New owner has improvements planned for Legend Oaks Golf Club near Charleston, S.C.
SUMMERVILLE, S.C. — The drive to Legend Oaks Golf Club takes quite a while out of Charleston, down lonesome country roads kept cool and shady by overhanging oaks.
You're heading west, away from the lowest of the marshy Lowcountry on the coast, and you might notice a slight change in the terrain, a little rise and dip here and there.
The golf course benefits from the change in contours, though it could hardly be called hilly. Still, there's enough there to set it apart from coastal courses.
Legend has it that Legend Oaks was laid out by the club's original member, Granville "Sonny" Way, who owned the land upon which the club now sits. In the early 1970s, Way learned how to operate heavy equipment and built the course over a period of eight years, finally opening his work as Westoe Plantation Golf Club in 1978.
Way sold the course in the early '80s, and the course has had a checkered history ever since, its name being changed eventually to its current one.
Locals will tell you that the back nine was one of the calmest and most peaceful places in this part of the country, set so far back in the woods with nothing but the still swamp and its alligators.
They will also tell you that the conditioning of the course was often, during these years, miserable.
The course now has a new owner, Jim Chickarello, with plans to spruce up the layout.
"It's already a good track, but its potential is unbelievable," said Tim Keenan, the new teaching pro at the club.
The first improvements will likely be the bunkers and cart paths. The bunkers are worn down and could use a serious refurbishment, and years of the roots of the old oaks that decorate the course have pushed up great portions of the concrete cart paths. The new ownership is considering adding GPS in the carts.
One of the first things they should do is add a driving range; hitting into nets before a round isn't something most golfers enjoy. Officials said No. 10 may be converted into a range.
The layout does have potential. With help from architect Scott Pool, a protégé of Pete Dye, the Legend Oaks has evolved into a fun, relatively easy play. It's not quite 7,000 yards from the back tees with a benign slope rating of 124.
It does have some peccadilloes that can test you, though. Some of the looks you get from the tee box are angled, making several holes awkward tee shots, though most are to fairly ample fairways.
No. 1 is a good example, rated the toughest hole on the course. No. 7 is another hole with an interesting tee shot. The fairway starts to the left of the tee box and extends at an angle, so that your drive must carry the bunkers to reach it.
Legend Oaks Golf Club: The verdict
Sitting on the site of a former rice plantation, Legend Oaks Golf Club winds through a neighborhood, and there are indeed quite a few homes along the perimeter. The back nine is more pastoral and isolated, though they are adding homes at a rapid pace there, too. It's a traditional design in a parkland setting, with water in play on half the holes and medium-sized greens with decent undulation.
One of the reasons Shem Creek Inn is one of the more popular places to stay in the Charleston area is its location.
The inn overlooks the creek of the same name, but its street address - on Shrimpboat Lane - tells the real story.
Guests can watch the shrimp boats heading out to Charleston Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean every morning, while lounging around with a cup of still-steaming coffee on the pool deck.
Shem Creek Inn has 50 rooms, so guests get the sort of personalized service they may not find at larger hotels. Every room has a private balcony with great views of the creek and the surrounding marshes.
It's close enough to drive into the historic district of Charleston on a whim, or to the beaches of Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms. Other major tourist attractions are near - the largest Naval Museum in the country is minutes away, as is Fort Sumpter and Patriots Point.
July 5, 2007