By Bill Bauer
At the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Travelers Rest, South Carolina is a golf course community named for the first people to set foot in Greenville County: The Cherokee. Amassing 452-acres of rolling topography, the Cherokee Valley Golf Club offers outstanding mountain golf just minutes from downtown Greenville and less than an hour from Hendersonville and Asheville, North Carolina. If you’re looking for a round of golf in a serene setting with spectacular scenery and the solitude that is synonymous with mountain courses, you’ll find it at Cherokee Valley.
Cherokee Valley Golf Club (CVGC) is a classic P.B. Dye design that opened in 1994. Not only did Dye create the course, he got married on it! One of the more impressive holes is the current 8th and soon to be 6th, a 175 yard par 3 with an elevation drop of 70 feet—it’s where Dye tied the knot, with Glassy Mountain in the distance overlooking the event. Dye saw this piece of land and knew the rolling topography would be perfect.
While it easily owns the signature hole label on Dye’s beautiful but demanding layout, each hole is spectacular. Discover South Carolina’s team of expert golf writers has described Cherokee Valley Golf Club’s “thoughtfully sculpted and masterfully designed” P.B. Dye-designed layout as “top notch golf with stunning mountain vistas.” Adding to its recent accolades, Cherokee Valley has been selected by the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism for its list of “Can’t Miss Upstate Golf Courses.”
Whether heading to the golf course on SC’s Scenic Highway 11 or on US 25 out of Travelers Rest, it’s a windy drive through the countryside before arriving at Cherokee Valley Golf Club. On the way to the Pro Shop you get a glimpse of what awaits: a stunning, award-winning golf course with dramatic changes in elevation that will not only challenge your game, but provide a fun round of golf no matter what your age or level of play.
For 23 years Cherokee Valley Golf Club remained virtually unchanged, earning its reputation as a semi-private course with a country club feel. But in 2017, Matthew and Renee Jennings purchased the course, and a new and exciting chapter in CVGC’s story began. As the Jennings enter their fourth year, construction is nearly completed on a vibrant restaurant, “Core 450,” and a new clubhouse, “The Shop,” both designed to enhance the already great golf experience.
“The timing could not be better to shine,” says Jennings. “This area needs a place that is a safe beacon to enjoy great food in a welcoming atmosphere. We have the opportunity to serve our guests in our open-air, indoor dining room along with dining outdoors while enjoying beautiful views and music.” Overlooking the 1st, 9th, and 18th holes, Core 450 sits majestically atop The Shop and the golf cart staging area. Golfers will be able to pass by at the turn and end their round where they started.
The temporary reconfiguration of golf holes that was created to allow for construction will revert to the original Dye layout this spring when the doors open to Core 450 and The Shop. “I think golfers are going to love it and the course is going to play true to its original P.B. Dye design,” says owner Matt Jennings. “We’ve received great feedback on the current configuration. Low handicappers have readily accepted the challenge of facing two of the toughest holes on the course right from the start.”
The return to the 2017 routing is greatly anticipated and will have several advantages. According to “The Kee,” CVGC’s blog, “First it offers golfers a “softer” start to their round with a manageable par 4, a short par 3, and a reachable par 5. Second it allows for a true ‘turn’ after the 9th hole where golfers can restock on drinks, snacks, or grab a lunch to go.”
After the opening three holes, be prepared for the challenge that picks up as you ascend the mountain before dropping down on numbers 6 and 7 and cruising in to Core 450 and the clubhouse after parring the 9th! The Shop is welcoming at check-in or at the turn. Its bright, modern, 1000 square foot interior is complete with flat screen televisions and a craft beer cooler from which you can build your own six-pack. Add an extensive selection of golf gadgets, clubs, and apparel, and you have more than your average pro shop offers.
Cherokee Valley’s back nine continues the roller coaster ride where club selection and placement are paramount. Number 11, a 540-yard par 5—one of the hardest holes in the Upstate and the number 1 handicap hole—is a mere 120-foot rise from tee to green. Plan on an extra club or two! From the 11th, be prepared for one picturesque hole after the next until you reach your descent at 16, the beginning of three daunting finishing holes.
If the back nine had a signature hole it would be 17. From the tips it is a monster par-4 at 461 yards with a sizeable lake sitting below and right of the green. The finisher, the par-4 18th number 3-handicap hole, is a full carry-over a ravine from the tee. On all three, shorter hitters have a distinct advantage from the green tee boxes, taking the hazards out of play. Par these three and head to Core 450!
Jennings is not a newcomer when it comes to restaurants and golf and is passionate about bringing a first-class venue for both to the Greenville area. A seasoned entrepreneur and golf course manager from a family-owned course in Ohio, Jennings is fulfilling a dream in opening Core 450 this spring, having envisioned it before purchasing the golf course. It didn’t take long for him to hire Executive Chef Todd Warden to head the Core 450 team in devising an innovative, full-service restaurant and gathering place like no other in the Upstate. And it’s not just for golfers says Jennings: “Whether you come by golf cart, car, bicycle or Harley, or if you’re wearing a suit and tie or coming over from the pool in your beachwear, we have a post for you.”
While CVGC is a short trip from anywhere in Upcountry South Carolina for daily golf trips, its ‘Stay & Play’ packaging makes it a compelling overnight destination as well. Its cottage collection features three elegantly appointed homes right on the golf course. Each is equipped with four bed-and-bath suites to provide plenty of privacy and ample space. The cottages afford a relaxing atmosphere with panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rates start at $130 a night for one room with one bed and range up to $600 for a four-bedroom cottage with two beds per room. A round of golf on Cherokee’s P.B. Dye-designed mountain-style layout can be added for $33 on weekdays (Mondays through Thursdays), $43 on weekends (Fridays through Sundays) or $60 for “all you can play,” subject to availability. And, remember while each cottage has a fully appointed kitchen, Core 450 is a nine iron away.
Cherokee Valley Golf Club
450 Cherokee Valley Way
Travelers Rest, SC 29690
Be sure to click on “The Kee” from the pull-down menu for the most up-to-date information on all that is going on.
– Photos by Logan Childs; renderings courtesy Cherokee Valley Club
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