A Surprise Find on Our First Golf Tour of 2020

By Len Ziehm

I must admit that I was surprised to see the Cheraw State Park Golf Course included on the itinerary when trip planner Martin Armes lined our first golf/travel writing journey of 2020. Though we have been making such driving trips several times a year over the last 10 years we had never heard of the town of Cheraw, S.C., much less its golf course.

Though never reluctant to check out hidden gems, this one wasn’t really close to any of the other destinations on our itinerary. After visiting this South Carolina layout, however, I must admit that Martin was right. Cheraw State Park Golf Course is a great track.

In fact, since the calendar turned to 2020 we have played 20 courses and Cheraw is clearly the best of those. (That may change over the next three days when we have rounds on courses in the Pinehurst. N.C, area). None of the immediately upcoming courses are at the iconic Pinehurst Resort, but the Pinehurst area is loaded with good golf options.

As for Cheraw State Park Golf Course, it opened in 1992 and gets heavy play from Canadian golfers who like to rent cabins on the park grounds. Its superintendent, Chris Flowers, is considered top notch and the course was in the best condition of any we’ve seen so far in 2020. Its big clubhouse is also impressive.

Tom Jackson, a course architect based in Greenville, S.C., was the designer and his best hole was No. 13 – a sharp dogleg left par-4 that plays 492 yards from the back tees. The green is protected by water in front, to the left, behind the green and most of the right side. There are other challenging holes at Cheraw, but this one clearly merits its designation as the No. 1 handicap hole.

Jackson worked for both Robert Trent Jones Sr. and George Cobb before starting his own architectural firm in 1971. He’s built over 100 courses, nearly half of them in the Carolinas.

One interesting side note: Cheraw was the first course we’ve played this season that had rakes available in all the bunkers. They had been banned on most restriction lists mandated by the pandemic.

Cheraw State Park Golf Course measures 6,928 yards from the back tees and can play as short as 5,408. For more information check out www.playcheraw.com. More