Golf at Lydia’s Fox Creek Golf Club

By:Bob Gillespie

Date:12/9/2011

Eighteenth hole at Fox Greek Golf Club in South Carolina
Fox Creek’s par-5 18th hole.

Back in the 1960s, Woody Morgan played basketball at Clemson as a 6-foot-9 center for coaches Press (father of Pete) Maravich and Bobby Roberts. After a year of industrial-league basketball, he returned to his hometown of Hartsville, where he raised cattle; having decided after three years there was no money in that, he returned to Clemson and earned a veterinary degree.

Then on Aug. 1, 1988, he opened a golf course: Fox Creek Golf Club, located on U.S. 341 in the town of Lydia, not far from Hartsville.

If that all sounds like an odd career path, Morgan has an explanation. “I raised cattle on this land,” the 69-year-old says, “and now I do this as a hobby.”

Some hobby. When not tending to animals, Morgan spends long days working on his 6,798-yard, par-72 layout, which winds across 260 acres of rolling terrain. It must be an addictive pastime: After he built Fox Creek with architect James Goodson (who did the design; Morgan routed the holes), he sold it in 1991 – and then bought it back in 1999.

He also built or bought five other courses, including Sumter’s Beech Creek and Manning’s Players Club at Wyboo, though Fox Creek is his lone golf property now.

Based on a recent round on a pleasant fall Sunday afternoon, Morgan and Goodson – who patterned a number of the course’s holes after ones he had built in Myrtle Beach – knew what they were doing.

Fox Creek isn’t your typical “rural” (Morgan’s word) course. Water comes into play on half the holes; the course also has sweeping elevation changes and interesting greens complexes with strategic mounding and dramatic bunkering. Fairways are 419 Bermuda hybrid and the greens are Tif Dwarf; green speeds are slower now because of winter rye over-seeding. Tee-to-green, it’s a fun, challenging course, one demanding a variety of shots.

The most dramatic hole is, fittingly, the par-5 18th, 576 yards from the back tees, which plays through a valley and past stands of pines off the tee, then doglegs left around a lake via a narrow fairway to a tucked, sloping green. Big hitters can reach in two, but must play over water, though the safer three-shot route still has to avoid the wet stuff.

The price is right, too; Fox Creek offers a single rate seven days a week of $25 with cart ($20 for seniors). “We used to charge more on weekends ($29), but I think it’s wrong to penalize folks who can only play then,” Morgan said. The course also takes part in spring and fall package deals through Florence-based Swamp Fox Golf.

Much of the clientele comes from nearby Darlington and Florence, and Fox Creek is something of a local secret. But it’s well worth the effort to find it – if only in case you’re wondering what sort of course a 6-foot-9, basketball player-turned-veterinarian would build.

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