When golfers think about South Carolina, most are envisioning the coastal regions: Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, Charleston. But for those relocating to the state, Upstate South Carolina – specifically the Greenville area and nearby Lake Keowee – offers both relaxing mountain terrain and a treasure trove of high-end private and public golf.
Country Club Golf
Greenville’s gold standard is Greenville Country Club, with its two 18-hole tracks: the Robert Trent Jones-designed Chanticleer, annually ranked among the state’s finest, and the Riverside course – the club’s original 18, built by William B. Langford in 1923 on a Donald Ross routing, and updated by George Cobb in 1962. Both courses are located inside the city for easy access, and count several PGA Tour players as members.
Also close to downtown Greenville is the Thornblade Club, home to PGA Tour Champions member Jay Haas (whose home overlooks the course) and other Tour players. Designed by Tom Fazio, Thornblade annually hosts the Web.com Tour’s BMW Charity Pro-Am, and has an excellent practice facility.
Mountain & Lake Golf
For those seeking golf community living who don’t mind a drive from Greenville, the Lake Keowee area – about 30 minutes from the city – has a variety of big-name golf designs. One of the best, as well as the biggest name in the game, is the Reserve at Lake Keowee, a Jack Nicklaus signature design, with striking elevation changes and views of the lake and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Clemson’s nationally-ranked men’s golf team practices and hosts an annual collegiate tournament there.
Offering a variety of golf and living experiences are The Cliffs – seven courses, six in South Carolina plus the Cliffs at Walnut Cove near Asheville, N.C. Cliffs membership offers playing privileges at each of the seven.
The original is Cliffs at Glassy, designed by Greenville native Tom Jackson and billed as South Carolina’s only mountaintop course (3,000 feet above sea level) and the nation’s fourth most scenic course by Golf Digest, offering 50-mile views of the neighboring mountains.
Tom Fazio designed two courses: Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards, with eight holes overlooking Lake Keowee, and Cliffs at Keowee Springs, designed to allow six-hole rounds for the time-constrained. Also in the lineup are Cliffs at Keowee Falls, another Nicklaus design; Cliffs Valley, by former TV announcer Ben Wright and the most “user-friendly” of the courses; and the newest, Cliffs at Mountain Park by Gary Player, built in 2013 and playing along the North Saluda River.
Private golf dominates Greenville, but a handful of public courses are also noteworthy. The Furman University Golf Club was voted No. 16 among “Best Campus Courses” by Golfweek in 2015, the result of a 2008 renovation by Pinehurst-based architect Kris Spence that also made it No. 1 among public courses in Greenville. PGA Tour veteran Brad Faxon and LPGA Hall of Famers Beth Daniel, Betsy King and Dottie Pepper honed their games at Furman.
North of Greenville near U.S. 25 is Tigerville’s Cherokee Valley Golf Club , designed by P.B. (son of Pete) Dye and offering long mountain views, particularly at the signature 15th hole. Originally built as a private club, it is open to the public, with preferred pricing for those booking online.
If you’re visiting Greenville with the idea of relocating, book a stay at the Embassy Suites off Interstate 85 and walk to the Preserve at Verdae , with its steep elevation changes, brooks and streams, and another host course for the BMW Charity Pro-Am. What better way to get a feel for Greenville golf?