In my latest design you see will a course that merges inspiration from two Seth Raynor gems, The Country Club of Charleston and Yeamans Hall Club. Both tracks laid out on low country terrain with a variety of open (CC of Charleston) and closed (Yeamans Hall Club) areas. I decided to combine the two to give the player a taste of both courses, not just by there design styles on certain holes, but to provide a dual atmosphere of playing holes on tree-lined and open ground. Many of the holes are inspired by the actual templates that are featured on both courses, some that will be obvious to those who follow Raynors work.
Charleston Hall is a championship standard golf course that plays to a par of 70 and measures over 7200 yards from the back tees. With this course being based on two low country courses, don’t expect much elevation change at all. Both Yeamans and Charleston are most certainly two of the flattest courses in the US and therefore rely on the template concept to make the layout interesting. The bunkers have rugged mounding to make them pop from the tee and fairways, which also adds an extra penal element to them as you can be blocked from hitting longer irons if you’re up against the face. Many of the green pads are “pushed up” and feature false fronts to reject weak approach shots from even having a putt. The greens have some severe slope to them with very few “safe areas” and play at lightening fast speeds as the course in general will play extremely firm and fast for the championship set up. The fairways are wide but not exactly generous as many bunkers line the outskirts or cut into the players line of play. There is also the fact that finding the wrong side of a fairway can present you with a much more challenging approach on some of the holes because the way many of the greens are angled and are guarded by the rugged mounds and false fronts. The best way to play the course is to keep the ball on the fairway as there is no semi rough here at Charleston Hall, you’ll need to keep giving yourself good lies off the tee to get the best shot in and to even reach some of the greens.
There are a good variety of tee sets and are to be used as follows…
Black – Masters Clubs
White – Players Clubs
Green – Beginners Clubs
Gold/Red – Alternate yardages for sim players
Hole 1 (Dragons Teeth) Par 4 – 421 yards: The opening hole brings strategy into the round right away as the player is given the choice to either thread the ball between the bunkers on the right and the trees on the left, or lay up short of the bunkers and have a longer approach in. The green is angled to the left which means that players need to play out to the right to have a better line in when approaching pins on the left hand side of the green, which are protected by the “dragons teeth.” There is also a back right plateau that plays as the longest pin from the tee and can be difficult to judge in high winds. A good opening hole that gets players thinking from the get go.
Hole 2 (Prize Dogleg) Par 4 – 477 yards: This hole drags to player into a fresh challenge off the tee by way of tempting them into biting off as much of the bunkered corner as they can chew. Playing close to the bunkers on the right not only gives you a distance and angular advantage, it also ensures that your ball will not run off the left side of the fairway into the heavy rough. The fairway slopes moderately from right to left which naturally guides balls down into the lower left side of the hole. The green is heavily built up and is equally as severe as the Redan green. Sloping heavily from back to front and featuring a prominent ridge that runs from the back down through center of the green, makes this a very difficult surface to putt on. I wouldn’t exactly call this a birdie hole.
Hole 3 (Short) Par 3 – 162 yards: This hole couldn’t have sat on a better piece of property for this type of template. Fitted in beautifully against the savannah backdrop, the player might feel a sense of ease since playing the previous hole as this short three feels more open and inviting off the tee. A classic short template here with a pronounced thumbprint in the center. You have to be very careful with back pins that play over the thumbprint as the green backs right up against the waters edge, anything long is wet. Three deep bunkers guard the left front and right hand side of the green and can really make for difficult up and downs for pins that may be obstructed by the thumbprint. A great test of short iron accuracy required to leave yourself with a reasonable birdie putt.
Hole 4 (Bottle) Par 4 – 452 yards: The fourth reintroduces some serious options from the tee that the player must think about in conjunction with the pin placements on the green. The Bottle idea gives you the option of taking on the narrow route down the fairway to leave you with a shorter approach and the optimal angle for pins tucked to the right hand side of the green. Playing to the right will give you better views of pins on the left but you will have extra yardage to cover. The green is heavily guarded by five bunkers all around and the green itself has some pretty tricky contouring that can be better used from different angles.
