South Carolina has a long and honored military tradition, ranging from training sites for the US Army (Fort Jackson) and US Marines (Parris Island) to US Air Force and US Navy facilities that serve to defend the nation.
There’s an equally distinguished tradition of golf in the state, so it’s no wonder that five of SC’s military sites also have golf courses to serve both active-duty personnel, retired servicemen and women – and, with restrictions, civilians as well.
These aren’t merely pitch-and-putt tracks, but some of the top military golf courses in the US. Because of security concerns, most courses require visitors to play accompanied by military or Department of Defense members, and to provide proof of identity to gain access – but for those who admire and respect our military, it’s a great chance to see the game as they do.
Here’s an overview of South Carolina’s military golf courses.
Course opened/architect: 1966/George Cobb
Yardages: back tees 6,634, front tees 5,805 (par 72)
Unique elements: A relatively flat layout with a pond on the 11th hole and streams in play elsewhere; variety of narrow and open fairways; nine-acre practice facility, golf shop and grill.
Access: Civilians must play with a military member, and must stop at the visitors’ center for registration and a day pass. A number of tournaments, advertised on the course’s website, are open to civilians.
Cost: Weekday rates $20 walking, $35 riding; weekends $23, $38; twilight and junior rates available.
Course opened/architect: 1953/military personnel
Yardages: back tees 5,705, front tees 4,189 (par 70)
Unique elements: Built on 125 acres with rolling terrain, live oaks with wildlife (foxes, turkey, deer, eagles, ospreys, alligators). Originally a brick foundry with graves of original owners bordering the 16th hole deemed a historic society graveyard.
Access: Civilians must play with a military member, and must stop at the visitors’ center for registration and a day pass. Tournaments advertised on the website may be open to civilians.
Cost: Monday-Wednesday $24, weekends $33; twilight (after 1 p.m.) $22.
Course opened/architect: 1949/George Cobb; a second 18 holes were integrated with the existing course in 1992 to create two 18-hole layouts
Yardages: Old Hickory, back tees 6,581, front tees 4,975; Wildcat, back tees 6,716, front tees 5,292 (both par 72)
Unique elements: Both courses feature generous fairways, elevation changes and fast greens. Old Hickory features water on eight holes; Wildcat has no water hazards. Extensive practice facility includes driving range, putting and bunker areas. View of Columbia’s skyline is on Wildcat No. 17.
Access: Open to active-duty and retired military, National Guard, reservists, Department of Defense and federal employees. Guests of military, etc. members must call ahead to golf course to register name, then enter fort at Gate 2 and obtain one-day pass at visitors’ control center. Course annually hosts numerous community events.
Cost: Weekdays $38, weekends $43 (with cart); military costs range from $22.50 to $38 weekends, $23-$32.
Course opened/architect: 1947/George Cobb; 1999 renovation by Clyde Johnston
Yardages: Back tees 6,898, front tees 4,969 (par 72)
Unique elements: Legends is ranked among the top 10 US military courses in the world. There are no homes on the golf course, with bordering oak trees, marsh and river views and rolling terrain. Each hole is named for a Marine Corps legend, including the par-3 third, named for the late Pittsburgh Pirates’ star Roberto Clemente, who went through Parris Island boot camp in 1959.
Access: Civilians do not require a military member to play and can gain access by showing a driver’s license, auto registration and proof of auto insurance at entry gate.
Cost: Weekdays and weekends, $38 for Beaufort County residents; non-residents $55 weekdays and weekends.
Course opened/architect: 1953/Ed Riccoboni
Yardages: Back tees 6,363, front tees 4,867
Unique elements: Generous fairways, water in play on a number of holes. Views of F-16 fighters taking off can be seen from several places on the course.
Access: Civilians must play with a military member, and must register at the visitors’ center and receive a day pass. Tournaments for civilians are advertised on the website.
Cost: Weekdays $29, weekends $31 (with cart); twilight (after 3 p.m.) weekdays $19, weekends $21.