By Bill Farley
These days, the term "Hybrid" is most closely associated with automobiles powered by both a gasoline engine and an electric motor. To golfers in the Lowcountry, the term can easily be applied to Charleston National, a challenging 18-hole layout by renowned golf course architect Rees Jones.
Charleston National combines the quality and amenities of a private club with the accessibility and reasonable greens fees of a public course.
It didn’t start out that way. Charleston National was conceived as an exclusive private club along the same lines as Augusta National, home of the Masters Tournament. Jones was brought in to create the finest course on the Southeast coast, one that would take advantage of its proximity to the Intracoastal Waterway and an array of lagoons, marshes and pine and oak forests.
But nature, in the form of Hurricane Hugo, intervened just after the grand opening in 1989. Thousands of old trees were lost and the course closed for more than a year for redesign and renovation.
Fortunately for local and visiting golfers, this superb course reopened as a semiprivate club, providing the public with the opportunity to play what its original architect called “one of the elite venues in golf” at a moderate price.
Charleston National is consistently ranked by major golf publications as the number one non-resort course in the Charleston area. It offers players the visual pleasures of its marshes and lagoons and the challenges of ever-shifting winds. Those cool ocean breezes can create vastly different playing conditions between morning and afternoon rounds.
The club itself offers all the services of a private facility, from clubhouse to pro shop, restaurant and bar.
What do golfers say about Charleston National? A visit to some of the most popular golf Web sites uncovers comments such as: “Beautiful course ... has much character and is a steal.” “Interesting layout.” “This course is unbelievable. Phenomenal greens, excellent customer service and experienced professional staff.”
And finally: “The restaurant was fast at the turn and delicious at the end of the round. And the Bloody Marys were awesome.”