As golfers stand over teed-up golf balls, staring down the fairway of Indian Trail Golf Course’s 370-yard 14th hole—the course signature—they may be perplexed by its ranking as the round’s most difficult hole. Though the scorecard reads “short par 4,” the hole packs a good deal of hardship into its diminutive stature. Golfers must aim for the top of the fairway hill off the tee, while steering clear of the boulder on the right side and the large pond just beyond. Players are forgiven for going the conservative route with a long iron off the tee, as opposed to risking the driver or a retrofitted t-shirt cannon. If they leave themselves a decent lie on the approach, a two-tiered green awaits just over the water, making three-putts an all-too-common occurrence.
While not every hole features boulders, uphill fairways, and the ever-present threat of boogeyman attacks, the course is characterized by the ubiquitous threat of hazards. In all, nine ponds and more than 40 bunkers haunt players along the 6,272 yards of Bermuda-covered terrain, lending an air of hostility to the otherwise pristine surroundings.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 6,272 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 69.4 from the back tees * Course slope of 127 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole
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.
Charwood Country Club's three nine-hole courses wind through acres of thick forest, their manicured greens sticking out from the trees like polished emerald jewels. On any 18-hole combination, golfers will find plenty of challenges as they contend with sharp curves, sand traps, and roving gangs of golf carts. Speaking of carts, groups can claim one before heading out to save time and stamina on the course. Some of that extra time can be spent on a post-game detour to LC's Grille for breakfast or lunch.
Winding through a dense assemblage of mature hardwoods and vibrant carolina pines, Hidden Valley Golf Club's 18-hole course spans 6,757 yards of immaculate greenery. The rolling midlands terrain challenges golfers with testy sand traps, drive-impeding tree lines, and shape-shifting greens. Though the pristine par 72 takes the form of a relatively difficult layout when played from the tips, the course graciously sprouts four tee options to cater to players of all abilities. Groups hunt birdies and eagles from the comfort of a golf cart, which nimbly navigates the cart path, fueling itself by absorbing the life forces of discarded tees.
Course at a Glance:
At dawn, just as the sun breaks the horizon and the morning dew is still a fragrant glaze blanketing the freshly mown lawn, golfers find solace in the pinging sound of golf balls that soar across the beautifully landscaped terrain. The 18-hole course at Northwoods Golf Club is a welcoming oasis for golfers of all stripes, summoning players to traverse the immaculate grounds. The course was designed to emanate southern charm with rows of towering pine trees and the tranquil waters of Moores Pond, a prominent feature on multiple holes. Designed by P.B. Dye, son of famous course architect Pete Dye, the track stretches 6,800 yards for a par of 72. PGA professionals Greg McBride and Burke Cromer oversee the club's lessons, making use of the lighted driving range to help students improve their iron play and no-look reverse drives well after the sun goes down.
Course at a Glance:
Measuring 6,074 yards from the tips, the course at The Club at Rawls Creek doesn't demand extreme distance off of the tee to score well—but it will challenge golfers' short game and putting skills. Installed in 2006, the course's mini-verde Bermuda grass greens create an ultra-fast surface, requiring a touch more delicate than a headcover made from a pink feather boa. The layout also features numerous par-threes with elevated tees, where tee shots drop as much as 60 feet to reach the flagstick.
After their round draws to a close, golfers can refuel at the Creekside Grille. There, four flat-screen TVs broadcast the day's sporting events, and porch seating lets guests look out onto the grounds and discover constellations from the divots in the grass.
Course at a Glance: