Clarendon County in South Carolina boasts one of the largest man-made lakes in the United States. Lake Marion was completed in 1941 as part of a national rural electrification initiative. Since the late 20th century, the dam’s generation of hydroelectric power has stimulated the economic development and industry in the region.
As you can imagine, fishing is popular in this part of the state. While the county is known for its championship-level catches of striped bass, Reader’s Digest magazine once rated Lake Marion as one of “America’s 100 Best” for fishing, specifically catfish. Recently, anglers from all over the country competed at the Bassmaster Elite Tournament.
Clarendon County sits tucked away between several well-known golf destinations and is home to some hidden gems. As a golfer, there are three courses in Clarendon County that you should know about.
Shannon Greens is the perfect golf course for those that are new to the game or are wanting to get in a good practice round. Experienced golfers will find that the greens are a little smaller which will test your accuracy. Several holes are short with hazards along the way, meaning you can’t hit your driver on every hole, so course management can become a challenge. Most of the greens are protected by bunkers, too. The 2nd hole is a challenging par 5 that plays 458 yards. It’s a dogleg left that doesn’t really turn until the end. Although short, getting there in two can be a challenge because of the stream that crosses in front of the green. Number 7 is the course’s signature hole and a little touch of TPC Sawgrass. It’s a 140-yard par 3 with an island green.
Nestled along the shores of Lake Marion you’ll find The Players Club at Wyboo. It’s probably the most player-friendly golf course in the area and is a tremendous reclamation story. The course originally opened in 1999 to rave reviews and a ton of play. Unfortunately, things were not always rosy and in 2015 the course closed. The Players Club is part of the Wyboo Plantation golf community and homeowners were horrified and afraid that without the course, their homes would lose a lot of value. In 2017, several residents and former members banded together and purchased the course back from the bank. After a lot of hard work by the owners and newly formed maintenance staff, The Players Club at Wyboo reopened and has been voted Best Golf Course in Clarendon County for the past 5 years by the Sumter Item newspaper.
The Players Club at Wyboo is currently semi-private, which is a unique way of saying it’s open to everyone. According to Head Golf Professional Taylor Smith, “It’s very player friendly, with large undulating greens and a lot of wooded terrain. There isn’t much sand or water on the course either, making it “maintenance-friendly!” Manicured fairways lead to smooth Tif-Eagle greens. What the course lacks in bunkers, it more than makes up for in rolling terrain and mounding, which can leave to the dreaded uneven lie.
Clarendon County saves the best for last. Wyboo Golf Club is an 18-hole layout designed by Tom Jackson. The club was recently awarded #16 of the 25 best courses in South Carolina by Golf Advisor. Several S.C. Amateur and junior events have been played here over the years. Wyboo Golf Club sits right across the street from The Players Club, so getting in 36 holes in a day is a breeze.
Although the course opened in 1999, golfers have been slow to discover this hidden gem. But according to Head Golf Professional, Victor Grubb that’s changing. Based on his attendance at winter consumer golf shows in several northern states, golfers are learning a lot more about the area. The destination has become especially popular with “snowbirds” who are on the way to Florida for the winter and stop over for a few days on their way down and on their way back. It makes sense and is a great way to add a little variety to your winter golf vacation.
What makes Wyboo Golf Club memorable is the layout and playing conditions which are unarguably the best in the area. It’s player-friendly with ample room off the tees, not an over-abundance of hazards, and remarkable greens that require a variety of approach shots. The club’s signature hole is the par3 13th, which plays 191 yards. It will take a long iron or hybrid shot off the tee into a green that is guarded by both a tree and bunker on the right and a pond on the left. Par is considered an achievement by many local golfers!
For me, getting out and exploring local “mom-and-pop” restaurants is a fringe benefit to what I do. Whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the restaurants in the area all offer something unique. Of course, you can never go wrong with breakfast at Shoney’s and their buffet!
Georgios is one exit down I-95 and has some of the best pizzas in the area. They also offer some delectable Italian food as well.
The Mill Street Grill features a laid-back atmosphere and some great food. Their deep-fried pickles were outstanding, and most entrees include at least one trip to a well-stocked salad bar. The menu features a little bit of everything from burgers and fries to prime rib on the weekend.
It’s easy to find lunch at one of these little hometown restaurants. Sub Station II is located near downtown Manning and serves some first-rate sandwiches: the meat is cut right in front of you. Their menu may seem somewhat limited but no matter what you order, it’ll taste great.
Currently, none of the local Clarendon County golf courses offer any lodging. A great hotel just off I-95 is the Hampton Inn. Rooms are spacious, comfortable, and well equipped with cable TV and coffee makers – two of my hotel necessities. They offer a complimentary breakfast buffet with both hot and cold items, fruits, yogurts, breads, and pastries. They are also centrally located; less than 15 minutes to each course.
Burger Chick was my favorite; the servings were plentiful and delicious. My wife went for the giant hamburger basket and said it was one of the best burgers she has had in a while. I had the two-piece fish dinner and had trouble finishing it. Their cole slaw is incredible!
If these golf courses were in a more populated area, they would probably receive a lot more play. That’s good news for golf travelers, who will find that booking tee times and lodging is easy and inexpensive. For more information on your next golf – or fishing – vacation to Clarendon County, SC, visit www.clarendoncounty.com.