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Cobb's Glen Country Club Gets a Facelift

Bob Gillespie Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 350-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.
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A large painting hangs over Wade May's desk at Cobb's Glen Country Club in Anderson, portraying the club's owner and general manager teeing off at the 13th hole. "That's about 50 pounds ago," May says, laughing at his younger image. It's a striking rendering, but - as with Cobb's Glen - there's more to the painting, and the back story, than meets the eye.

Anderson artist Al Stine, who died earlier this year at age 93, made his name in the art world for other things besides golf. "He drew cartoons for Playboy (magazine)," May says, grinning. "He used to draw Christmas cards for Hugh Hefner." Two other Stine paintings hang in the Cobb's Glen clubhouse, and May says the late painter's work can be found all around Anderson.

What May mostly likes about the painting - besides that missing extra weight, of course - is how Stine made his subject look good. "Unfortunately, in the photo he used to paint from, my clubface was shut," May says. "Al took it home and (on the canvas) straightened that out."

Since buying the club 22 years ago, May - along with a partner, now deceased - has worked to keep the 1975 George Cobb design in shape and up to date. Once a private club, Cobb's Glen has been semi-private and open to outside play since 1991 and has become a popular choice for locals and visitors alike.

Certainly, the course has the credentials, having hosted two S.C. Amateur Championships (1978 and 1986) as well as an NGA (formerly Hooters) Tour stop. But in 2012, May realized - despite the economic downturn that has hit many golf courses hard - he needed to give the classic design a facelift.

"Any time you have a golf course more than 30 years old, it needs upkeep," he says. Last August, workers removed the original bent grass greens and installed Tif Eagle hybrid Bermuda - an improvement from a maintenance perspective as well as providing smooth, speedy surfaces year-round.

"We've gotten nothing but good comments" since the change, May says. "It actually has changed the atmosphere; everyone loved the layout but the greens kept getting worse. So we had to bite the bullet - but now the greens are up to the level of the rest of the golf course." He laughed. "The bunkers are next on the agenda."

Cobb's Glen reflects an old-style of design that offers mostly wide fairways and accessible greens, but penalizes players who stray into its thick Bermuda rough. Too, the new surfaces enhance the greens' contours and slopes, which range from subtle to dramatic.

At 7,002 yards (par 72) from the green (back) tees, Cobb's Glen is moderately long by modern standards. Seven par-4s measure 400 yards-plus, including the stout 436-yard ninth hole, the No. 1 handicap. Nos. 4 (par-5) and 5 (par-4) are tight driving holes, while the 405-yard sixth hole is "kind of a relief after those two," May says. "The iron shots into the greens are most important ones, especially when the greens are fast," as they currently are.

The quirkiest hole is the par-4 14th - "our Achilles heel," May says - which plays downhill to a pond, then uphill to an elevated green. With the fairway canting left-to-right, a mound added on the right prevents balls from scooting into the rough - or the water - and trees on the left that blocked too many shots were removed. The two-hole finish is solid, No. 17 demanding an approach over water to a steeply-sloped, back-to-front green and the par-4 18th requiring a long draw around trees in the left corner.

May says a big difference between Cobb's Glen now and in its private days is that "they didn't treat everyone well before, but now we try to make it relaxed and welcoming for everyone." With a downstairs card room/bar and an upstairs seating area, there's plenty of room for post-round reflection and socializing.

Rates are friendly, too: $30 weekdays, $39 weekends. Cobb's Glen is one of six courses in the area's AAG (All About Golf) Group, and multi-course packages are available. "It's a fun golf course to play," May says. "It won't beat you to death." Rather, it blends old-style design with modern playing features - though, alas, it can't take 50 pounds, or any strokes, off your game.

Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 350-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.