Play some golf, learn some history at The Links Stono Ferry near Charleston, S.C.

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

HOLLYWOOD, S.C. - The Links at Stono Ferry isn't so much a day on the golf course as it is a history lesson.

Links at Stono Ferry golf course
The ferry at Stono Ferry pre-dates the Revolutionary war.
Links at Stono Ferry golf courseLinks at Stono Ferry golf course - back ninecharleston - stono ferry
If you go

Actually, the golf is pretty good, but more about that later. There are quite a few courses that lay claim to Civil War actions, but not that many that go all the way back to the Revolutionary War.

This is the sort of history you expect to find when golfing in Charleston, and you get it at Stono Ferry.

One bunker on the course was part of a Revolutionary War battlefield. If you're keeping score, the Americans won 153-149 in a thriller against the British, who wore their red road uniforms.

Part of the 13th hole is laid out where an old railroad line ran from Charleston to Savannah from the 1850s all the way up to the 1960s.

The coup de grace, however, is the actual ferry site itself, which predates the Revolutionary War. It was used by plantations to ferry their goods across the Stono River, and as a redoubt and battery site in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

On The Links at Stono Ferry's 12th hole, you'll find a cannon pointing at the old ferry landing.

If you're a history buff, all this will enhance the golf. If you aren't, just ignore everything your teachers tried to beat into your thick skull and enjoy what the golf course has to offer.

The Links at Stono Ferry is as different as night and day, as different as the patriots and their colonial rulers. The front nine is pleasant enough, but nothing to start a revolution over.

The back nine, however, opens up to the Stono River and the Intracoastal Waterway, and the holes become much more dramatic visually, even if, technically, the more difficult holes are on the front.

"We were starting to think we got screwed out of our green fee about halfway through the front," said Jim Griggs who plays golf in Florence, S.C., and was playing the course for the first time with his friend Brian Tully. "But, the back nine is worth it. I definitely enjoyed the back, with all the scenery and history."

It isn't that the front nine has nothing going for it. It has the more challenging holes and a picturesque horse ranch along No. 9.

But the course really picks up steam at No. 12, which heads toward the river. No. 13 is the prettiest hole on the course. It plays parallel to the water, and throws the toughest tee shot at you; if you manage to hit the fairway, you'll have a short iron in.

No. 14 is a par-3 featuring a tee box that juts out into the river. It's only 158 yards over marsh, but the wind here can turn this into a mystery.

No. 15 turns back inland. It's a risk/reward, dogleg right par-5 that can be easily reached in two if you can carry the tall trees at the corner; be aware that a large waste area sits just behind the trees.

The Links at Stono Ferry: The verdict

Green fees at Stono Ferry are in the $80 range, and people don't seem to mind paying that at this scenic historic course.

It's a course that's very manageable from the championship tee yardage of 6,701 yards (the back tees are only 6,198).

Ron Garl designed Stono Ferry, which was voted the 2003 Charleston area golf course of the year.

Charleston hotels

The King Charles Inn is one of those places that's a favorite with visiting golfers, even though it really isn't close to any of the area's courses.

Why? First of all, it's perfectly located downtown, at the start of Charleston's historic district, and within walking distance to about 40 restaurants, some of them the city's best. Golfers love good eats as much as they do wide fairways and soft greens.

Secondly, it's a value when compared to other, more expensive downtown hotels, and, third, the inn caters to golfers.

The hotel itself is rich in history, with the original building dating back to around 1830. Better yet, it was the preferred, weekly retreat of Edgar Allen Poe when he was a soldier stationed at Fort Moultrie.

The inn has 93 rooms and the Coral Terrace serves a nice breakfast buffet. It has a small outside pool with a sundeck. There is free parking and free wireless Internet access in the rooms.

The inn's upstairs was remodeled recently, and management plans to spend another $5.5 million renovating the parking garage, rooms and exterior.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.


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