Nearby courses to play through during the Masters
THOROUGHBRED COUNTRY SOUTH CAROLINA—MARCH 2021—Every second week in April, in a reverent homage to their sport and a certain televised tournament, avid golfers make reservations far ahead to play the courses near Augusta National. For them, watching the game isn’t enough, and many prefer the golf in nearby Thoroughbred Country South Carolina where several courses boast their own pedigree and prestige. Situated along I-20 between Atlanta and Charleston, just east of Augusta, Georgia, the rolling topography and mild climate make for fun, challenging and year-round play. In the late 19th century as the railroads pushed farther south, Aiken became the home of the famed Winter Colony where Vanderbilts, Astors and other Golden Age notables vacationed in elegant resorts and “cottages.” Golf, croquet, polo and other equestrian pursuits became pastimes still treasured today.
Here are notes on some of the courses favored by locals, pros and duffers. Some have regular greens fees while others are offering exclusive amenities, food and beverage packages during the week-long event (with commensurate pricing). Check the clubs’ websites for details and availability. While tee times are much easier to obtain than badges for the hallowed course, they do book quickly. Whether during golf’s greatest tournament or any other time of year, Thoroughbred Country is top of mind for golfers and their families who are looking for plenty of additional attractions.
The Aiken Golf Club
555 Highland Park Drive, Aiken, South Carolina; 803-649-6029. 18 holes. Par 70. Designed by Donald Ross. Walk/cart. Reservations required.
Originally built in 1912, this historic course has many ties to golf’s greats, including early ladies’ professionals. Extensive renovation has led to accolades: it’s rated in the top three courses to play during Masters Week by Golf Channel’s Morning Drive, one of the best courses to play near Augusta National by Golfweek; and “Best Kept Secret” and “Most Charming” by other critics. Just 20 miles east of Augusta National, this course tips its hat to Pinehurst as well as Scottish tradition. Fees are elevated during the championship, but it’s still considered a deal.
The River Golf Club
307 Riverside Boulevard, North Augusta, South Caroline; 803-202-0110. 18 holes. Par 71. Designed by Jim Fazio. Bent grass greens. Cart.
Built as a Hilton Head-style links course with mostly flat fairways and water on 11 holes.
Mount Vintage Golf Club
375 Mount Vintage Plantation Drive, North Augusta, South Carolina; 803-279-5422. Offering exclusive package pricing for Masters Week, including food/beverage and more. 27 holes. Par 72. Designed by Tom Jackson.
Midland Valley Country Club
151 Midland Drive, Graniteville, South Carolina; 803-663-7332. 18 holes. Par 71. Designed by Ellis Maples. Bermuda greens. Walk/cart.
Large, undulated greens are the main feature of this design.
Sweetwater Country Club
571 Clubhouse Lane, Barnwell, South Carlina; 803-259-5004. 18 holes. Par 71. Designed by Russell Breeden. Bermuda greens.
This design is relatively benign in terms of elevation and length, but more than makes up for that with its water, sand and elevated greens. Walk/cart.
Bamberg Golf and Sports Club
128 Paw Paw Road, Bamberg, South Carolina; 803-956-0144. 18 holes. Par 72. Designed by Russell Breeden. Bermuda greens. Walk/cart. This design uses tight fairways and 84 bunkers plus water on seven holes on the back nine to demand accuracy off the tee.
The Inn at Houndslake/Country Club
897 Houndslake Drive, Aiken, South Carolina; 803-648-9535. 27 holes. Par 36 for each 9.
This course was designed to offer versatility for both weekend golfers and professionals and hosts many tournaments. A pet-friendly, unique 30-room lodge is located on the grounds. Guests may use any of the Club’s facilities.
For those who favor nine-hole courses, here are three:
Williston Country Club 15 Fairway Drive, Williston, South Carolina; 803-266-7616.
9 holes. Par 36. Bermuda greens. Walk/cart.
Crestwood Golf Club
6505 Carolina Highway, Denmark, South Carolina; 803-383-0201
9 holes. Par 36. Driving range and practice putting green. Tuesday-Sunday.
Fairdale Country Club
3312 Barton Road, Fairfax, South Carolina; 803-584-7117. 9 holes. Par 72. Established in 1954. Designed by Walker Smith. Bermuda greens. Walk/cart.
For a fun, family event, South on Whiskey Mini Golf brings on a quirky challenge, along with batting cages and an event space for rental. 3197 Whiskey Road, Aiken, South Carolina; 803-643-1715. Wed-Sun.
If you go
Thoroughbred Country meanders through charming small towns with unique shopping, history and delicious Southern cuisine, creating the perfect road trip getaway with plenty to do for equestrian and active outdoor enthusiasts. Multiple disc golf locations throughout the region provide ample opportunity to try the sport from a slightly different angle. Take time to meander North Augusta’s 9.2-mile Greeneway Trail. Don’t miss the hidden gems: a drive-in movie theater, the Aiken County Historical Museum, the Savannah River Site Museum, Hopelands Gardens and the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum. Explore the city via the Aiken Trolley Tour or, if it is not a Saturday, contact Tailored Tours of Aiken. Nearby, the Silver Bluff Audubon Center & Sanctuary offers opportunities to engage with nature up-close while Blackville’s God’s Acre Healing Springs is a popular site for visitors seeking out the storied waters. Visit the Veterans Memorial Trail in Bamberg and the Battle of Rivers Bridge State Historic Site in Ehrhardt to gain insight into the area’s history.
For details, delightful and unique accommodations, dining and more, go to www.TBredCountry.org