Designed by prolific course architect Willard Byrd, Timberlake Country Club's 18-hole course plots a 6,579-yard trail across a Lake Murray peninsula as it dips southward into the glassy waters. Picturesque views of the lake abound throughout the round—because of its proximity to the lake, the club offers free docking and shore-side pickup for those who wish to arrive by boat or seahorse—and the supersized pool's watery fingers come into play on seven holes. Rounds culminate with dramatic flair at the signature 18th hole, a 483-yard par 5 where a mid-fairway water hazard looms on the business end of a blind tee shot, raising the stakes for players who unsheathe their driver in the hopes of reaching the green in two.
Alongside the grassy course, neon yellow orbs slice through the air at Timberlake Country Club's tennis courts, where tennis pro Mark Gardiner teaches students to hit a forehand passing shot or incite an earthquake with a deafening grunt. The club also houses diverse dining facilities to curb appetites or host social events.
Spring Bank Equestrian Center is an equine playland equipped with pristine facilities including a 17-stall barn, a jumping ring, and a lighted, covered arena. Throughout the year, head trainer Cynthia Cooke uses her well-appointed stomping grounds for instructing students on proper riding technique, a life calling that won her the East Coast Trainer of the Year award in 2010.
You slide into the starting position, gripping the rope. For a moment, your eyes wander, surveying the white sand beaches and clear waters that surround you. High on a mast above, a cable carrier hooks the other end of your rope—with a tug, you launch into the water. Without the hum of a boat's outboard motor, you're free to concentrate on the sound of your wakeboard cutting the water's surface as you prepare to lift out of the rippling waves and off the first jump.
This is the introduction wake-boarders and wake-skaters at Hexagon Wake Park receive when they set out on the flexible cable that winds through the Tucker Lake obstacle course at high speeds. In this controlled environment, instructors help riders of all ages master the particulars of extreme water sports, such as how to stand and when to give ducks the right of way. Beside the cable park, other visitors explore the open water aboard stand-up paddleboats and kayaks. Visitors can also explore beachside attractions such as water slides, rope swings, and inflatable climbing structures.
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In 40 years, Hinnant Family Vineyards has had time to grow 87 acres of muscadine grapes that have been turned into succulent wines, some as old as the vineyard itself. While the wines are the specialty, the team also opens its gate to visitors seeking to learn about winemaking, picnic on the wraparound porch, celebrate their weddings, or attend a summer music festival.
Tim Langdon and his wife, Renee, founded Camp Flintlock on a simple concept: people learn about history best if they live it. The Langdons know firsthand: they live on the property in an 18th-century-style log home that Tim and his friends built by hand. To immerse visitors in their colonial world, the Langdons host overnight camping trips where visitors can sleep in colonial-style tents, fire muskets, and string together Native American–inspired necklaces. At residential summer camps, guests even don colonial garb and participate in daily chores, such as splitting firewood and looking over their shoulder for the British. For those who just want a taste of colonial living, school field trips and day camps include activities like making beeswax candles and playing colonial games.
Nestled on sprawling, tree-lined terrain, Black Creek Hill Farms cultivates horse-human friendships with lessons for students of all experience levels and guided trail rides through local landscapes. The full-service stable is owned and operated by experienced horsewoman Brenda Jernigan, whose love of and dedication to horses has been evident since she was born with one in her hand.
Her experienced guides, both equestrians since childhood, spearhead expeditions into the pond-spotted wilderness, starting with basic equine etiquette for those who have never ridden a horse. They also conduct lessons at the homestead, tailoring each session to individual skill and comfort level and teaching fundamentals such as grooming and affixing saddles onto steeds or little brothers. Therapeutic rides can accommodate special needs, varying in length based on riders' attention spans, and summer camps enthrall kids with crafts, companions, and the nurturing presence of horses.