After a chilly, but sunny, day on Sunday an unexpected line of storms blew through before our round at Tega Cay. The forecast for Monday called for a couple morning showers but it was clear when I went to bed on Sunday night so I didn’t think much of it. Our tee time was at 10:30am and I woke up around 7am to the sound of heavy rain! In Florida type fashion, it stopped raining by the time we got to the course and the sun was trying to break through the clouds. By noon, it was sunny again and it turned out to be a nice day!
If you follow my blog at all, you will know that I love playing golf in different states! Since Charlotte is so close to South Carolina, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to golf in both North and South Carolina on my trip. That had me looking at courses on the South Carolina side of town! The course is so close to North Carolina that apparently I forgot which state I was in when I posted a picture on Twitter with a NC hashtag, whoops!
Tega Cay is a 27 hole facility that is about half an hour from downtown Charlotte depending on traffic. The course is part of a community built around Lake Wylie which is a man-made lake that occupies part of both North and South Carolina. Unfortunately, very little of the lake can be seen from the course while upscale homes line many of the holes. This didn’t bother me much as the homes were set back and some were very impressive to look at!
The course has 27 holes and we played the Carolina Pines and Grande View nines. What’s curious is that the scorecard doesn’t even show the Cove nine, the remaining nine. On the scorecard Carolina Pines is listed as holes 1 through 9 and Grande View is listed as holes 10 through 18. I’m not sure how much the Cove nine is used as I didn’t see anyone playing it while we were there.
Anyway, the proshop said that a big group had just teed off so they let us head off the back which was a nice gesture. We didn’t have to wait on anyone and it felt like we had the place to ourselves! We took our time and played in about 4 hours, but could easily have played faster. I think we got a bit lucky as the poor weather in the morning kept some folks away!
Sometimes when playing a course with multiple nines, a designer tries to distinguish each with different features and the nines don’t always gel when played together. That wasn’t the case here though! The front nine (Carolina Pines) set the tone for the day with some elevation change, slope in the fairways, and some table top greens that fall off on one or multiple sides. I personally didn’t think the first few holes were anything too interesting when it came to the setting. They play close to a major road and what looked like a small water treatment plant. After the 4th hole though the scenery got nicer and while it wasn’t a walk (or ride) in the woods, I certainly knew I was in one of the Carolinas with all the pine trees! The pine trees added a nice bit of green considering that the bermuda was still dormant.
I noticed one interesting thing about each nine. The Carolina Pines nine doesn’t have a bunker! Considering all the different courses that I’ve played over the years I’m surprised that I don’t see this more often. Bunkers are expensive to maintain and even if conditions are perfect all it takes is one person not raking them to cause some terrible lies. I’m not suggesting that all bunkers be eliminated, but I’d like to see designers use fewer on some of the new designs. The holes made good use of the terrain so I don’t think the absence of bunkers hurt the design. On the back nine (Grande View) almost every hole played from an elevated tee! I count six holes that dropped down to the fairway or green from the tee and only one that played uphill. The drops weren’t anything crazy which was nice especially when combined with some extra room on one side of a hole. I’d call it a position course, but there were plenty of places to bail out if I wasn’t feeling comfortable. It helped that the course isn’t overly long. We played the black tees which play only 6,516 yards with a rating of 71.5 and a slope of 132.
Nice conditions are another reason that we played Tega Cay. The reviews that I read indicated that the course is always in great shape. Even after the quarter inch of rain that fell in the morning, we were treated to impressive off season conditions considering the $25 per person Golfnow “Hot Deal” that we found! As expected, there were some squishy spots especially on the lower parts of the course, but there wasn’t any standing water. I had plenty of nice lies in the fairways although I had some thin ones, but the fairways paled in comparison to the beautiful greens. The greens were receptive, probably because of the rain, and I never had a putt bump offline. The rolled at a good holing pace and I knew right away if a putt was going to drop or not. The tees were probably the weakest part of the maintenance and many were thin with plenty of divots.
Overall, I enjoyed the course and would recommend Tega Cay. There was just enough scenery to keep me interested and I thought it was a fair course. My average shots seemed to end up with average results while my good shots were rewarded. There weren’t any goofy holes considering the terrain either.
#1 (461 yard par 5):
The opening hole is one of the best birdie chances on the course. The tee shot can start out towards that budding tree in the center of the picture with a fade or someone can go down the right side. Missing left brings that tree into play while missing right brings the woods into play. The fairway drops down if laying up and then rises back up to the green so an uneven lie or awkward stance chipping around the green could be in the cards. I couldn’t see the green on my chip from 15 yards short.
#2 (338 yard par 4):
The 2nd is the shortest par 4 on the front nine and it is a position hole off the tee. It doglegs to the left so a draw is best off the tee, but not needed if laying up. The semi-blind approach is played into an elevated green that falls off on all sides. Accuracy is important on this hole.
#3 (487 yard par 5):
The 3rd is a short par 5 that allows someone a chance to get near the green in two after a good drive. The bigger hitters can probably carry that group of pines to the left of the fairway, but the ideal tee shot for everyone else is just a bit right of them. I hit it right of the fairway and had a hook lie when a straight shot is needed to get between some trees to the right and left of the fairway that start up short of the green. It is uphill to the green but someone has a very good chance of hitting a second shot short of the green. However, that leaves a tricky chip over a bowl and onto the green which has a ridge in the middle of it.
#4 (192 yard par 3):
#5 (400 yard par 4):
The 5th starts a stretch of some good thinking holes! It looks narrow from the tee, but that’s only because it plays through a chute. If you look at the satellite of the hole (or play it!) the fairway is one of the widest on the course. The left side opens up the farther that someone hits it and the right side has some slope to feed the ball to the left. I pulled it over to the left third of the fairway and had no trouble finding it. However, my approach either needed to go over or around some trees on the left. Make sure to carry the ball onto the green because the approach is played over a deep grass gully.
#6 (163 yard par 3):
I think that this is a brilliant, short par 3! You can see from the picture that the left side is the high side so all the slope feeds the ball to the right. Make sure to favor the left side, because who knows where a ball landing right of the green is going to end up. If someone wants to go directly at a flag on the right side then anything from a birdie to an “other” is in play. Another play is more conservative and out to the left.
#7 (407 yard par 4):
The 7th is ranked as the hardest hole on the course and for good reason. The tee shot is going to be very difficult for those who move the ball from right to left and the uphill approach into the green is at best going to be a mid-iron. This par 4 doglegs about 90 degrees at the end of the fairway. That means it is possible to hit it too far off the tee so it may be just a 3 wood for some golfers. It is possible to run an approach onto the green if it takes a kick forward which is nice.
#8 (418 yard par 4):
The 8th is the longest par 4 on the front and it played pretty long for us because it was into the wind. The tee shot isn’t too intimidating although a line down the left side of the fairway is preferred to shorten the hole. There could be some big tee shots here because of a large downslope, but unfortunately we couldn’t get to it because of the wind direction. The green has a front and a back level, but both are accessible because of some slope behind the green. My long iron bounced up into the hill behind the green and then rolled back about 15 feet onto the back tier.
#9 (374 yard par 4):
The front nine closes with a tricky, but potentially rewarding par 4. The tee shot is semi-blind as it plays over a rise and trees line the fairway so some local knowledge is a big plus. The hole moves slightly to the left which allows someone to hit a longer tee shot to a narrowing fairway (in hopes of a short approach to the green) or lay it up. I tried to hit my 230 yard club but missed it a little right. I was blocked out by some trees and decided to just pitch it back to the fairway.
