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.
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.
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.