While globetrotting and rediscovering America, we have stumbled upon one of the country’s most super natural spots, Oconee, SC. Oconee is the Cherokee word for “land beside the water” and Oconee County, South Carolina has plenty of beautiful land and water indeed, including Cross Creek Plantation Golf and Lake Jocassee, one of three lovely lakes that supply power to Duke Energy. And then there’s the Chatooga River where Deliverance was filmed for the sheer beauty. You can climb down the path to a point of class 4 rapids. Every little treasure spot seems so mesmerizing that we could imagine sitting there all day long.
The Cross Creek Plantation Golf Club in Seneca is private yet closed on Mondays for charity tournaments and is available for prospective members to try. The day we visited, a fun group of lady members were playing “beat the pro” with Director of Golf and GM, Mark Ernst, father of Austen, the LPGA pro. Guess where she played growing up. Any junior on a team plays for free at Cross Creek. Owner Al Shadwick says, “It was built for kids, after all.”
The kid was he actually. When his entrepreneurial dad Jack saw his talent and interest in the game, he brought in PB Dye to build a championship venue in Seneca. The pairing fit since Dye’s wife was from Seneca. They weaved a track through nature, crossing 3 creeks, hence the name. Al noted, “This is what Augusta looked like in the 60s and 70s, not like the astro turf appearance with hand manicured azaleas today.” The azaleas on Cross Creek are quite pretty in April as well and Tom Grundy the superintendent keeps the grounds in good shape while he is supervised by his famous dog, Doc.
Now Al, who inherited the business genes and has worked all over the globe, coaches the middle school girls’ golf team where his daughter plays. Al was one of the first students of the David Leadbetter school and carries the torch for a country club community that is missing. He believes the socialization aspect has slipped. Cross Creek reinforces mentoring the kids when they come along.
Large lots serve beautiful vistas for custom homes and new patio homes start at $230k with a nice course view. New stay and play packages are available for 2, 4, 8, and 12 that includes a 2-night stay at the Lodge at Dove Valley, a short golf cart ride from the clubhouse. The lodge is tucked away in 53 acres of privacy, equipped with full indoor and outdoor kitchens, heated private swimming pool, billiards and shuffleboard tables, firepit, xbox game system, and other activities to make the stay memorable and inviting. Packages by Cope Property Management include the lodge, 2 rounds of golf per guest, and lunch at the Bogey Bar and Grill both days to demonstrate truly affordable luxury. Chef Christian delights members and guests with a varied menu. He invented the Clemson Blue cheese.
Homeowners might join the boat club and rent a slip on one of the Oconee lakes or rentals are available. The gorgeous Lake Jocasse was ranked #9 on National Geographic’s Top 50 lakes list. We absolutely loved our pontoon tour day on this 7,500-acre waterworld. If you open and close your eyes while sailing over the water, you might think you are on Thousand Islands’ St. Lawrence Seaway but then you see the Blue Ridge Mountain backdrop and the umpteen waterfalls that are all so spectacular, so uniquely special in their melodic composition of rushing currents over rocks, among dogwood trees and cursing through gorges. There are so many spots to stop and hike through the woods or over a suspension bridge.
A checkered cloth thrown over a picnic table on shore makes for a special lunch as hikers walk by from the 76 miles of Foothills Trail. We witnessed eagles flying to their oversized tree top nests and then there were the ducks and the loons, with webbed feet on their backs for a different propelling strategy. So many sites and stories on Jocassee create surreal moments to last a lifetime. The folks at Visit Oconee SC have a seriously fun mission to enlighten travelers to a world that delivers southern hospitality and outdoor satisfaction at every level. How about over 290 waterfalls, 29 with trails? It is fantasy land for real.