You can imagine the rat-a-tat-tat of snare drums and bullets as you play a round of golf at The Patriot Golf Course in Ninety-Six, SC, the center point of the Grand Harbor Golf & Yacht Club community on Lake Greenwood. Designer Davis Love III provides a history lesson along with challenging golf at one of America’s unique golf layouts.
A Revolutionary War battle known as the Siege of Ninety-Six was fought nearby, and visitors can spend the better part of a day learning all about it at a national park not 10 minutes from Grand Harbor. The 28-day attack by 550 Continental Army troops in the Spring of 1781 was designed to rid South Carolina of one of the last two British strongholds in the state (Charleston was the other), but the siege failed to dislodge Loyalists from the Star Fort in Ninety-Six. Despite the failure, the Americans forced the British from South Carolina later that year.
Players at The Patriot can claim an historic finish on the 18th hole, with the remains of the Star Fort ringing the green.
Love’s Revolutionary sculptures of crumbling embattlements at Star Fort form the backdrop for anyone fortunate to play the well-conditioned and imaginatively laid out Patriot course. The PGA Tour-tested designer produces some unusually tough courses, but if you choose your tee boxes wisely at The Patriot, your round will not feel like a forced march. Those who choose the blue tees at 6,523 yards (rating 71.6, slope 131) will face enough in-play bunkers and forced carries to make the round enough of a challenge, as some of the approaches to greens on the otherwise relatively flat lakeside course are modestly uphill. Mid-teens handicappers will find that the white tees, at 6,176 yards (rating 69.8, slope 127) will set the stage for a pleasurable round.
The pushed-up piece of property from which the 1st and 10th holes start at The Patriot and where the 9th and 18th finish seems like a veritable outdoor museum, including the main simulated ruins of the Star Fort and a tunneled cart path ringed in the same bricks that form the fractured embattlements. You could be forgiven for feeling like an historical tourist as you approach the first tee, but once you are a few holes into your round, the education is forgotten as the layout demands attention of another kind. Between protective bunkers and false fronts, few greens at Patriot provide easy bump and run opportunities. And although the fairways are generously wide, and fairway bunkers tend to favor one side or the other (rather than pinching in), they are well in range and a reminder that Love, for all his own length off the tee, suggests a tighter grip on your thinking than on your golf clubs. The Patriot puts a special premium on positioning.
Designer Love confronts the player with water and sand hazards, as well as false-front greens, sometimes all on one shot, as at the par 3 4th at The Patriot.
Grand Harbor is a modest-sized golf community about 15 minutes from the town of Greenwood, population 23,000, which offers all the convenient necessities of life, and then some. (Note: I’ve had two nice meals over the last three years at Pascals, owned by a French chef; the pork osso buco was especially good.) Grand Harbor barely survived the recession but is now under the ownership of Challenge Golf, an experienced developer with a dozen communities in its portfolio, most in Texas, but with a desire to expand its holdings east of the Mississippi while the golf club market is still depressed. About the time it bought Grand Harbor, Challenge also added Balsam Mountain Preserve, a mountaintop community in western North Carolina with a dramatic Arnold Palmer design golf course that had been through a couple of owners previously.
Golf property prices in Grand Harbor reflect its 80-minute distance from Greenville, one of our favorite southern cities, and seem more than reasonable given the presence and views of Lake Greenwood. Home sites on the golf course begin as low as the $30s, some with additional views of the Star Fort ruins. Combination golf and water view lots start as low as the $40s. Home sites that abut the lake, with docks in place, begin in the low $100s. Low-maintenance townhomes along the 18th fairway, up to 2,800 square feet, are priced below $400,000. Single-family resale homes start in the high $200s.
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The 9th at The Patriot is a terrific risk/reward mid sized par 4, 392 yards from the blue tees, that presents a risky, all-water carry appropach for those who play safe, and a rewarding over-land approach for those who hit a thread-the-needle fade off the tee.