#10 (393 yard par 4):
The back nine starts out with what I would consider the signature hole. It is a medium length, downhill par 4 with fairway bunkers (to the right) and plenty of water in play. Someone can hit driver, but the fairway narrows and the water cuts in on the left. I hit a 3 wood and ended up in the fat part of the fairway with a mid-iron into the green. The green, and water near the green, angle from front left to back right so it is a longer carry to a right flag. If in-between clubs I’d go for the extra one as there is some uphill slope behind the green to slow it down.
#11 (319 yard par 4):
The 11th is the shortest par 4 and easiest hole on the course. It offers a great chance for a birdie if someone can hit a straight tee shot and control the distance on the approach. The fairway slopes from left to right so a tee shot landing on the left third of the fairway is going to end up best. Most likely, that tee shot should be a layup to a favorite yardage. The approach is semi-blind and the pin was tucked on the shallower left side of the green when we played. Anything landing over the green is going to kick off a downhill slope and end up farther away from the green than expected.
#12 (162 yard par 3):
The 12th is my favorite par 3 on the course! It plays about a club downhill to a back to front sloping green that is surrounded by bunkers. Both my friend and I hit it to about 20 feet, but couldn’t be too aggressive with our downhill birdie putts. If someone hits a really poor shot there a hazard short of the green that can come into play.
#13 (420 yard par 4):
There is a lot that can go wrong at the uphill 13th so try not to make worse than a bogey. The fairway is narrow and slopes to the right and a bunker pinches it even more. Missing right of the rough line is generally going to result in a lost ball so I’d approach the hole with some caution. I had a long iron into the green and tried to hit a low, running shot to the left of the green and use the slope to get it on the surface. There is a back level to the green which just adds to the difficulty.
#14 (352 yard par 4):
The 14th is a shorter par 4 that plays from an elevated tee to a narrowing fairway that falls to the left in-between some bunkers. Most of the time I’d think this would be a layup and I hit my 215 yard club off the tee leaving myself a mid-iron into the green. Someone certainly can be more aggressive off the tee and if they can pull it off they should be rewarded. The approach is played into a large green that is guarded by water and angles from front left to back right, similar the 10th green complex.
#15 (200 yard par 3):
The 15th is the longest par 3 on the course. Anything to the left could be unplayable, but the green is deep to accommodate a long iron or hybrid. It looks like missing to the right would leave an easy up and down, but there is some slope to the right of the green and someone very likely could have to land the ball short of the green to get a chip close.
#16 (480 yard par 5):
The 16th is the first par 5 in quite a few holes so make sure to take advantage of it! It is only 480 yards but it plays uphill depending on where the balls lands so it isn’t as easy to get there in two as it might seem. Off the tee, the fairway has some stepped levels and a tree to the left which pushes shots to the right (even though the hole moves to the left). Someone is going to have to make a decision what to do on the second shot, which very well could be blind. There are plenty of options which include laying up, going for the green, or trying to leave a short pitch into the green. If laying up then a fairway bunker needs to be avoided, but a hill just over it can be used to feed the ball into the fairway. I decided to leave myself about 40 yards into the elevated green and tried to play a bump and run. There are plenty of options here which I think make it a good hole!
#17 (511 yard par 5):
The 17th is the other par 5 on the back and it could also be reachable. The tee shot should favor the left side of the fairway for the best angle into the green in hopes of getting a good bounce from the left to right slope. I ended up down the right side and had no chance to go for the green even from ~230 yards. The green sits off to the right, over some water, so a high slice is needed on the second if trying to reach the green in two. I laid it up and had about 100 yards from a downsloping fairway requiring me to hit a crisp one.
#18 (439 yard par 4):
The final hole at Tega Cay is a strong par 4! It is the longest par 4 on the course with water in play on the tee shot and the approach. The fairway is pretty wide but, even after a good drive, a long iron over water is needed. I missed it way right of the tee and had to lay up. In a way it was a relief that I didn’t have to try a 200 yard shot over water. Make sure to lay up far enough back as I almost hit my 100 yard second shot in the water! The green complex is similar to the 10th and 14th because of its angle.