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Three-Day Golf Itinerary in Rock Hill

Bob Gillespie Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 360-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.
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There are plenty of reasons to get to know Rock Hill, Fort Mill and the surrounding area. For businessmen, many of those reasons revolve around their close proximity to Charlotte, a banking center of the U.S. and a burgeoning location for all manner of commerce as well as sports.

The area is home to the NFL's Carolina Panthers, the NBA's Charlotte Hornets, many NASCAR teams and the SEC Network. There's also a plethora of other professional sports to enjoy, including minor league baseball and hockey, pro soccer, rugby and lacrosse.

Whether you're headed to the area for business or a weekend getaway, it's easy to squeeze in a few days of great golf.

Base yourself in Rock Hill at either the Holiday Inn or Hilton Garden Inn. Both are good choices with a central location. For dinner, you can't go wrong with The Pump House Restaurant in Rock Hill or Captain Steve's Family Seafood Restaurant in nearby Fort Mill.

Day one:

Grab breakfast at the hotel or stop by Jump N Java Cafe as you head to Fort Mill Golf Club.

Donald Ross needs no introduction to serious golfers - he designed hundreds of courses, including Pinehurst No. 2, site of the 2014 US men's and women's opens, before his death in 1948 - and well-versed players also know George Cobb, a prolific architect from the 1950s and 1960s. To get a taste of both styles, head for Fort Mill Golf Club, where each designed nine holes, Ross in 1947 and Cobb in 1959.

Fort Mill is part of the area's Springs Golf operation (other courses are Lancaster Golf Club, Chester Golf Club and Springfield Golf Club). It's a par-72 track that plays 6,801 yards from the tips (5,159 from the forward tees) and winds through oak and pine forests. In 2002, architect Clyde Johnston oversaw a $3 million renovation, using old master plan drawings to restore both Ross and Cobb nines to their original dimensions. The result is a delightfully playable course that evokes golf's era of course design from the 1920s to the 1940s.

For dinner, there's a great barbecue place called 521 BBQ in nearby Indian Land. And if you're looking for something sweet after your round, stop by Cupcrazed, a bakery specializing in, you guessed it, cupcakes. The baking team won on Food Network's "Cupcake Wars", and they go all out to impress.

Day two:

For a decadent and nutritious meal to start your day, grab breakfast at Famous Toastery in Rock Hill and then head to Springfield Golf Club.

Springfield, another Clyde Johnston product, was built in 2001 but harkens back to golf's Golden Age. The 6,906-yard, par-72 layout (4,854 from the forward tees) was built on a heavily wooded and hilly site, with four holes flanking Sugar Creek. The course demands accuracy, too, with 13 holes playing either across or alongside the creek and other tributaries of the Catawba River.

Springfield, from its imposing front gate to the large clubhouse, is one of Johnston's finest creations. Also like its sister course, it's only minutes from uptown Charlotte and a short drive from Interstate 77.

Two good choices for dinner are Local Dish and Six Pence Pub, both in Fort Mill.

Day three:

Treat yourself to breakfast today at The Flipside Café, which specializes in local, fresh ingredients with a creative twist.

Head toward the south side of Rock Hill and within five minutes you're pulling into the tucked-away parking lot of Waterford Golf Club, with its views of dense hardwood forests and rolling terrain.

Waterford is the handiwork of PGA Tour star-turned-architect Hale Irwin, winner of three US Open titles and a superstar of senior golf on the Champions Tour. Irwin's design twists and turns through the woodlands, up and down elevation changes and, most devilish of all, incorporates water from lakes and creeks on 16 of 18 holes.

If you're up for staying another day or would like an alternative, you're just 90 minutes away from Cheraw State Park Golf Course, named by Golf Digest as one of the best golf values in the US - the only SC course to earn that designation. Built by Greenville-based architect Tom Jackson, Cheraw is an off-the-beaten-path gem, with no two fairways adjacent to each other and Lake Juniper in play on three holes.

The course is demanding but fair, with generous landing areas and gently sloped greens, and a wildlife enthusiast's dream, one of fewer than 30 Audubon International-certified golf courses in the state.

At 6,928 yards (5,408 forward tees), Cheraw is long enough to get your attention, especially its signature hole, the par-4 No. 13, which plays 492 yards from the tips and doglegs left before running downhill to a steeply sloped (back-to-front) green surrounded by water.

Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 360-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.