Hole 5 (Eden) Par 3 – 188 yards: Another early par three in the round that is timed quite nicely in varietal terms. This Eden hole has all the classic features including the heavily sloped back to front green, the hill bunker, strath bunker, cockelshell bunker and a trench at the back. A spine runs down from the back of the green almost splitting the green into two sections. This spine can also be a huge problem if you’re on the wrong side and need to putt over it. You’re better off trying to keep your ball below the hole as anything above is treacherous and can often result in putting the ball off the green surface.
Hole 6 (Punchbowl) Par 5 – 578 yards: The first par five on the course is a long one that plays back down towards the savannah only this time, the Punchbowl green is situated on the other side of the river. Reaching the green in two is a risky task that will take a well placed tee shot followed by a hard hit second to ensure that you carry the wide water hazard. A sea of bunkers cut into the fairway making your tee shot placement difficult, you will have to take on the tight gap on the right hand side to have any chance of reaching the green in two. The green has plenty of forgiveness for hitting the ball too deep into the green as the back section has a sizable backstop that feeds balls back down into the middle of the surface. A good birdie chance or possibly eagle as long as you strike the ball perfectly.
Hole 7 (Double Plateau) Par 4 – 386 yards: Making further use of the river the Double Plateau 7th hole asks players to tee off with trees down the right hand side and water on the left. This hole doglegs to the left and there is an option to carry the corner of the water which leaves you with a much shorter approach to the green. This can also work against you as playing a pitch shot into one of the small sections of either plateau can be a tricky task. There are bunkers on the outside of the fairway up by the dogleg and a cluster of small bunkers short of the green known as the “principals nose,” the green is also guarded by two bunkers on the right and water down the left and around the back. A short but technical hole with risk and reward elements.
Hole 8 (Knoll) Par 4 – 449 yards: The eighth tee sits on the other side of the river and plays to a fairway that runs over a mild valley. There is a penal bunker on the right that catches sliced drives and there is also a bunker a little further up on the left to catch out long pulls. Ideally you want to thread the ball through the two bunkers and leave yourself a clean shot to the perched up Knoll green. If you’ve found the fairway you’ll have slightly a downhill lie that plays to an uphill green, the green itself is large and falls off on all sides. There is a deep bunker short of the green that catches out players who are playing to the green from the rough or fairway bunkers. There is a long strip bunker that guards the fall off to the left whilst trenches are found if you miss long or right. The green is a mild turtle back with a false front. Decent birdie chance here as long as you find the fairway from the get go.
Hole 9 (Road) Par 4 – 488 yards: The ninth is a rendition of one of the most iconic holes in golf… the road hole at St Andrews. Playing at a similar length and giving the player a long bunker carry down the right hand side to cut the corner, this rendition is very faithful to the original. There are also two bunker down the left hand side of the fairway that slightly obscure the view to the green for those who elect to play safe and not take on the corner bunker. The green slightly sits up and is guardede by a deep pot bunker positioned left of center of the green, and there is also a long bunker at the back of the green that represents the road. This hole is a long slog that requires long iron precision on the approach. Birdies are much more likely with front of green pin locations.
Hole 10 (Narrows) Par 4 – 460 yards: This straight way par four is a good test of driving accuracy for those who want to progress further towards the green. This hole has some considerable length to tempt players to take on the narrow gap between the fairway bunkers. The green has a mild false front, back left plateau and a section to the right that is guarded all around by bunkering, so having a shorter club in really plays to your advantage. The back left plateau can be used to help bring ball in from left to right around the bunkers if you don’t fancy flying the ball directly over them. Generally a good birdie chance with fair winds and a straight drive.
Hole 11 (Biarritz) Par 3 – 240 Yards: The unmistakable Biarritz green offers long and short variety depending on the pin location for the day. The green slopes pretty heavily from left to right and has a 5ft deep chasm running entirely across the middle section that splits the green into two halves. The bunkers surrounding the green are deep and penal if you’re playing onto a down-slope, so be sure to hit the surface for any chance of birdie or a guarantee of par.
Hole 12 (Lions Mouth) Par 4 – 328 yards: Here we have the signature hole at Charleston Hall. The Lions Mouth is a short and often drivable par four (with low winds) that doglegs around the trees to the left. There are many fairway bunkers on the right that give players a choice of driving over them for a very short shot into the green or laying back for a full wedge shot in. With the nature of the green having a deep front bunker that eats into the surface, laying back is a good choice considering some of the tucked pins. The front left and right sections of the putting surface are split apart by the bunker, leaving two narrows areas for pins. The back right of the green is a punchbowl section whilst the back left falls away towards the water. There are lots of little nuances in the green contouring on this which makes for some seriously enjoyable putting experiences.
