A River Runs Through
Top Carolina Golf Communities
By Larry Gavrich, Founder & Editor,
Home On The Course, LLC
The Carolinas, which stretch from the Atlantic Ocean to the nearly mile high western Carolina mountains, offer plenty of alternatives inland, featuring year-round golf inside the gates of reasonably priced communities located beside a river. Here are a few choices that might just float your boat.
For a community not located near any city of consequential size, River Landing is ideally located. First, its front gate is about a driver and pitching wedge from Interstate 40. That location means River Landing residents hungry for city action can be in Wilmington (and Wrightsville Beach) within 45 minutes and in Raleigh (and its major hub of an airport) in a little over an hour. But there are not many reasons to wander too far from the community, which features 36 holes of highly rated golf, a clubhouse that surpasses in design and size those in communities with higher priced real estate, and a river house that is a favorite attraction for community gatherings and barbecues. Home prices start around $180,000. Some homesites are priced as low as $1,000, but typically begin around $20,000.
Cypress Landing, Chocowinity, NC
Large paper companies once thought it made sense to develop golf communities on land they no longer needed for tree growth. Cypress Landing, developed by Weyerhauser in the 1990s, is one. Located on the Pamlico River, an extension of a bay that stretches out to the Atlantic, Cypress Landing has been in its property owners’ hands since 2003. The community’s curb appeal is more substantial than its real estate prices would indicate. (Homes start around $195,000, home sites in the $30s.) Remarkably, for a community formed by a paper company whose business model was to produce wood and paper products, trees dominate around homes and on the golf course, which was designed by the respected Bill Love. Nearby Greenville, not to be confused with the larger town of the same name in South Carolina, features a major university, Eastern Carolina, one of the largest medical center complexes anywhere, and some excellent barbecue.
A bit of a misnomer, Colleton River Plantation is surrounded by the meandering Harbor River, which has more arms than an octopus and embraces the community on three sides and includes seven miles of shoreline within the gates. For those who fancy themselves sea captains, Colleton River offers unfettered access to the Atlantic Ocean. But with 45 holes of golf by Jack Nicklaus and Pete Dye, most of Colleton River’s residents would rather have their feet planted firmly on the ground of one of the Lowcountry’s top golfing venues. (The greens tend to be lightning fast.) Only serious golfers and club members need apply: Every resident at Colleton River is obliged to pay annual dues for as long as they own property there. That is one reason why, today, as a hangover from the irrational exuberance of pre-recession purchases, nine homesites are available at Colleton for just $1. Count on construction costs in the $175 per square foot range, and up.
The river that runs through Wachesaw Plantation is the Waccamaw, part of the east coast’s Intracoastal Waterway system that flows from Maine to Florida, partially inland on rivers and partially among coastal islands. On Wachesaw’s classic Tom Fazio layout, the Waccamaw makes itself apparent only on the finishing hole, and then only as a beautiful backdrop to the 18th green. Diners at Kimbel’s, the on-site restaurant beside the river, are afforded the best seated views but most residents live no more than a casual stroll from the banks and the beautiful live oaks that provide refreshing shade on classically hot Lowcountry days. Smart buyers are identifying Wachesaw as one of the best bargains in real estate south of Myrtle Beach; I noticed a bright and tidy three-bedroom cottage currently listed at just $285,000. Initiation fees for the club are a bargain also.
The River Club, North Augusta, SC
The Savannah River defines the border between South Carolina and Georgia for its entire length, starting in the Calibogue Sound off Hilton Head Island and ending hundreds of miles away where it disappears into the lakes upstate that were formed for hydroelectric power purposes in the mid 20th Century. Along the way, the Savannah passes between Augusta, GA, and North Augusta, SC, where, in the late 1990s, enterprising developers saw the river as an added attraction for golfers and residents alike. The River Run Golf Club opened in 1998 to praise from the golfing world and [Golf Digest], which named it one of the Top Five New Courses in America. Today, the Jim Fazio designed layout is a magnet for members and the public alike, and the sleek set of golf cottages beside the fairways is a great way to kick the tires on a community that features single-family homes from around $400,000.
Mount Pleasant is one of the fastest growing towns in the southeast. Known as much for traffic along Highway 17 as for its shopping malls, seafood restaurants and proximity to Charleston, just a few miles over the beautiful Ravenel Bridge, Mount Pleasant recently widened the major thoroughfare and eased congestion substantially. The western edge of Rivertowne, which once was owned by the legendary golf community impresario Bobby Ginn, runs along the Wando River, and the relatively few homes with water views sell at a premium. But elsewhere in the community, homes start around $400,000. The Rivertowne layout is one of the best in the area, and one especially nice aspect of membership in the semi-private Rivertowne club is that you are also a member of Snee Farm, a private George Cobb designed course just a few miles up the highway.