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: * 18-hole, par-72 course * Length of 6,701 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 72.3 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 131 from the farthest tees * Five tee options * Scorecard
Instead of shying away from the dark, GloZone revels in it, inviting guests to dart through shadows during laser tag or putt their way through a nine-hole glow-in-the-dark miniature-golf course. In the murky depths of the laser-tag arena, players attempt to score points by tagging targets with a hand-held device to the added ambiance of music, blacklights and fog. Laser-tag is ideal for birthday parties, group outings, or fundraising events.
Black lights illuminate the nine-hole mini-golf course with its own unique sea theme, as golfers putt their balls over contoured surfaces allowing players a change to hone their skills on the mini-golf course. The facility also offers a lazer maze, where guests must avoid a dancing array of laser light trip-wires as if they were in a spy movie. Nearby, bumper cars invite adventure driving, and arcade games and air hockey entice guests to rack up high scores. In addition to its open-play times, GloZone hosts parties for kids celebrating the anniversary of their safe delivery via stork.
Nestled along the banks of Wagner Creek and the Wando River, Dunes West Golf & Country Club stretches across 6,871 yards of Carolina Lowcountry sculpted into an 18-hole layout designed by architect Arthur Hills. After traversing rolling terrain, quicksand bunkers, and oversize greens, golfers can conclude the par 72 layout at the 456-yard, par 4 18th hole, where Wagner Creek guards the entire left side of a shallow green that reveals the clubhouse's brick arches and second-story veranda just beyond the fringe. Golfers with slice-prone swings can make adjustments at the club’s driving range or schedule a lesson with one of the club’s PGA professionals, both more feasible than trying to control drives with telekinesis.
Course at a Glance: * Designed by Arthur Hills * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 6,781 yards from the farthest tees * Five tee options * Scorecard
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: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 6,942 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 72.9 from the back tees * Course slope of 137 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole * Scorecard
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.