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Sorry we are a little late this month. A lot of traveling, including Pawleys Island, SC, and the Orlando area. Always good to get a jump on the golf season in the North by heading south for at least a few rounds of golf.
Playing to 13th at Pawleys Plantation, Pawleys Island, SC, from the former rice plantation dike, surrounded by marsh.
Marsh This Way
The following is an abbreviated list of some of my favorite marsh-surrounded communities. There are dozens more that I can recommend if you contact me.
Pawleys Plantation, Pawleys Island, SC
As I have noted many times before, this is the site of my family’s vacation home, chosen largely because my wife, children and I love the marsh. The back nine on Pawley’s Nicklaus course explodes out onto the marsh, and the par 3 13th and 17th holes play entirely over it from the old rice plantation dike. (Personal note: I have a lot for sale that looks down the 16th hole and out to a long view of the marsh and a longer view of the island itself. I am happy to provide a “reader” discount for anyone interested in building a beautiful home in a beautiful community.)
Dataw Island, St. Helena, SC
The couple-mile drive into the community says it all; lined with old live oak trees and marsh on both sides, it is a perfect introduction to a golf community that features all the key elements of Low Country living. With 36 holes of golf by Tom Fazio and the underrated Arthur Hills, and an involved and dedicated group of residents, the mature Dataw features the added benefit of some of the most reasonably priced real estate in any multi-course community on the coast, with the most value-laden opportunities in the older houses. Bring some updating ideas and you are good to go.
Spring Island, Okatie, SC
If you did well in your career and are looking forward to treating yourself to one of the most beautiful and private golf communities in the Carolinas, Spring Island could be your place. The golf course, by the Arnold Palmer design shop, was masterfully renovated by Palmer architect Brandon Johnbson, a few years ago, making an already great layout even better. The surrounding marshland will turn even a marsh skeptic into a fan, and although you will think you are miles from anywhere, the 20-minute trip to the charming old Southern town of Beaufort only adds to the experience.
The Landings, Savannah, GA
Beach lovers need not apply, unless you bring a boat for the 10-minute trip to an island beach across the [body of water name] (or make friends with a fellow resident who owns a boat). Although The Landings is about as coastal as you can get, and Tybee Island and its beach are about 15 miles as the crow flies, the drive is a good 45 minutes. But there is no good reason to leave The Landings given its six exquisitely conditioned courses, more than 100 social clubs and proximity to the charming city of Savannah, less than 20 minutes away.
Wachesaw Plantation, Murrells Inlet, SC
Tom Fazio did a lot of work during the 1980s, and Wachesaw sports a layout that shows him clearly trying to make an impact in the earlier half of his career, with huge and dramatically placed fairway bunkers that, in his later oeuvre, would give way to the Fazio signature cloverleaf shapes. Wachesaw Plantation is located just west of Highway 17, a position that has denied it some of the love shown for the golf communities just a mile closer to the ocean. Yet, the community is less than 10 minutes from one of the most beautiful beaches on the east coast at Huntington Beach State Park, and even closer to a wide array of shopping, restaurants and the beautiful displays of sculptures and flora at Brookgreen Gardens. Couples looking for a bargain in golf community living should look seriously at Wachesaw.
I could go on, since there are dozens of golf communities in the Southeast that fit the definition of “marsh oriented,” but I will stop here and say that if you would like more information or would like to visit any of these and other Low Country communities, contact me and we can discuss which ones pass the smell test for you.
If you are considering a search for a permanent or vacation home in a golf-oriented area, please contact me for a free, no-obligation consultation at email@example.com
Marsh Madness: Yes, it can smell funny, but you can’t beat the views
The marshlands of the Low Country of the Carolinas and Georgia are an acquired taste—and smell. I acquired the taste 50 years ago when I made my first visit to play golf in the Myrtle Beach, SC, area. Back then, a full week of golf, 36 holes a day, lodging on the beach with an ocean view from the hotel room, breakfast every morning, beer and an oyster roast in the afternoon and a total price of $99 made me numb to any of the few imperfections in the week (e.g. the hotel desk gave us a key to a room that turned out to be occupied by a couple having a romantic moment when we opened the door). Awkward...to say the least.
