Persimmon Hill Golf Club: Plenty of Challenges in Saluda
SALUDA, SC - You may have to look off the beaten path to find Persimmon Hill Golf Club, but you'll be glad you did. A gem of a course, whose affordability matches its playability, this Russell Breeden design has something for every golfer.
If it's length you want, it sports the longest golf hole in South Carolina, and two par threes measuring 230- and 240-yards, respectively. If you're into aquatics, it has water to contend with on five holes. Into sand? Then the large, person-engulfing bunkers, which protect the approach to the spacious, undulating greens are for you.
Keep all the clubs in your bag, chances are you'll get an opportunity to use each one. That, according to club professional Mo Mullinax, is one of the courses charms. When asked what are some of the other unique features, he replied, "it's a fair golf course, not real tight and it has big greens." He was correct on each count.
Persimmon plays 6,925 yards from the blue tees, 6,405 yards from the whites, 5,865 yards from the golds, and 5,449 yards from the ladies tees. It's rated 72.3 from the blues, 70.2 from the whites and 70.5 from the women's tees. The large, rolling, sloped greens are Bermuda grass overseeded with Poa Trivialis during the winter months. The fairways and tees are Bermuda grass overseeded with rye grass during the winter.
The dogleg right, 525-yard (500 yards from the whites) first hole provides a nice introduction to the course. The downhill par-5 has bunkers on the left and right at the bend to catch the slightly errant drive. The large, left-to-right sloping green is protected in front by two prominent bunkers.
On the second hole, I was joined by club members Rodger and Charisse Thompson. Low handicappers, they imparted their local knowledge of the course as we played. One thing I noticed them doing was putting out of the greenside bunkers.
The bunkers throughout the course were both large and sloped from front to back, creating a contiguous surface to the lip. When queried about their interesting technique, they pointed out that the sand in the bunkers was thin, which made it hard to get a sand wedge under the ball.
The par four, 405-yard fourth hole began my interaction with water on the course. A ten-acre lake separates the blue and white tees from the fairway, then follows the fairway on the right to the green.
A solid drive with a slight fade will enhance your chances to reach the green in regulation. The second shot follows an upward slope to the rolling green. Two large bunkers occupy the left and right side of the green, but do not restrict front access.
The 500-yard, par five eighth hole is the courses signature hole. Unable to see the green from the tee on this dogleg left, local knowledge was helpful. The tee shot climbs a hill, the best shots perching atop the knoll looking down on the picturesque green. A lake occupies the front of the green, and huge bunkers ring the remainder, making a go at it in two, dicey at best.
According to the Thompsons, many people try to make the green in two shots only to wish they had laid up in three at waters edge. There is a reason why this is the number two handicap hole.
The course has hosted numerous tournaments including the U.S. Senior Open qualifying last year; amateur qualifying tournaments, and collegiate tournaments every year. Opened in 1962, the course is a mix of level ground with gently rolling hills. Tall pine trees line each fairway, providing the genteel southern feel that can be so deceiving.
Number ten, a 405-yard (345 yards from the whites), par four begins the back nine. Sloping down from the tee, the straight fairway ducks into the tall pines creating a sense of calm, belying the action to come. The small green is fronted by two large bunkers with two more around the rear, requiring an accurate and airborne second shot.
The par five, 520-yard eleventh hole is the third hardest on the course. Like number eight, it necessitates a decision to lay up or go for the green in two over water. This green is closer to the water than number eight, and slopes downward towards the lake. A hill rises behind the green making a chip of a long second or third shot precarious at best.
Number twelve is a par four, 460-yard narrow dogleg left. It is the number one handicap hole from the back tees, and is protected on the right by pines as the fairway slopes from left to right. Find yourself beyond the fairway and narrow rough, and like several other holes at Persimmon, you're hitting off hardpan, making accuracy ever more important.
Fifteen is a fun hole. Two hundred thirty yards from the tips, the small lake between tee and green is more a psychological challenge than real test of skill. Ringed by four huge bunkers, anything off the green entails a delicate yet lofty chip onto the rising and falling, front sloping putting surface.
The final hole is one of Persimmons' claims to fame: the longest golf hole in South Carolina, a 630-yard, par-5 behemoth. Even after a great drive and a solid second shot, you can be eyeing a flag that is still 180-yards away. A par here will make your day, regardless of how well you played the remainder of the course.
Persimmon Hill is somewhat isolated, but don't fret; for refreshment at the end of your day, the clubhouse sports a dining room and full bar.
The club has a fully supplied pro shop and practice facility, both of which are open seven days per week, 12 months per year from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Expect to pay (greens fee, cart & tax):
Monday - Thursday: $25.00
Saturday - Sunday & holidays: $35.00
Persimmon Hill Golf Club
SC Route 121
From Aiken: follow SC 19 to the SC 19/191 intersection. Take SC 191 to Johnston and turn right on SC 121. Persimmon Hill is several miles from Johnston on the right.
From Columbia: follow US 378 to Saluda, turn left on SC 121 for 5 miles; club is on your left.