Jim Chickarello was ready for a change. President of a consumer package goods business in Chicago in 2005, he decided to look for a place in the Southeast with golf and tennis that he could call his own.
He found exactly that at Legend Oaks Golf Club in Summerville, South Carolina, on S.C. 61 -- a two-lane, oak-shaded road lined by antebellum mansions. Tennis courts, a pool, a wood-frame clubhouse, and a golf course built in the 1980s and updated by a protégé of famed architect Pete Dye.
What more could he ask?
"I found it via a golf-broker network," Chickarello said. "I wanted to get into something fun, and after looking in Georgia, the Carolinas and Maryland, this was the one."
As far as business goes, Legend Oaks is successful because of location between Charleston and Santee; amenities, which include a full a full country club environment, and the booming Charleston economy. Still, it was the 7,111-yard, par-72 golf course that won him over.
"It's a great track, and the layout is one of its most distinctive elements," Chickarello said. A special feature is Diamond Zoysia greens, installed in 2014 and noted for smooth putting.
"It's a shot-maker's course," he said. "The par-3 holes are, I think, second to none in the Lowcountry."
Three of the par-3's, which range from 202 to 160 yards, feature water carries - 15 of 18 holes have water hazards. The Dye influence on architect Scott Poole, who renovated the course in 1994, is apparent in the bulkhead-guarded greens. The 17th hole, 175 yards from the back tees, has water and a U-shaped bunker guarding the front.
A pond guards the front with wetlands bordering the right side, and live oaks border the fairway. The course also features doglegs, sand and thick, old-growth forests, with a tighter front nine and a back nine that offers more room.
Chickarello's favorite hole is the par-4 16th for its multiple play options. Drive over water and through a gap on the right formed by a lone pine and the forest, and the approach over a large oak in front of the green is daunting but doable. Take the easier left side off the tee, and a 200-yard-plus approach makes that oak a true challenge.
Legend Oaks' grill room serves three meals each day, and the nearby four-bedroom Tudor Oaks B&B completes a stay-and-play option. And the golf course is a test that Chickarello - and visiting players - enjoy every day. For information, visitwww.legendoaksgolf.com or call 843.821.4077.
For more information on golf courses in South Carolina, visit DiscoverSouthCarolina.com/golf.