Enjoy the view; don’t eat the oysters
I did, at certain times that week, smell something funny during low tide on the layouts we played. Low tide is when the plough (pronounced pluff) mud that lies underneath tidal waters half the day is exposed as the waters recede. Poking up through the mud are oyster shells whose meat you would not dare eat, since it is cooked and recooked whenever the tide recedes, the sun is shining and temperatures are above 70. They and the other formerly living matter embedded in the mud take on an odor not unlike that of fresh fish markets which, for all but the most intolerant, is nothing at which to turn up your nose.
A long view out to the marsh from the back of a lot for sale on the dogleg left 16th hole at Pawleys Plantation, Pawleys Island, SC. If interested, please contact me.
Yet, over the years, when discussing the kinds of views my clients would like from their golf homes, some have said "No thank you" to a marsh view or even a community with adjacent marshland. There is a perception out there, even among folks who have never laid eyes on Low Country marsh, that it is yucky in looks and smells. I won’t argue the smell part; some people don’t like anything that smells fishy. But I must defend the aesthetics of marshland. At its muddiest, it reveals a tidal laboratory of tiny crabs skittering across the mud that attract the snowy egrets and other waterfowl that serve as the beautiful mascots of the Low Country and turn up in dozens of country club logos from Virginia to Key West. The clusters of those overcooked oysters that pop out of the mud are reminiscent of the rock outcroppings that dot the landscape of Carolina golf courses, like Governors Club in Chapel Hill, only much smaller. They are also reminders that, just down the road in most Low Country locations, lie restaurants where crustaceans rule.
Ch, ch, ch, changes…all day long
The marsh changes its look every few hours, at one point appearing like a large lake with reeds sticking up through the water, swaying in the ubiquitous coastal winds, and less than half a day later, like a muddy plain that, in some places, you might dare to walk upon, and collect mishit golf balls and other trophies of the tidal marsh. (Some residents wisely take their walks along the marsh holes carrying a ball retriever, because it is not just oyster clusters that emerge from beneath the brackish waters at low tide.) I recall a stay in a cottage in the marsh on Hilton Head where, when the tides went out, the little marsh deer came in, as interested as any egret in what lay in the mud. But as big a kick as it is to see the marsh change semi-daily, the changes from season to season are the stuff of art; and, indeed, the art galleries throughout the Low Country feature countless colorful interpretation of the area’s marshes in different seasons—from the verdant green of spring and summer, to the amber waves of heather in fall, to the straw colors of winter.
There is nothing fishy about a view of the marsh, and many golf community homes that face it are priced as if they are less dramatic wooded lots. I’ve noted a few of my favorite marsh-surrounded communities in the attached sidebar. Let me know if you would like a closer look (or smell), and we can arrange it.
Richmond Not On Your Radar? It Should Be
After multiple visits to Richmond, VA, it still surprises me that no one ever asks me about the many golf communities there. Richmond is a modern city with just about everything a retired couple would want in the way of services, including outstanding healthcare, good transportation options (AMTRAK train station and regional airport), a wide choice of fine restaurants, a major university (U of Richmond), museums and lots of history.
The private golf communities in the Richmond area, more than a dozen in number, run the gamut, from the ultra-private Country Club of Virginia to the more reasonably priced and welcoming Hermitage and Foundry Country Clubs to a wide range of publicly accessible courses. All told, I count more than 30 golf courses within 45 minutes of Richmond, many of them in housing developments or adjacent to them.
Among the area golf communities I have visited and whose courses I have played are the Federal Club, Dominion Club and the outstanding Kinloch. Richmond is worth a look to active retirees looking for golf and an urban experience rolled into one. Contact me if you would like to plan a visit and connect with one of our real estate professionals in the area.
Larry Gavrich Founder & Editor Home On The Course, LLC