I learned today that, as a member of the South Carolina Golf Rating Panel, I now have the privilege of casting votes for nominees to the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame. Members of the Carolinas Golf Reporters Association have traditionally held that privilege but they have extended it to ratings panel members as well.
This year’s nominees are an impressive group, but it took me about 10 seconds to cast my (maximum) two votes from among Charles Fraser, Scott Hoch, Paul Simson, Mike Strantz, Leonard Thompson and Howard Ward. I picked Fraser and Strantz, although the others are all certainly worthy of the honor.
If anyone can claim to have “invented” the golf community, Charles Fraser is the man. He founded the Sea Pines Plantation community on Hilton Head and built the famed Harbour Town Links. In so doing, he established the formula for the modern, high-quality golf community.
The late Mike Strantz is a figure of some controversy among those who love to debate the fine points of golf architecture. Depending on what side of the debate you find yourself, Strantz, who died of cancer at the age of 50 in 2005, was either a whack job designer who created golf layouts on steroids, or he was a genius who saw way beyond the more traditional designers to create courses that are both challenging and unforgettable experiences. Ask anyone who has played Tobacco Road in the sandhills of North Carolina and they will recount a few distinct memories of their round. Look no further than public golf course rankings and you will find that Strantz’ Caledonia Golf & Fish Club south of Myrtle Beach is considered among the finest modern “classic” layouts.Fraser and Strantz are my choices for the two among the half dozen nominees who put their unforgettable stamp on the game of golf in the Carolinas. The results of the voting are expected to be announced sometime in June.