OLDE ENGLISH DISTRICT, SOUTH CAROLINA (January 2015) — Although the good people inhabiting or visiting the Olde English District drive on the “right” side of the road, this fact does not make the golf being played there any less proper.
That’s because golf in the Olde English District is not the game played in the British Isles links land, but rather on the cushiony soil of northern central South Carolina.
“The OED,” as it is more popularly referred, is a land where the famed golfing Sandhills to the north meet the Lowcountry to the south and east. It is a place where small towns, medium prices and big-name golf course architects blend together.
This Palmetto State region has become renowned as a wonderfully surprising and affordable golf destination. Most of the golf in the area is situated along the stretch of Interstate 77 from Rock Hill to Columbia, S.C. With 18 golf courses in this region alone and many others in the near surrounding area, it is an ideal place to settle in for two days, three days or even a week.
But that’s not nearly all there is to see and do around the OED. There are local bands to be heard and sumptuous fare to be enjoyed. Along the way, you’ll learn plenty of rich Revolutionary War history. There’s also Civil War intrigue to be experienced.
Folks who live in this part of the South Carolina say that the OED name evokes time of yesteryear and a place of southern significance that dates back to the 1700s and the Revolutionary War. In reality, it’s even older than that.
Names of meaningful places and features, some with Native American Indian origins — like Rock Hill, Catawba, Camden, Kershaw, Winnsboro and Cheraw — are just a few examples reflecting the rich history of the region and helping generate an attraction that is impossible to duplicate anywhere else.
Though some of the traditions of the old country can be found —pub-style dining, train riding, steeplechase horse racing and golfing in and around historic enclaves to name a few — there still remains a distinctly downhome American quality to this welcoming land.
Sure, some of our nation’s earliest history unfolded on the shores of South Carolina. But it was inland from there where roads, rivers and trains deposited adventurous travelers, and where hotels — then golf courses — began to spring up over time. These days there are plenty of opportunities for golfers to get tipsy over.
Speaking of which, moonshine whiskey, a distinctly American concoction, is actually sold in this part of South Carolina. During the early years of our nation, government control of the alcohol trade prompted folks to secretly make their own whiskey — under the light of the moon — and an entire culture resulted.
At any rate, the “shine” still flows in this part of the south adding to the area’s wonderful blend of English and American influences. Together, they make a golf trip to its Olde English District (OED) a unique and special one.
A visit to the Olde English District can begin in a number of locations, but the unquestionable “capital” of the district is Rock Hill/York County, located a swift and easy 30 minutes south of Charlotte Douglas International Airport. It is there that you’ll discover fine layouts like Springfield Golf Club in Fort Mill. Further south toward Columbia is Cobblestone Park Golf Club in Blythewood — home to the University of South Carolina Gamecock golf teams and a Top 30 Palmetto State stalwart.
Of course, there are other gems, like the Tom Jackson designed Cheraw State Park Course built around 309-acre Lake Juniper, if you don’t mind taking some time and driving east along the “right” side of some scenic South Carolina highways getting there. Located along the banks of the Pee Dee River, Cheraw previously served as a major shipping port to Charleston and Georgetown and a strategic commercial and military staging area, littered with famous battles and conflicts of allegiance centuries ago.
A few other OED headliners include the Donald Ross designed Camden Country Club — located in the state’s oldest inland city and bisected by active train tracks — and on the more modern side of things, the Bruce Brodsky-designed Edgewater Golf Club in a Fuzzy Zoeller lake and golf community in Lancaster.
In all, South Carolina’s Olde English District provides everything the adventurous traveller should want. Once there, however, make sure to take your time staying there and playing there. Go exploring, both on and off the fairways. You won’t leave disappointed.