Destination Golf - September 2016 * - Page 53

exciting. Near Pinehurst, North Carolina, in the town of West End, lies an unpretentious course that was intended to be a private reserve, exclusive to its membership. Things turned out differently, and Dormie Club is a public-access course of the highest caliber. One of the primary elements of a track designed by Coore and Crenshaw is the opportunity to play high and low shots into the same target. Whether you’re a hitand-spin or a bump-and-bound golfer, you’ve an equal opportunity to finish near your intended point. Dormie is the type of course that begs the golfer to visualize shots played along the fairway, against the mounds and swales that trace its fairways and greens. It’s a course where balls seem to run forever, but unless you’ve properly assessed the influence of the slopes and slants of the ground, they might not always run where you expect them to. What is unique about Dormie is its ability to play like a links that you might find along a Scottish or Irish (or Oregon) coast, despite being situated amid pine trees, in the sand hills of North Carolina. The architectural team makes frequent use of a lost feature: the centerline fairway bunker. There’s always room short, long, left and right, but its positioning forces the golfer to consider the best strategic option. When faced with completely broken ground, or the need for a transition, the architects uncovered a marvelous, par-three hole. From the long 7th to the medium 9th to the short 12th, the one-shot holes are brilliant and functional, a rare and proper combination. SOUTH CAROLINA (LINKS AT STONO FERRY) There are pockets of golf courses across the USA, none more celebrated than the Grand Strand, aka Myrtle Beach. The Strand extends from the Calabash section up north to Pawley’s Island in the south. Keep traveling south and you’ll eventually hit Charleston, which is where you find the Links at Stono Ferry. Charleston has wonderful private clubs (Bull’s Bay, Yeaman’s Hall, Country Club of Charleston) and nearby are Kiawah Island and Wild Dunes, two higher-end resorts. For the golf traveler on a budget, without private-club connections, there are additional options that offer a fine, low-country golf experience without emptying the purse or wallet. The Links at Stono Ferry is located about twenty minutes west of Charleston, along the Stono River. The course winds its way amid tall trees for the majority of its eighteen holes. A few fairways peek out into a windswept meadow, a tip of the cap to the origins of golf and the open spaces of a linksland. Designed by Ron Garl, whose principal works are found in Florida, the Stono Ferry 18 reaches an apex of sorts with the triumvirate of holes that play along the river. The 12th hole, an intricate and challenging par four, moves downhill, toward the river. The thirteenth, a short and seductive par four, plays along the water’s edge and dares the golfer to overreach his skill level. The fourteenth concludes the trio of waterside holes in dramatic fashion. A brief but deadly par three, the tee and green are sited on opposite sides of a wee inlet. The hole is all carry and asks only the straightest and best a golfer can offer. Alongside the right side of the 12th fairway are the remains of a Revolutionary War fortress, dating from 1779 and the battle of Stono Ferry. As told by the club’s website, A part of the battle took place where the 12th, 13th, and 14th holes are presently located. One of the military fortifications (redoubt) from the battle was relocated during the construction of the course to the right side of the 12th fairway. The commanding officer for the British and Hessian forces was General Maitland, while General Moultrie led the American Patriots. The British and Hessian forces suffered 129 casualties, while the Americans suffered 153 dead or wounded. One of the American casualties was Hugh Jackson, the older brother of President Andrew Jackson. The course concludes with a return to the tree-lined fairways that opened the course. Stono Ferry is susceptible to bogging-down after an extremely heavy rain; unless that has been the case, expect a somewhat-firm and enticing set of fairways and greens on which to spend an afternoon. Volume 3 • Issue 35 53