The unofficial nickname of the 2017 PGA Championship – scheduled Aug. 10-13 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte – is “Glory’s Last Shot,” at least until golf’s decision-makers consider moving the dates from August to the spring (yes, that’s being proposed). This year, it’s also the final chance to see the world’s finest golfers (including defending champion Jimmy Walker) compete for a major title just a short drive from South Carolina.
Quail Hollow, normally the PGA Tour’s regular stop for the Wells Fargo Championship, has revamped the course renowned for its “Green Mile” finishing three holes. And while the PGA Championship doesn’t have the same type fans’ tradition as the Masters, where spectators plan a full week of watching and also playing golf, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
Share those tickets with your buddies and get in a round of golf during each of the tournament’s four days at a handful of excellent layouts just across the state line. You can find good food in these four SC towns, too, without paying uptown Charlotte prices. Crank up your GPS and go watch, play, eat and drink. It’s your “last shot,” after all.
THURSDAY (Round One at the PGA)
The first day of the PGA involves the longest drive to play golf – one hour-plus – but the reward is a hidden gem. Edgewater Golf Course was built in 2008 on a hilly, rolling piece of property with lakes and old-growth forests, and some spectacular views. Architect Bruce Brodsky teamed up with PGA Tour legend Fuzzy Zoeller (1979 Masters and 1984 US Open; he also finished second in the 1981 PGA) to build a course that’s challenging and fun.
The course, voted among the Charlotte area’s toughest by Charlotte Business Journal and ranked seventh in the US for best value in 2016, is a favorite of former Charlotte Hornet star Dell Curry, whose son (and two-time NBA champion) Steph can play a bit, too – witness his victory in the 2017 American Century Classic celebrity tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nev.
After golf, try out a local craft beer at Benford Brewing Co. (the Irish Honey Ale is a winner). For lunch, Whistling Pig is the place for barbecue, while Leigh Anne’s Restaurant offers a full menu of family favorites for the heartier appetite.
EDGEWATER GOLF COURSE, Lancaster
2380 Catawba Ridge Blvd., Lancaster
FRIDAY (Round Two)
With the PGA players jockeying to make the 36-hole cut in order to play the weekend, it’s a good time for a quick 45-minute trek south to Rock Hill, where Waterford Golf Club is just minutes off Interstate 77. Like Edgewater, Waterford, which opened in 1997, has a multiple-major-championships winner, Hale Irwin, as its architect, and fittingly given Irwin’s three US Opens, the course is a shot-makers test, with plenty of length, contours and water in play on 16 holes.
Rock Hill has a busy downtown with plenty to see and do, including another local South Carolina brewery, Legal Remedy, that offers a variety of craft beers. For a quick lunch or leisurely dinner, Michael’s Rock Hill Grille comes highly recommended; for a meal with a view, check out Grapevine Bar & Grill, located on the Rock Hill Riverwalk.
WATERFORD GOLF CLUB, Rock Hill
1900 Clubhouse Road, Rock Hill
SATURDAY (Round Three)
Saturdays are known as “moving day” among the PGA Tour players – it’s the round where they set themselves up for a charge at the title, or an early departure on Sunday. That makes it a good day to stick close to Quail Hollow and Springfield Golf Club in Fort Mill – another course that’s a stone’s throw from I-77, and fewer than 30 minutes from Quail Hollow – the perfect choice.
Designed by SC native Clyde Johnston, Springfield is a traditional, 1920s “Golden Age of Golf” layout located on a heavily-wooded, hilly site. With slick Mini Verde greens (added in 2010), players must negotiate the perils of Sugar Creek on four holes, and 13 holes play across streams feeding the Catawba River.
The perfect spot for a quick after-round meal is Hobo’s, a build-your-own-burger diner that has an industrial chic flair and a patio, not to mention an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. For more of a sit-down experience, Local Dish is the place to indulge yourself – and if you haven’t had enough SC barbecue yet, check out Dixie Pig.
SPRINGFIELD GOLF CLUB, Fort Mill
639 Hambley House Lane, Fort Mill
SUNDAY (Round Four)
From Quail Hollow, it’s just 37 minutes to Tega Cay, but you might feel as if you’ve totally escaped Charlotte’s urban scene. Situated on a 200-acre property jutting out into Lake Wylie – Tega Cay is Polynesian for “beautiful peninsula” – the course is the greater Charlotte area’s only 27-hole design with its Carolina Pines, Cove and Grande View nines. The 15,000-square-foot clubhouse and event pavilion offers terrific views of the lake and the club’s practice putting facility.
If you’re in a hurry to get back to Quail Hollow for the late-afternoon showdown, get a quick sandwich at Tega Cay Gourmet Deli, or if you want one last taste of Carolinas “Q,” head over to 521 BBQ & Grill. Also equipped with a bar but more of a relaxed dining experience is Fish Market Bar & Grill in Baxter Village, rated as York County’s top destination for fresh fish and seafood, plus steaks, pasta and more.
With the final putts, the PGA Championship brings to an end the 2017 majors season, but don’t despair. It’s only eight months until the Masters returns to Augusta, the RBC Heritage presented by Boeing tees off on Hilton Head Island, and two months after that the Wells-Fargo Championship returns to Quail Hollow. Of course, you don’t have to wait that long to come back to South Carolina for your own golf experience.
15083 Molokai Drive, Tega Cay
MONDAY (Bonus Round)
OK, the PGA Championship is done, but if you’re not in a hurry to get home, take a two-hour drive toward the Grand Strand and experience Cheraw State Park Golf Course. Named one of America’s “Super Value” courses by Golf Digest, this Tom Jackson-designed layout is another hidden gem.
For price, fun and a get-away-from-it-all day (on-site rental cabins are available), Cheraw is perfect. Water comes into play on just two holes, but they’re both testing: the brutally long (496 yards) par-4, dogleg-left 13th and the par-5 18th. The rest of the round has wide fairways, pine forests and enough sand to make up for so little water.
Afterward, treat yourself to The River’s Edge Restaurant & Bakery, located in Cheraw’s historic district and featuring Amish desserts (the restaurant is closed Saturdays and Sundays). The College Inn Diner is a local tradition with ribs, chicken, salads, and its Palmetto Poetry & Jazz the first Saturday of the month. And yes, there’s more barbecue: Hooks BBQ and Buffet; besides the obvious temptations, the macaroni and cheese is reputed to be worth the trip.
CHERAW STATE PARK GOLF COURSE, Cheraw
100 State Park Road, Cheraw