Bob Gillespie



Aim for the top: S.C.’s Course of the Year shooting for best in U.S.

Posted 12/4/2011 10:18:00 PM

The Links at Stono Ferry, located 30 minutes from downtown Charleston in the town of Hollywood, has enjoyed an awards-filled autumn, earning first Charleston Area Golf Course of the Year and, more recently, the 2011 S.C. Course of the Year honors by the S.C. Golf Course Owners Association. Now, the Ron Garl-designed public-access layout has its eyes on one more prize: National Golf Course of the Year.

How to achieve that? Stono Ferry general manager Greg Wood – named the Carolinas PGA Section’s merchandiser of the year in 2010 – has his plans laid out.

First, Stono Ferry will pursue the National Golf Course Owners Association’s “chapter course of the year” award. Win that, and the Lowcountry course will enter the running for the nation’s best, to be selected by the NGCOA’s board of directors later this fall.

Criteria for selection include 1) exceptional quality of the course, 2) exceptional quality of ownership and management, 3) contribution to the community and 4) significant contribution to the game of golf.

The notion of a South Carolina course claiming the award is hardly far-fetched; in 2004, the inaugural nation’s best award was captured by Myrtle Beach’s World Tour Golf Links. So what does Stono Ferry have in its corner?

Plenty, Wood said.

Built in 1989, the course measures 6,814 yards from its championship tees and offers four other tees ranging to 4,966 yards. Stono Ferry is a two-time Charleston course of the year, having first been named in 2003. The course was named among the top 100 to play in the Carolinas in both 2006 and 2007.

“The Stono Ferry experience, and our commitment to making it the best it can be, reaches far beyond tees, greens and fairways,” Wood said. “Our golf experience reflects our dedication to consistently provide superior course quality and playability for our members and guests, while simultaneously fulfilling our responsibilities of environmental stewardship and historic preservation.”

There’s plenty of history, with the property’s roots going back to pre-Revolutionary War times. Stono Ferry was used by area plantations to ferry goods across the Stono River, and served as an artillery site during both the Revolutionary and Civil wars. As a reminder of those times, a cannon from that period is located near the 12th hole, while part of the 13th hole is laid out along an old railroad line dating to the 1850s.

But Stono Ferry also is immersed in the present, notably in golf instruction. Its 2,853-square foot Golf Learning Center, built in 2007 in partnership with the College of Charleston, provides a “game improvement” facility for the school’s men’s and women’s golf teams, club members and guests. Available are 1,877 square feet of indoor hitting bays on two levels; workout facilities, club repair and hitting bays equipped with launch monitors and video swing analysis for fittings and lessons.

“This practice facility is the best in South Carolina, and allows us to attract recruits from all over the country,” said men’s golf coach Mark McEntire. “I believe this facility is the missing piece to the puzzle and will allow us to return to national prominence.”

Stono Ferry is a semi-private club open to member, local and golf vacation play. For tee times and/or membership information, call (843) 763-1817, (888) 785-1813 or click here.