Secession is a course which flies under the radar - I knew it was designed by Aussie Bruce Devlin , but knew little else. Secession does not get mentioned in press dispatches too often, but those who really know their golf need no introduction. Secession has 750 members and has a 'national' membership model, not unlike Augusta and Pine Valley. The club does not accept members who live within 100 miles of the course. Typically it is the 2nd or 3rd membership for these people who come from all over the USA. The members would normally come into the club 3 or 4 times a year for a short stay and bring 3 guests- 65% of all rounds are played by guests. If you are fortunate enough to become a member annual dues are modest...
The course itself has an interesting design history. It is built almost entirely in the swampland and was originally routed by Pete Dye, then PB Dye was involved before the club made the decision to ask Bruce Devlin to take over.
Devlin completed all the detail work, and shaped what is essentially a links style course in the wetlands, with the course opening in 1991. This course would never be allowed to be built today with environmental restrictions. The course measures over 7000 yards from the tips, but has a number of forward tees to suit - all named after Generals in the Civil War. The club name Secession comes from the Articles of Secession of 1860 signed at nearby Beaufort.
There are no houses surrounding the course - just 18 holes winding through the wetland, with 14 of the holes largely surrounded by water or marshland.
In deference to it's history the club has an operational cannon to greet you at the front of the clubhouse. It is perhaps a little intimidating- but pales into insignificance compared to the butterflies generated by one of the most amazing first tee shots in golf...with the narrowest of tees projecting out into the swamp, and a slither of fairway arching away surrounded both sides by swamp...
This is a course which demands precise course management - which I love.
You not only had to carry water and bunkers with many of your shots, you have to elect how much angle to take on...It is also a great course to walk- with flat terrain, and tees close to greens. And the caddy experience we had was first rate.
Not to mention that the links style greens and surrounds provide any number of options to get the ball up and down.
The strategically placed revetted pot bunkers are immaculate and penal - coming out sideways or backwards is often a good result!
Secession has a large number of spectacular holes, all imprinted on my sub conscious. The first hole has a long thin elevated tee box effectively not much wider than the boardwalk it resembles - I have never seen anything like it - with wetlands either side. The tee shot must carry 150-250 yards depending on the angle you take to a thin slither of fairway arcing around the swamp.
If you are successful you will have a short iron to a flat green with wetlands on 3 sides.
And that is just the opening hole!
Hole 14 is probably the signature hole with a spectacular green wrapped around the swamp.
Hole 17 got the heart rate up - a short par 3 island green - there is nowhere to hide....
And hole 18 is a great example of a Cape hole - a long par 4 with a carry over the drink dictating how long that last approach will be.
Overall the day at Secession rates as one of the better golfing experiences I have had.
It is that good!
Secession GC is located in Beaufort, Sth Carolina, and in the same low country as Hilton Head island, and Kiawah Island Resort
The Travelling Golfer