Making Time at Old Carolina: Time for the Family, Time for the Beach, Time for Fun!
Author: Paul deVere
The “new” Old Carolina Golf Club is celebrating its first year as a nine-hole course this August and, according to general manager Paul Schell, people really like it. Andy and Brenda Gordon, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, enthusiastically agree. “This is really ideal for us,” Andy said. “My mother took care of the kids this morning and now we’re all going to the beach.” Brenda added, “Playing just nine holes gives us more family time.”
The number of Hilton Head Island visitors who have “discovered” Old Carolina has been a surprise for Schell. “We do get a great deal of tourist play,” he said. “This is a course for families, for dad, mom and the kids. And to get this quality of golf for $26 is very reasonable.” Golf Digest agreed, naming it one of the “Best Places to Play” for 2006-2007.
“The condition of the course is as good as if you were playing Old South or Hilton Head National. We’re a full-length nine,” Schell said. “We have tees where everybody can have fun. For good players it is definitely a challenge, the course will give them all they want. We also have junior tees for the kids and everything in between,” he explained.
An added feature of the course is that there are actually 10 holes. Number 9 and Number 18 (the 10th hole) are right beside each other. Players coming off Number 8 can choose to hit to either one. “If there is someone already on 9, the players on 8 can go directly to 18.That extra hole really helps speed of play,” Schell said.
Another attractive feature of the club is that there are no tee times. “People absolutely love that. They can come out whenever they want. They don’t have to rush off the beach to be here for a specific time,” Schell said. In the summer season, the first golfer can tee off at 6:30 a.m. The last golfer goes off a 6:30 p.m. “We’re busy through the morning, then slow down between 2 to 4 p.m. At 4, we start to fill up. That’s when local players come out,” Schell explained. Because of the no tee time rule, it is easy for players to play nine more holes. “It’s just $16 to play again. About 20 percent of our golfers go back out,” Schell said.
Every Thursday evening, 70 local players are making it a habit to play Old Carolina. “We have this women’s league,” said Schell. “The wife of one of my staff and my wife came up with the idea. They call themselves the ‘Par Tees.’ Our original goal was to have 20 golfers. We thought that would be really strong. We just hit our 70 mark.”
Schell puts on a clinic every other Thursday for the league. Every Thursday, after league play, the golfers go out to eat in Bluffton. “Definitely ‘ladies night out,’” Schell said.
One of the sure signs of success for a golf course is repeat business. Schell said that once a visitor plays Old Carolina, they come again. “When they play the course one time on vacation, we’ll see those people during the whole week.” As if to second that statement, as the Gordons were leaving the parking lot, Andy waved out his car window to one of the assistant pros and said, “See you tomorrow.”