Hole 13 (Lido) Par 5 – 622 yards: The longest hole on the course is the 13th, which takes its inspiration from the long lost course Lido, which was built by Macdoanld and Raynor. The fourth at Lido was a long par five which had three separate fairways broken up by water. The 13th here at Charleston follows that principle by having the fairway split into three by two small streams that cut in from the river. These small water hazard can come into play for players who try to get the ball as close of possible to the green, a risk and reward option for long hit or favorable winds. Off the tee there are bunkers lining the fairway on the right and water all down the left, the water is in play down the left all the way up to the green. The green itself is slightly sat up and plays mostly front to back and right to left, feeding all shots down towards the water. This hole can be a simple birdie as long as you don’t get too greedy by taking on the stream up near the green.
Hole 14 (Leven) Par 4 – 413 yards: A classic template design here that rewards players with a clearer view of the green if you take on the fairway bunker on the left. You can always play it safe to the right but this will leave you with a longer shot in at a more awkward angle. The front right of the green is protected by two bunkers and high mounding which makes all approach shots the pins on the right, semi blind. The opening to the green is a raised plateau which makes playing into the green via the ground a difficult task, and be sure not to miss left as there is a pretty big run off that has been cut as fairway to catch out stray approach shots. A reasonable birdie chance as long as you avoid the fairway bunkers.
Hole 15 (Redan) Par 3 – 184 yards: One of the most famous par three designs in the world and certainly one of the most copied. The rendition of this hole on here is of a “Reverse Redan” style, meaning that the hole plays left to right instead of the opposite. This green is gigantic… plenty of playing surface that all slopes away from you and tilts to the right. Carrying the ball over the treacherous false front is a must if you want to hit the green as coming up short results in a lengthy but awkward pitch shot. There are two bunker on the left just over the kicker and finding these will result in you being sat well below the green playing onto a severe down slope. We also have the Redan bunker on the right that is clearly visible from the tee. This bunker sits 15 feet below the putting surface and can be inescapable if you’re up against the face with a plugged lie. A very difficult hole depending on pin placements, pins towards the bottom of the green are found to be the easiest of the bunch.
Hole 16 (Alps) Par 4 – 489 yards: Here is the starting line for a fairly tough finishing stretch of three mid to long par fours. This hole in particular plays long and also requires a clear carry to the green, as it is disconnected from the fairway by two bunkers and some steep mounding that hides the putting surface. The fairway is laid over terrain that makes it a hogs back which means, landing your ball on out of the center of the fairway will kick the ball either left or right depending on which way you go. Ideally you want to hit your ball dead center to prevent any bad kicks from putting you in the heavy rough which makes reaching the green in two very unlikely. The green is large to hold long approach shots and it slopes heavily from right to left. There is a back section to the green that sits higher than the front and has a mild spine cutting in from the rear. The back left section of the green is more of a plateau and requires good distance control to get the ball on there.
Hole 17 (Cape) Par 4 – 461 yards: This hole is longer than your usual Cape design, therefore, it presents a stern challenge for all players. The fairway doglegs to the left and has two mounded bunkers to the inside left that catches out any stray tee shots and a group of trees to the right hand side catch out the opposite. The green juts out to the right and is heavily guarded by bunkers at the front and right hand side, whilst the opening to the green is protected by a deep left hand trap. there is a raised plateau in the middle of the green that has some tricky pin locations and being as close to the green as possible from the tee is must if you want to stick your approach close.
Hole 18 (Maiden) Par 4 – 492 yards: The finishing hole is a bit of a brute and plays just under 500 yards as a par four. Down the fairway are two large mounds that split the fairway in half, horizontally but, they are generally out of play off the tee and only serve to make missed fairway shots harder. There are two bunkers short of the green which again serve to make approaching the green from the rough an arduous task. The green is a Maiden template and features contouring that resembles a sideways Biarritz with some extra putting surface at the front. Two bold plateaus sit up at the back left and right of the green whilst the front of the surface sits flat but with a steep false front that repels short shots. The left hand side has two deep bunkers guarding both levels of the green and on the right we see the dragons teeth making a reappearance. A very difficult finisher that doesn’t give away too many birdies at all, even a par can be challenge.