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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Food for Thought: Charleston Restaurants Good Reason to Live in Area

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        My wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with a weekend in Charleston a few days ago. We have been to the city dozens of time since buying our vacation condo in Pawleys Island, SC, 15 years ago. The trip, about 70 minutes, never gets old, and this time was no different.
        Charleston is foodie heaven. With just minimal research on the Internet, visitors to The Holy City can assure themselves of a great meal, and sometimes an extraordinary one. We've had dishes at the local restaurants that made our mouths water just from the menu description. This past weekend, we ordered doughnut holes drizzled with a peach and bacon sauce that could not have paired better with the rich, New Orleans style coffee at High Cotton on East Bay Street. The rest of the brunch was almost as good. The night before, at a place called Blossom,

The weekend's restaurant dishes made our mouths water before we ordered them.  They included pork belly in a sorghum and bacon glaze and doughnut holes with a peach bacon drizzle.

also on East Bay, I could have stopped after my appetizer of pork belly in a sorghum and bacon glaze, that's how rich it was, but I had already ordered the duck breast and confit duck leg and muddled my way through (the duck was cooked perfectly, but the fat could have been rendered more). On a previous visit to the city earlier this year, three of us passed around a bowl of chicken skins at Husk, perhaps the hottest restaurant in town for the last two years; yes, it was a cholesterol bomb, and I may wait a year until trying it again, but those skins were unforgettable.
        In short, Charleston's restaurants are a reason for any golfing couple with even a passing interest in dining out to seriously consider a golf home in the area. There are some nice choices in golf communities, starting with the Mt. Pleasant area just four miles over the Ravenel Bridge from the city. Rivertowne Country Club and its surrounding community were once owned by Bobby Ginn's organization which went up in smoke, spectacularly, after overspending on clubhouses and other amenities, causing many ruined investments, including one for Ginn's banker, Credit Suisse, which lost nearly ¾ of a million dollars in backing Ginn's many ventures. That said, Ginn always did everything to splendid excess, and the 18 holes at Rivertowne, designed by Arnold Palmer's firm, are challenging, beautifully conditioned and with some nice views along the Wando River. Homes in the community start in the high $300s.
        Just a few miles up Highway 17 from Rivertowne is Snee Farm, a much more traditional neighborhood and golf club built on the site of a
George Cobb, who designed Snee Farm, is also responsible for the par 3 course at Augusta National.

200 year old plantation. The golf course is the handiwork of the late George Cobb, the well-respected architect who also has the par 3 course at Augusta National, Quail Hollow in Charlotte and Bald Head Island to his credit, plus dozens of others. Snee Farm Golf Club's owner bought Rivertowne a few years ago and has created a reciprocal arrangement; join one and you play both. Even better, Rivertowne and Snee are run by ClubCorp, which manages 200 golf courses nationwide; membership in Snee Farm confers some sweet deals to play many of the other ClubCorp courses. Many of the homes in Snee Farm are bargains, priced as low as the $100s, but waiting for some updating.             

        Other Mt. Pleasant golf community options include Dunes West, a large and family-oriented community surrounding an Arthur Hills 18 hole layout; and Charleston National, whose 18 hole layout threads through expansive marshland, some of which must be cleared on approach and tee shots. Both golf courses are open to the public but provide memberships. The best private club option in the area, for the serious golfer, is Bulls Bay in nearby Awendaw, one of the late Mike Strantz's more "normal" layouts. (He designed Tobacco Road in the North Carolina Pinehills; those who know Tobacco Road will know why we call Bulls Bay "normal.") But "normal" should not be taken to mean unexciting, as Bulls Bay is anything but tame. We love its wide fairways surrounded by sand and the misshapen greens that can provide some roller coaster putts. Bulls Bay ranks with Secession Golf Club in Beaufort among the best layouts in the Low Country.
        The golf is also terrific on Daniel Island. My wife and I try to make an annual pilgrimage to Daniel Island, a contained community only 20 minutes from Charleston and surrounded by open water and marshland. (Someday, rapid ferry service will be available from the island to Charleston, cutting

Daniel Island Club membership is not inexpensive, but the service and golf, including 36 holes by Rees Jones and Tom Fazio, are terrific.

the trip by more than half.) A Daniel Island Club membership is rather expensive -- about $75,000 when I checked a couple of years ago – but the benefits are substantial and include great country club services and two highly rated golf courses, one by Rees Jones and the other by Tom Fazio. Further, Daniel Island presents a wide range of homes, from Charleston-style (i.e. compact and close to one's neighbor) to sprawling estate homes, and virtually every type of home in between. Condo prices start in the $200s, with single-family homes from the $400s.
        Other golf communities in the area run the gamut from reasonably priced, like Coosaw Creek in North Charleston (golf course by Arthur Hills, homes start in the mid $200s) to Briar's Creek on Johns Island, where homes set back from the very private Rees Jones layout start at the $1 million mark. And there is always Kiawah and Seabrook Islands, about 40 minutes from the city, where golf is plentiful, the beaches are long and wide, and you can find a home to suit virtually every taste and pocketbook.
        For more information about golf communities in the Charleston area, or for some informal advice about visiting the city, please contact us.

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Larry Gavrich

This blog was conceived and is published by me, Larry Gavrich, a former corporate communications executive who founded HomeOnTheCourse, LLC, in 2005.  Our firm advises baby boomers and others seeking a lifestyle in which golf is a major component.  My wife Connie and I own a home in Connecticut (not on a golf course) and a condo at Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, on a Jack Nicklaus layout.  We began our search for our home on the course more than 15 years ago, and the challenges of the search inspired me to research golf communities and write objective reviews of them.

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