Congaree Golf Club (RCR)

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MAJORHIGH

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« on: July 12, 2019, 01:10:12 AM »


(Forbes Magazine: April 27, 2017. Erik Matuszewski)

Golf and giving have always gone hand-in-hand. But at Congaree, a new golf club steeped in history in South Carolina’s low country, philanthropy is the ethos of an entirely new membership model.

The low-key folks behind Congaree aren’t interested in attention; in fact they’ve completely shunned the publicity or fanfare that typically accompanies a new golf course project. I only heard about the club’s unique vision from a mutual friend in the industry and, intrigued, actively sought to learn more.

In a nutshell: Congaree, which is about 30 minutes north of Savannah, Georgia, is quietly growing an exclusive international membership and boasts a world-class course unlike any other designed by Tom Fazio that is destined to be considered for a coveted place in Top 100 lists. But that’s not the story.

The story of Congaree is one of hope, inspiration and giving. It’s a story of making a difference, both locally and globally, through golf and life lessons both on the course and off. The membership process is old-fashioned: by referral only. And while there is no initiation fee, Congaree’s “ambassadors,” as they’re called, are encouraged to not only make a financial contribution to the charitable Congaree Foundation that’s separate from the club, but to take an active role in interacting with youth and sharing their life experiences, both good and bad.

The exclusively private club built on a former 18th century rice plantation was founded by two of the 200 richest people in the U.S.: Dan Friedkin, chairman of The Friedkin Group, a privately held consortium of businesses in the automotive, luxury hospitality, golf and entertainment industries; and Robert C. “Bob” McNair, owner of the NFL’s Houston Texans and chairman of The McNair Group. The two Texas businessmen own other successful golf clubs – Friedkin the Diamond Creek Golf Club in Banner Elk, North Carolina, and McNair the Golf Club at Briar’s Creek in Johns Island, South Carolina – but they sought something different, a new club model with a sustaining purpose shared among its ambassadors.

The remarkable golf course at Congaree is ultimately the mechanism for this new philanthropic model.

Friedkin’s edict was to find a great piece of land that was accessible from the Eastern seaboard. Davidson and McNeely scouted six to eight locations, but the inland property that would become Congaree stood out – from its sandy soil perfect for building a golf course to its peaceful hunting grounds and historic feel.

When they saw it for the first time, the two men looked at each other and said, “Pine Valley,” immediately seeing the similarities to the New Jersey site home to one of the world’s best courses, not to mention the Pinehurst area that’s considered the cradle of American golf. When Fazio first visited, his response was similar: “You guys hit the mother lode here.”

It took nine straight months of logging pine trees and grinding stumps to clear space for the course, which Fazio routed through oaks up to 300 years old. Numerous mature trees were carefully uprooted and replanted elsewhere around the course.

Congaree was built in the spirit of Heathland courses found in Britain or the sandbelt courses of Australia. It has a natural look, lends itself to the ground game and plays firm and fast -- think Royal Aberdeen in a drought, Davidson says. The fairways aren’t the only place where the balls will run; the greens are fast, challenging and roll true as a pool table.

“We always knew that we wanted to create a golf course for the ages,” says McNeely, whose extensive list of prominent club experience includes working under Masters champion Claude Harmon at Winged Foot in New York. “I know everyone that opens up thinks they’re going to be Augusta National, and different. That’s hard to do. We had an opportunity here to be close to what we wanted to do because of the way the land was, and because of the way it would play firm and fast.”

Friedkin and McNair’s aspirations were for Fazio to build a course unlike many of the overly lush designs favored throughout the U.S. today. He’s succeeded, and perhaps that should come as no surprise for an architect who impressively has 24 courses (including Diamond Creek) ranked among the 100 best modern courses in the U.S.





















« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 09:40:36 AM by MAJORHIGH »
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Part-Time Jaffa

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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2019, 12:24:05 PM »
Really awesome play. 5 star fave. Some of the best long par 4s. Thought #15 was a real cool hole. Some really nice intricate planting that I found my self admiring along the way. Great work !
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MAJORHIGH

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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2019, 03:40:24 PM »
Really awesome play. 5 star fave. Some of the best long par 4s. Thought #15 was a real cool hole. Some really nice intricate planting that I found my self admiring along the way. Great work !

Thanks PTJ, glad you enjoyed it.
Stonecypher Club (Tour)
Ford Plantation (RCR)
Widow's Talon
Pinhook Saddle Club

bigtee

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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2019, 05:32:30 PM »
Nice course. Scorecard was a sea of red. Course is well thought out. I'll need to put more thought into it next time.

Valdebrun

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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2019, 11:46:03 AM »
Very beautiful and different course.  I love the look of it, very true to the area.

Thanks

MAJORHIGH

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« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2019, 07:24:17 PM »
Nice course. Scorecard was a sea of red. Course is well thought out. I'll need to put more thought into it next time.

You can thank Tom Fazio for those red numbers. He designed a tough course for sure....and this is just the Member's version. I'm going to publish a Tour version next.
Stonecypher Club (Tour)
Ford Plantation (RCR)
Widow's Talon
Pinhook Saddle Club

Jumping Jimmy 362

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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2019, 12:16:10 PM »
This is a wonderful course, very natural looking and a great layout.  I still play one of your older designs; Widow's Talon.  I think that one is one of the better courses in the game.  I really appreciate all the effort it takes to create a course like this.  Thanks, 5*fav
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Yeltzman

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« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2019, 04:28:41 PM »
Really Enjoyed this one,struggled a little 1st round only a albatross saved my round,Played a 2nd round played a bit better thought the level of this course was outstanding Surprised to see comment on a Tour version thought this version was perfect for all players.Thought the greens were really tough to putt on.



 

MAJORHIGH

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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2019, 03:26:58 PM »
Thank you guys for playing the course and the great feedback. Yeltzy, I would do a Tour version because that's what the founders of Congaree and Fazio wanted to achieve. I think this course has the potential to be extremely difficult and there are many who want those courses, including me. I want shooting par to be an achievement.

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Stonecypher Club (Tour)
Ford Plantation (RCR)
Widow's Talon
Pinhook Saddle Club

 

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