Golf 2010

Robert Gilbert



Discover beautiful State Park golf at Hickory Knob

Posted 9/29/2010 11:36:00 AM

As you would expect from a golf course located inside a state park, natural beauty abounds at Hickory Knob Resort State Park Golf Course. From the beautiful views of Lake Thurmond to the abundant wildlife, the golf course is often rivaled by its stunning surroundings.

Watch a video of the Hickory Knob State Resort Park Golf Course!

Let’s start with the living scenery.

“The wildlife visible on and around the course is really unbelievable,” said Tommy Rankin, Golf Pro at Hickory Knob. “During certain times of the year, we can sit right here in the pro-shop and watch the deer run across the driving range.”

In addition to the early morning golfers, those with late afternoon tee times will most likely come across a few members of the native deer population, also.

And then there’s Lake Thurmond, which is visible from just about every hole on the course.

“The course was designed so that it literally wraps around the lake,” said Rankin.

As beautiful as the surroundings are, the quality of golf is just as impressive.

Before our round, Rankin described the course to me this way:

“This is not a long hitter’s course,” Rankin said. “In fact, you’ll probably only need your driver on three or four holes at most. However, it does require accurate shots from the tee to the green.”

And then there’s the 2nd hole. “Please Limit Your Strokes to 8 On This Hole,” a sign reads. Definitely an intimidating note to tee off with. However, while the sign did give me pause, I just assumed it was meant for lesser golfers than myself, and continued on confidently to the tee box.

That’s when the real intimidation begins.

Hickory Knob’s 2nd hole is a 552-yard par 5 that plays every bit as long as it sounds, and then some. From the tee box, I was met with a view that includes a water hazard approximately 240 yards from the tee, followed by a fairway that gradually climbs to a green elevated more than 50 feet above the tee.

Suddenly the sign’s ominous message seemed a bit more realistic.

Lake Thurmond is reachable from the tee, so long hitters have to be careful. Cut it too close to the hazard, and you’ll end up hitting your second shot from thick rough. Trust me, when you are facing 300+ yards to an elevated green, thick rough is not your friend. I found this out first-hand and ended up only advancing the ball a little ways up the fairway.

This is when the strokes start adding up quickly. Thanks to my short 2nd shot, I was left with an approach to an elevated green with a blind pin from about 185 yards out. Not wanting to leave myself yet another uphill shot, I got aggressive and ended up flying the green. This, it turns out, was a mistake. While the green is elevated, it slopes back down towards the fairway, meaning anything long of the green is going to be really tough to stop on the putting surface.

After all was said and done, I can report that I did come in beneath the “posted” maximum score, albeit not by much.

After playing the front nine, I decided that Rankin’s description of the course was only half right. The course did indeed require accurate shots, but when it came to length off the tee, I think he might have given me too much credit. Other than two par-3s, I hit a driver off every tee. Overall, though, the course is still very enjoyable even at its most challenging. And remember, the scenery is great, even if your golf game is not.

If you’re planning on visiting the park to play golf, you should really consider making a weekend out of it. From accommodations to dining, Hickory Knob State Resort Park has everything you need for a great golf vacation. The park is in McCormick, south of Anderson in the northwest part of South Carolina, about 90 miles from Columbia.

For more information, visit, or call (800) 491-1764.

Watch SC Golf Insider Robert Gilbert play the golf course
 at Hickory Knob State Resort Park!