Tega Cay Golf Course
TEGA CAY, SC -- Trying to describe the layout at Tega Cay Golf Course is a bit like trying to describe chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream - you know that its damn good, but you just can't put your finger on what makes it great.
In the case of Tega Cay, maybe it's the rolling hills of the property that pose as fairways, or the walls of deciduous trees sporting more colors than the closing ceremony of the Olympics.
Then again, maybe it's the impeccable bent grass greens that are just a tad bit larger than a Honda Civic. Whatever the case, playing Tega Cay will leave plenty of impressions in your collective golfing conscious.
This early 1970's W.B. Lewis design feels like a mountain course, what with its changes in elevation and dramatic valleys. Yet the course is comfortably situated just 20 minutes south of Charlotte, North Carolina on the western edge of the Piedmont.
At 6313 yards from the blue tees, Tega Cay is not an especially long course. But with a slope rating of 133, the course is by no means a pushover either.
"The course does not cater to the long hitter," says head professional Dean Sigmon. "It places a premium on accuracy and will reward the straight hitter." Truer words were never spoken.
Tega Cay starts out on the Carolina Pines Nine, with a 494 yard, par-5 that presents little trouble and even dogs slightly to the right to accommodate the first hole "cut" tee shot. With an opportunity to pick up a stroke against par, or to avoid the proverbial par-4 double bogeyed first hole, Tega Cay's par-5 opening scene is a welcomed change.
Starting a course off in a player friendly fashion can endear your layout to many golfers, and foster more repeat play than a Victoria's Secret catalog. The second hole follows suit, offering up a slight dogleg left that is drivable for Dalyesque hitters from the blues, and long hitters from the whites.
Following the short par-4 second hole, Tega Cay gets right back after it with the par-5, 447 yard third hole. Reachable in two, it is conceivable that low handicappers could be three or even four under par before reaching the par-3, fourth hole.
But pars on the fourth and fifth holes are solid scores, as Tega Cay starts to assert a degree of equilibrium into what has otherwise been a very player friendly round. At 197 yards from the blues, the fourth hole is the second longest par-3 on the course as well as the No. 5 handicap hole.
At 397 yards, and straight as an arrow, the par-4 fifth hole shouldn't be a showstopper. But with a misjudged approach shot, the fifth can become a player's Achilles heel of the front nine.
A good tee shot will snowball down the sloping fairway, feeding into a narrow nape that leaves an approach shot straight up the hill to the green. Take too little club, or hit a fat shot, and the ball will not hesitate to roll all the way back down the hill - with the possibility of leaving you an instant replay opportunity to get on in three.
The front nine finishes strong, and includes one of the more interesting greens on the course in the par-3, sixth hole. Seemingly as flat as a table top, the sixth's green slides to the right quicker than the Back Street Boys. To take a shot at an ace on this hole, aim at the slope just left of the green and let the ball feed down towards the hole.
So many courses seem to come into their own on the back nine, and Tega Cay Golf Course is no exception. While the Carolina Pines Nine is challenging, with a number of well-crafted holes, the Cove Nine features some of the more interesting holes of the older nines.
If you are on your game, you can go low on the back. But the emphasis here is on accuracy - whether off the tee, or on the approach shots to medium to small sized greens. "The premium is on accuracy off the tee," adds head professional Dean Sigmon. "The long hitters ten to have some trouble on this course."
Despite playing nearly three hundred yards shorter than the front, the back nine plays nearly as tough as the front nine. Couple that will better scenery and superior routing and it's a slam dunk for the posterior.
Whether you're playing from the blues, whites, or forward tees, the Cove Nine will start you off gently with par-3 that ranges from 160 to 210 yards. Before the construction of the Grande View Nine, and the new driving range, this hole used to be a par-4.
The 12th hole is the first of four straight par-4's, all of which present birdie opportunities. At 426 yards, the 12th is the granddaddy of them all -the behemoth of the lineup. And while thirteen is a respectable 376 yards from the blues, fourteen and fifteen level off to 310 and 309 yards, respectively.
Ironically, while the average yardage of the "four four's" weighs in at a meager 352-yards, the average handicap rating amongst the holes is a respectable eight. The 12th hole alone is the second toughest on the course.
With a flare for the interesting, the back nine at Tega Cay finishes with back to back par-3's at No.'s 16 and 17, and the 482-yard, par-5 18th - reachable in two with a great three wood approach.
All in all, the Cove Nine is a solid complement to the Carolina Pines Nine. While it features some of the higher handicap holes on the course, the Cove Nine also features slightly better scenery and conditions.
Practice Fac.: B
Club House/Pro Shop: A
Pace of Play: A
Overall Rating: B-
TravelGolf.com Rating System
A - Tour Style - bring your camera
B - Solid Birdie Effort
C - Par---rty Time
D - Three Jack
F - Double Bogey
From Charlotte, take I-77 south to exit 88. Exit right on Gold Hill Road and continue west into the town of Tega Cay. The course is about 1.5 miles west of the town limit, on the left.