but the hole’s lasting attribute has to be its rolling Maiden green, with its elevated back left and back right sections.

The temptation on the tee might be to call this hole ‘flat-ish.’ However, …

… it is anything but as this view from the gulley indicates. In fact, what a fascinating photograph: the green would be visible had it not been for Raynor’s high bunker wall. This is a prime example of an architect in the Golden Age actually creating a blind shot, something many modern architects are timid to do.

The two approach shots provide radically different putts. The tight turf even looks fast on this winter’s day!

Twelfth hole, 360 yards, Narrows; A drive and pitch hole of exception, to the point that it might be the course’s most underrated hole. Should one lay back from the penal left fairway bunker that pinches in at the 245 yard mark? Or risk a driver to carry past the ridge that the bunker is cut into and thus be on the same level as the green? As part of the 2017 restoration, a non-Raynor bunker was removed from the right side of the fairway which was expanded to once again offer the optimal angle into this angled green. When a club has the fortune to be custodian of a work by one of the all-time master architects, duty falls on it to do the right thing. As it is presented, Yeamans Hall reeks of being authentic to the architect’s intent as opposed to being a hodge-podge of different board’s interpretations based on fads of the time. Augusta National, please take note.

As with the modest length 10th, the fairway is astonishingly wide – and the green complex is equally ornery. At 5,635 square feet, this angled green is second only to the 10th as the smallest target on the course.

This view from near the 13th tee highlights how the 12th green feeds balls into the long back bunker. In addition, this is but one of many instances where the golfer enjoys a short green to tee walk, making Yeamans Hall one of the game’s finest walks.

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