Tom Jackson has built more than 100 golf courses over a 45-year period – including some 45 in his adopted home state of South Carolina, many of them widely acclaimed – and asking the 73-year-old Greenville resident to pick his favorites is sort of like asking a father to choose his favorite children.
“I’m proud of all of them,” Jackson says. “And I’d hate to offend anyone” who is a member of a Jackson design that doesn’t make his list.
That said, any architect knows when he’s done his best work. And Jackson, whose work has wound down as the golf course industry has done the same, has a wide selection to choose from, ranging from his Upstate
roots to Myrtle Beach
(seven designs along the Grand Strand) and even into the Midlands
Here are Jackson’s choices as his best work.
The Cliffs at Glassy, Landrum
– “I started out with a developer who’d never done a golf course, and we did the construction sort of hand-to-mouth, but the way it followed the contours of the land and how it ended up, it blossomed into something special. (It’s) a unique property on a low budget.” Note
– Golf Digest named the course the fourth most scenic in the U.S., sitting at 3,000 feet elevation.
Carolina Country Club, Spartanburg
– “The course has two distinct nines: the front nine is in a valley, but the back nine has rolling hills, so it’s like night and day. We built that the same year (1984) as …” Note
– Considered one of the Upstate’s best.
Links O’ Tryon, Campobello
– “This is one of my favorites to play, because we weren’t trying for a lot of length or difficulty. It’s on a small piece of land, so we had to maximize the shot values of the property. It’s a course where you don’t have to hit driver on a lot of holes, but it’s still challenging.” Note
– Named one of the U.S.’s top new courses in 1992-93.
Arrowhead, Myrtle Beach
– “It’s a great facility but it’s a manufactured golf course because we had a dead-flat piece of property as well as a lot of restrictions on runoff. So we had to maintain a lake system that generated a lot of water for retention, and we used the dirt (from digging lakes) to construct a course with a 3-dimensional look; I think it turned out well, and all that water is a challenge. Even the above-average golfer has to pay attention.” Note
– Has 27 holes made up of The Waterway, The Cypress and The Lakes nines; Jackson shares credit with PGA Tour legend Raymond Floyd on design.
Plantation Course, Edisto
– “Again, it’s a small piece of property and it was pristine, with all these live oaks, so we had to be careful on clearing, keeping the width of the fairways close. Since 1975-77, a lot of the trees have grown in, so it’s tighter. A lot of players tell me they like it, the demands to hit it straight, and you like to hear that.” Note
– Built in 1973 and originally named Oristo; renovated in 2006.
Pebble Creek, Greenville
– “It’s my home course, and we started with 18 holes in 1974 and added 18 more in 1984; it’s a great facility and covers about 1,200 acres. They run it as a semi-private course now.” Note
– Course has private Linkside and semi-private Creekside 18s.
The River Club, Litchfield Beach
– “I think it’s a great golf course. What’s amazing is nowadays you’ll spend $200,000 to $500,000 on clearance of the property; we built the entire course for that.” Notes
– Rated 4.5 (of five) stars by Golf Digest; Nos. 14 and 18 featured in the book “The 100 Greatest Holes Along the Grand Strand.”
Mount Vintage Plantation, North Augusta
– “It was a beautiful piece of land. The budget was tight there, too, but we managed the costs and still provided maximum quality. It has a nice flow to it; you can walk it or ride it, and enjoy both.” Notes
– Mount Vintage, which has 27 holes made up of the Chester, Vintage (both opened in 2000) and Independent (2008) nines, is currently closed, according to a Feb. 9, 2014, report by the Aiken Standard newspaper.