Savannah Lakes Village (SLV) is a 4,300-acre master-planned community on the shores of South Carolina’s Lake Thurmond. It’s one of America’s largest man-made lakes, with over 1,200 miles of shoreline. Only 150 miles have been zoned for development, however, and 25 of those miles are within the SLV master plan. In that idyllic and unspoiled setting where bald eagles nest in tall trees on the water’s edge, renowned architect Tom Clark designed the community’s Tara and Monticello golf courses.
Matt Wooldridge is the Director of Amenity Services at Savannah Lakes Village. “Our golf courses are very mature for relatively young courses, and the two layouts are quite different,” he says. “Tara has more up-and-down elevation changes with large doglegs on the par fives. The Tara Clubhouse is perched above the 9th and 18th holes, which creates a signature finish on the huge double green that they share, one of several unique features that make the course so special. Monticello’s signature waterfront holes of No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 along Lake Thurmond are some of the most scenic holes in the United States. Not only is the whole course extremely picturesque, but the gradual slopes on the fairways and greens towards the water add to the playing challenge.”
SLV’s developers, Robert Bradley and Jim Walsh, both relocated to the community from Boston. “I can assure you that these courses would truly be ‘destination courses’ anywhere in New England, and I would put Monticello on anyone’s ‘bucket list,’” says Bradley. “Besides being able to play them 12 months a year, we have zero initiation fees, whereas you’d pay over $100,000 in New England for this caliber of golf. There are no expensive annual dues, monthly dining room minimums, or special assessments, and our members never have a problem getting a tee time.”
“Both of our courses, as well as the community’s common areas and other amenities, are owned by the members,” Walsh adds. “The golf courses have always been meticulously maintained over the years by the well- established and financially sound Savannah Lakes Village Property Owners Association.”
SLV’s Director of Golf Maintenance Bob McIntosh shares the accolades for the superb quality of play on Tara and Monticello. “Bob has been in charge of our golf course conditions for 15 years, and there’s no substitute for that kind of knowledge and experience,” Wooldridge says. “He and his staff do an
outstanding job on everything from routine daily maintenance to specific course enhance- ments based on member feedback.”
Both of the SLV courses measure more than 7,000 yards in total length, offering a worthy challenge for low-handicap golfers, but six sets of thoughtfully placed tee boxes lessen the difficulty and make them enjoyable for players of all skill levels. “We have very active men’s and women’s 18-hole groups, plus a number of different nine-hole groups that seem to grow every month,” says Wooldridge. “We also have a full schedule of member-guest tournaments and other special golf events. Our Sunday couples events often have more than 100 players.”
Wooldridge credits SLV’s head golf professional Gareth Edwards with enhancing member enthusiasm, while also increasing participation with his innovative Golf 101 program: “Gareth and his staff have really championed the 101 program and, with more than 400 new members at Savannah Lakes Village in the past 18 months, it’s been a great way for non-golfers and spouses to get involved. We’re running it every week now and plan to continue it indefinitely.
“We offer several flexible annual golf plans for those who want to play more often,” he says, “or they can choose a pay-to-play method with greens fees that average about $25 per round, cart included. Either way, it’s a great deal for our members, especially given the quality of our courses.”
He notes that adding to that value is SLV’s unofficial “third course” at nearby Hickory Knob State Park, which features its own 18-hole lakeside layout that’s one of South Carolina’s best public golf courses.
It’s not all about golf
Along with the Tara and Monticello courses and their respective full-service clubhouse facilities, Wooldridge oversees the operation of the other amenities at Savannah Lakes Village. “Our goal here has been to make the tagline ‘Something for Everyone’ a reality,” he says. “We have a complete fitness center, with an array of equipment and classes, and we’re looking to expand those facilities as demand increases.
We also have four clay tennis courts, six pickleball courts, walking and biking paths, a disc golf course, a bowling alley, bocce ball, outdoor pools, and a 25-meter in- door pool that’s been recently remodeled. Our clubhouses host a year-round calendar of social events, and we have more than 60 social and activity clubs for just about everything from wine tastings to water aerobics. And let’s not forget about the lake and the community docks. Our kayakers have hundreds of coves to explore, and our boaters enjoy some of the best freshwater fishing in this part of the country.”
SLV residents also have convenient access to more than 100 miles of hiking trails in the 63,000 acres of state parks and national forest that surround the community. Shopping and professional services are available in the nearby town of McCormick, as well as the cities of Greenwood, SC, and Augusta, GA, both of which are about 30 minutes away.
“At Savannah Lakes Village,” Wooldridge concludes, “we have our own version of that famous line from the movie Field of Dreams. We believe that if we build it—and provide quality and value—then ‘they will come.’ And come they have in recent years. Our growth has been unprecedented, and with growth means more vibrant participation. This is a very special time to be a member at Savannah Lakes Village.”