Golf

Bob Gillespie

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Edgewater Golf Club: Fuzzy Zoeller fun, but you have to work to find it

Posted 11/15/2012 11:02:00 AM

Phil Lobeck spent nine years working for 1979 Masters champion and Champions Tour stalwart Fuzzy Zoeller at a couple of Zoeller’s courses in his home state of Indiana. So he knows the type of layouts his former boss likes to build: “Fun courses, courses where you can have a good time. If they’re not that way, they don’t get his brand on them,” Lobeck says.

Two years ago, Lobeck arrived in South Carolina to become head professional at Edgewater Golf Club, built as the focus of an upscale housing development between Great Falls and Lancaster. Not long after, he urged his old boss – whose daughter, Gretchen, played for the College of Charleston golf team – to come give the place a look.

“Before he saw it, I told him, ‘This is very similar to what you build,’ and he said, ‘That’s good to hear,’” Lobeck says. “The owners wanted to separate themselves (from area courses) and have a (PGA Tour) endorsement. Well, Fuzzy is very laid-back, family-oriented, and we’ve brought that lifestyle to South Carolina.”

Thus the golf course, built on Fishing Creek Lake by rookie architect Bruce Brodsky and opened in August 2008, isn’t a Zoeller design, though Edgewater is billed as a “Fuzzy Zoeller Community.” Says Lobeck: “Down the road, he might come in and make some small changes, but that could be a ways down the road.

“A lot of people assume it’s a Fuzzy design because this course parallels his designs for being player-friendly.”

Indeed, Edgewater – 7,103 yards from the back tees with rolling, heavily-wooded terrain, elevated greens, large bunkers and slick bent-grass greens – is delightful to play … once you find it. Lobeck concedes few do so accidentally.

The course is, almost literally, in the middle of nowhere; the closest community is Belltown, a wide spot on S.C. 200. Best bet: Use an up-to-date GPS. Golf-wise, though, it’s worth the effort.

Edgewater has a private-club air about it, no surprise since it was planned as a getaway community, has a members’ marina and plans a new, large clubhouse to replace the current one. Having opened in the darkest days of the economic downturn, the club so far has just 30 local members, so while Lobeck says the intent was always to allow public play, he says he now does more marketing to tourists and area public players.

“We pull about 80 percent of our play from Charlotte,” he says. “We have a $30 (weekday) senior rate and we draw from Sun City and Carolina Lakes (retirement communities). And on spring weekends, we get filled to capacity. People up there know where we are and will spend 30 minutes in the car to get here.”

That knowledge hasn’t reached the Midlands – so far. “We’d like to get more players from Columbia,” Lobeck says.

Besides the course, attractions include the feeling of isolation – no two fairways are parallel – and an abundance of wildlife. Turkey and deer tracks are common sights in bunkers. “(Playing there) is just a peaceful feeling,” he says.

The scenery can be spectacular. Many holes’ elevation changes – including the par-4 first, all downhill, and the par-4 10th, from an elevated tee into a valley and sweeping uphill to the green – make the course look longer and more daunting than in reality.

Especially memorable are the par-3 15th, all downhill to a green guarded by a long bunker along the front-left; the devilish par-4 12th, a dogleg left where the fairways slope away to the right and ending at a well-bunkered green; and the par-4 seventh, a downhill dogleg left that forces players to drive the right-center of the fairway, then play to a green perched on the bank above Fishing Creek Lake.

Lobeck claims not to have a favorite hole. “The main thing I tell (visitors) is, it’s in really good shape and it’s peaceful, off the beaten path, relaxing … and worth the trip. It sort of decompresses you, winds players down.”

What might wind them up? How about a Fuzzy sighting? The long-time PGA Tour star visits about three times a year, and the club builds events around those visits. A while back, Lobeck staged “Fuzzy and Friends at Edgewater,” with Zoeller, former Charlotte NBA star Dell Curry, son Stephan, NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and former Carolina Panthers player Frank Garcia competing in a skins game.

“They were all tied after six holes, and then at the seventh, Dell cut the corner on the dogleg with water behind the green, was on the green and made a 40-footer for eagle to win all seven holes’ worth of skins.” Today, Lobeck says, the club refers to No. 7 as “Dell’s Hole.”

Play at Edgewater, and you can see Dell’s Hole. Some days, you might see Dell, too. But what you see of the course is more than enough reason to find Edgewater Golf Club. For information, call (803) 283-9800 or go to www.edgewatergc.com.