Seek and ye shall find. Even on Christmas Eve.
Last December, while with the family in South Carolina, I decided to slip away and walk 18 holes. My target was Clemson University's Walker Course. Unfortunately it was closed. I asked a man being walked by his dog if knew anything nearby. A non-golfer, he thought there was a course off Hwy. 76 in Pendleton. Said it had a funny name.
He was sure enough right. It has a name George Costanza would love -- Boscobel Golf Club. Turns out I love it too, and not just because I made my first-ever par-4 eagle by holing out on the ninth. I love the routing. It flows nicely along knolls and valleys. And, I love the slick bentgrass greens. They hint of Donald Ross architecture.
Boscobel's coziness is apparent when you enter the neighborhood and meander a street of well-kept houses, some with flower boxes. The club-house isn't grand; neither are prices. I walked 18 on Christmas Eve for less than $20, and recently played with my brother and his wife for a $25 twilight rate, cart included! (Bring cash - there's a small credit card fee).
If you wish to warm up, Hacker's Haven Driving Range is just across Hwy. 76. Not a hacker in search of a haven? I suggest a trip to the putting green to get acclimated to the quick greens.
Boscobel is quite pleasant, especially the front nine. It plays in and around a valley from different angles. The first hole's a reachable par-5 with a low-profile bunker in the fairway middle, about 50 yards from the green. The second (a short par-4) has a narrow opening at the tee and plays along a tree line to a green beside bamboo trees. The first two holes are indicative of the layout: par-5s are reachable, and par-4s are short and sometimes tight off the tee.
The third green has a great feel, tucked behind a pond with another on the left, leaving only a narrow walking strip between. A stream behind connects to the left pond, so the green is virtually surrounded. It's rewarding to land safely on the putting surface. And, if you're not riding a cart, just exit via a walking bridge to the next tee.
The par-3s begin at the fourth, which is long and uphill. Overall, there are five one-shotters. They pack punch, averaging 190 yards from the blue tees and 162 from the whites. The eighth hole rests in the valley's vortex with a green slightly into a pond. The ninth runs uphill, a par-4 on a washboard ribbon fairway similar to the links-land of Scotland. Did I mention I made an eagle here?
A gorgeous downhill par-3 opens the back. The green is carved into a cove. There's a pond in front, with two bunkers to catch your attention. Soon things open up. Holes 13 to 15 loop across an open, pastoral area completely different from the rest of the course ... a nice change of pace. It tightens up again at the 17th, another short par-4 out of a chute. With so many trees around the tee, artificial turf had to be installed on the box.
The par-5 18th is what I call a purgatory hole. It is not good. It is not bad. Somewhere in between.
Boscobel opened in 1932. The par-71 course, according to its website, was once touched up by long-time architect Russell Breeden of Virginia. That makes sense because the under-appreciated Breeden has a talent for traditional golf design, which is evident at Boscobel.