Inside South Carolina’s 47 state-registered parks, visitors explore secluded forest trails, sweeping cerulean lakes, roiling saltwater surfs crashing on white beaches, and streams and rivers overgrown with thick canopies of trees. The protected areas, many of which were assembled nearly a century ago by the Civilian Conservation Corps, encompass more than 80,000 acres and span turf from the rambling Blue Ridge Mountains to the sandy Atlantic-coast beaches. Abundant activities for guests include canoeing, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and accidentally startling long-forgotten lumberjacks wearing headphones.
Visitors experience colonial history up close at some parks, where registered historic homes, plantations, and landmark buildings stand preserved or in their natural state. These structures grant a glimpse into the lives of European settlers, Native Americans, and African Americans through building tours, archaeological collections, and live history demonstrations. Overnight camping is available at many parks, ranging from primitive campsites to cabins, villas, and tent sites that offer running water. Much like a scientist designing a soda-can-powered robot, park administrators follow a rigorous recycling program to ensure the preservation of the wilderness.
Trees draped in spanish moss catch the wind along the edges of the fairways at Shadowmoss Plantation Golf Club, where designer Russell Breeden sculpted a 6,701-yard course into the verdant grounds of a former plantation. Throughout the par-72 layout, ponds and streams ripple on the borders of nearly every hole, often forcing golfers to choose from taking a conservative line, challenging the hazard with a big swing, or releasing their golf ball to a family of catfish. Breeden's artful use of waterways is most noticeable at the par-5 eighth hole, where a stream splits to cut across the center of the fairway and wraps two watery prongs around both sides of the hole to add pressure as golfers contemplate their approach to the green. Bermuda-grass fairways and greens await golf balls that steer clear of the course's water hazards and the various sand traps occasionally populated by disoriented sunbathers.
Before taking to the first tee, clubbers can warm up their swings and rehearse their putter-twirling routine at a practice complex that includes a driving range and a putting green. To keep golfers fresh during rounds, the club offers on-course beverage service and a full-service snack bar and lounge.
Course at a Glance:
A cannon sits on the top of a grassy mound, greeting golfers as they pass through the fairway. Though it has long been dormant, the cannon seems primed for ambush, nestled under the cover of live oak trees. The artillery is just one way The Links at Stono Ferry's golf course showcases its storied history; the acclaimed, 18-hole course once served as the riverside setting for the Battle of Stono Ferry during the Revolutionary War, an outpost for Confederate artillery during the Civil War, and a modern-day battleground for war-mongering sprinklers.
Running along a track of ancient oak trees and intracoastal waters, the course challenges golfers with a 6,814-yard layout designed by Ron Garl. The front nine meanders through Lowcountry pines and sprawling wasteland, while the back nine lets lonely golf carts hug the coast as they progress towards slick, Bermuda grass putting greens. The par-three 18th hole brings rounds to a dramatic conclusion, as golfers must fight through a sea of Redcoats in order land tee shots on a true island green.
Voted Golf Course of the Year by the Charleston Golf Course Owners Association in 2009, Dunes West Golf Club's scenic par 72 teems with 200-year-old oaks and bermuda-covered dunes in a diamond-shaped layout designed by Arthur Hills. Frank Moore, a PGA member with more than 20 years of teaching experience, uses close observation and video analysis in one-hour lessons to give each attendee a more confident swing and a more intimate understanding of life from a sand trap's perspective. In addition to 10 sessions of swing instruction, golf students can enjoy four rounds on the 6,871-yard course, stopping occasionally to admire the Dunes West clubhouse's classic southern architecture.
Designed by three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin, the course at Waterford Golf Club hugs the banks of the Catawba River, immersing players in a wooded landscape teeming with natural obstacles and omnipresent waterways. Golfers must manipulate the flight, angle, and lethargic attitude of their shots to avoid dense thickets of towering hardwoods that line Bermuda fairways and water that comes into play on 16 of 18 holes.
Players tee off from one of four sets of tees, each named after a world-famous course, and send shots skyward in pursuit of a final resting place on bentgrass greens. Pre- or post-round, players can hit range balls or piñatas filled with divot tools off of grass tees or hone short-game finesse at the club's practice facility.
Course at a Glance:
The golfing gurus at Edwin Watts Golf Academy diagnose and correct their students' poor swing and putting habits in an effort to help them improve their shots and lower their scores. In one-on-one swing-analysis sessions, students learn a repeatable swing that eliminates tendencies they may have to slice, hook, push, or pull the ball. A special laser attaches to the end of the player's club and tracks the swing path while JC Video swing-analysis software records the session from two separate angles, lest analysis be thrown off by only looking at the golfer's good side. Putting analysis employs Tomi technology to measure eight separate parameters of the putting stroke, from clubhead orientation at address to swing path and tempo. After swing and putting lessons, students may access the recordings on a password-protected website, so they can forward videos to friends or sports-documentary filmmakers.
Find reviews and articles on outdoor activities, attractions, things to do.