I wound up on The Plantation Course on Edisto Island thanks to my wife of 37 years, Anna, who allowed me to accompany her to a beach house that was built about 50 years ago by the father of one of her friends from the University of South Carolina. Anna and her friend Pam, along with four other USC girlfriends, met annually at the Edisto house for decades to remember old times and catch up on one another's lives and families. Anna travelled from our home on Richmond, VA while the others enjoyed shorter trips, mostly from the Carolinas. The annual nature of the trips have ended as life has taken over for this group of women.
But Anna still covets her time at Edisto and convinced me to accompany her three of the last four years. (Hurricane Matthew caused a cancellation in 2016.) Edisto Island is on the SC coast, 48 miles south of Kiawah Island — just 17 miles as the crow flies over a lot of marshland — and 97 miles north of Hilton Head. I mention the direct distances from Edisto's more famous (and developed) neighbors because, although close in proximity, one must venture quite far off the beaten path to visit Edisto, approximately a 90-minute round trip detour from SC Highway 17, and a 2 ½ hour detour from I-95. If you go to Edisto, plan to stay a while. There are no bright lights, but many reasonably priced restaurants featuring local seafood and easy access to uncrowded beaches, as well as the Plantation Course at Edisto and a local driving range.
You can see the accompanying photographs of the honor system employed to collect fees from customers at the driving range, which is a mere five minutes from the golf course. Each bucket of balls is an eclectic mix of brands, colors and conditions, a bit like the box of chocolates that Tom Hanks mentioned in Forrest Gump. The driving range has a few yardage signs in the distance and a single palmetto tree about 180 yards out that makes an interesting target. The range is not affiliated with the Plantation Course, but more likely helps pay the taxes for the owners of this parcel of land.
I have played the front nine of the Plantation Course on three occasions over the last three years, each time taking a cart as a single in the mid- to late-afternoon. Although there is no driving range at the course, there are a couple of outdoor netted hitting bays to use for warm-up swings.
The course was in fantastic condition, and the turf grass was the same variety that is in play at the Ocean Course at Kiawah. The fairways were perfect and the greens incredibly receptive to approach shots. The greens were open in front but well bunkered at the sides, with some additional marsh areas and ponds lurking to collect errant shots. The putting surfaces were of moderate speed with some obvious undulations along with subtle breaks that I found difficult to navigate. That is an observation, not a criticism, the difficulty I had more about the contrast between these local conditions and the greens I regularly play in Richmond.
The Plantation course is relatively short at 5,501 yards from the tees that I chose. As you can see from the score card, it is a still-modest 6,096 yards from the tips. I played in the off-season (October) and pretty much had the course to myself. The 18-hole rate was $72 with cart, the same rate that applies on weekdays and weekends. Carts are not required, and I judged the course to be walkable with most tee boxes relatively close to the greens of the previous holes.
Information is available at ThePlantationCourseatEdisto.com
There are Wyndham Resort accommodations within the gated community where the golf course is located. It would be an excellent buddy trip destination for avid golfers if golf, seafood, and ocean views fill your dance card — although, as far as I can tell, there are no dancers. Some folks might prefer the after-hours attractions of Myrtle Beach; Edisto visitors should not plan to venture from the island daily since there's no place to go. With that said, it's only about an hour to Charleston – but very dark on the way back to Edisto.
Andy Litteral is a resident of Richmond, VA, where he and his wife Anna have lived since 1982. He recently retired from his faculty position, ended his service as Chair of the Management Department as well as Director of Assessment and Accreditation in the Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond. Andy is a member of the Salisbury Country Club in Richmond but is very much the itinerant golfer. He and the manager of this web site have shared a number of rounds at different courses in Virginia, including the famed Foundry Golf Club in Powhatan, Federal Club in Glen Allen, and Spring Creek in Zions Crossroads.