While golfers numbering well into the thousands regularly flock to South Carolina’s beautiful courses, a different kind of pilgrimage begins every fall, painting the state each Saturday in garnet, black, orange and purple. These pilgrims, of course, are the passionately dedicated football fans of Clemson University
and the University of South Carolina
In true Southern style, these beautiful fall weekends become impromptu reunions for families and friends as they gather around elaborate tailgates before cheering on the Gamecocks or Tigers. For the golfers in the group, these weekends also are the perfect opportunity to play some of Clemson and Columbia’s great courses.
The diehard fans in the group will undoubtedly want to check out Clemson’s Walker Course
and Cobblestone Park Golf Club
outside Columbia, the home of the Tiger
If you’re looking for proximity, you can’t get much closer to Clemson’s Death Valley than the Walker Course. In fact, on football Saturdays you can watch the traffic stream in from several of the fairways. As you would expect, available tee times are not plentiful on game days. However, according to Assistant Pro Scott Allen, Fridays and Sundays are both great days for visitors to enjoy the course during football season.
With a beautifully wooded front nine and a picturesque back nine that runs along the shores of Lake Hartwell, Walker is one of the most scenic courses in the upstate. It’s not all about the scenery, though. Golfers will be put to the test frequently, including an infamously difficult par-4 to finish up the front side. And just in case you forget where you are, the 17th hole reminds you, as the green and surrounding bunkers form the school’s beloved Tiger Paw.
Two other great options for golf convenient to Clemson
are Falcon’s Lair
in Walhalla and Cobb’s Glen Country Club
Falcon’s Lair, about 20 miles from the Clemson campus, is a pretty tough blend of target golf and distance. The course measures nearly 6,900 yards from the tips, but the tight fairways and angled shots require accuracy, forcing the long hitters to show some restraint. In addition, water comes into play on several holes, creating several risk/reward opportunities.
Cobb’s Glen, also about 20 miles from campus, was opened in 1976 and designed by George Cobb, the renowned architect who is perhaps most famous for designing Augusta National’s Par-3 course. Cobb’s Glen is a favorite of locals and is known for fast greens. It also features one of the toughest par-3’s in the upstate. A hole certainly worthy of Augusta, the 200-yard 11th requires a tee shot over water to a three-tiered green guarded by bunkers.
“Cobblestone Park is different than other Columbia area courses in the fact that the topography is very hilly,” said Tom Graber, General Manager and Director of Golf for Cobblestone Park Golf Club. “We are also home to the University of South Carolina Gamecocks golf team.”
Watch a video of Cobblestone Park Golf Course!
Both of these facts are evident the moment you arrive at the golf club, thanks to the elevated views from the clubhouse and the giant Gamecocks logo adorning the side of the practice facility.
Designer P.B. Dye, son of famed golf architect Pete Dye, did a masterful job utilizing the unusual topography, creating the kind of unique golfing experience usually reserved for mountain courses.
While not as close to campus as Clemson’s course, the 15-minute drive up Interstate 77 from Columbia to Cobblestone Park’s Blythewood location is worth every mile. From the design to the first-class conditions, the course would certainly be a highlight of any football weekend. And with 27 holes, Cobblestone is able to handle the typically larger crowds during football season and keep the rounds moving at a pretty good pace.
Other options near the University of South Carolina campus include Oak Hills
and Golden Hills Golf and Country Club
Oak Hills, fewer than 10 miles from campus, is amazingly picturesque for a course so convenient to an urban center. Named one of the “Places to Play” in 2006 by Golf Digest, Oak Hills is Southern golf at its best, with fairways bordered by tall Carolina pines, oaks and dogwoods.
Built on the site of a former dairy farm, Golden Hills treats golfers to a beautiful wooded, lakeside setting. Located in Lexington, about 10 miles west of campus, Golden Hills is a great option for golfers looking to squeeze in a quick round before an evening game, without getting caught up in the game-day traffic.
SC Golf Insider Robert Gilbert plays Cobblestone Park Golf Course
For more information
The Walker Course at Clemson
: (864) 656-0236; 230 Madren Center Drive, Clemson.
: (864) 638-0000; 1308 Falcons Drive, Walhalla.
: (864) 226-7688; 2201 Cobb's Way, Anderson.
Cobblestone Park Golf Club
: (803) 333-8100; 280 University Club Parkway, Blythewood.
: (803) 735-9830; 7629 Fairfield Road, Columbia.
Golden Hills Golf and Country Club
: (803) 957-3355; 100 Scotland Drive, Lexington.