Tottering on the brink of closure six years ago, Orangeburg Country Club received a last-minute reprieve and – following the renovation work of Richard Mandell, ASGCA – now ranks No. 1 in the Midlands Region in the South Carolina Golf Course Rating Panel’s “Best You Can Play” balloting.
As reported by Columbia, South Carolina’s The State:
“We were literally a week away from shutting our doors,” director of golf David Lackey says in recalling the dark days created by the national economic downturn in 2008. Membership had dwindled and debt had accelerated into the $800,000-$900,000 range.
Industrialist Frank Tourville, a member whose home is adjacent to the club, came to the rescue. He assumed the club’s debt and committed $1.5 million for capital improvements. The latter amount grew to what Lackey calls “more substantial,” and the results show money well spent.
Orangeburg jumped from unranked to No. 45 in the rating panel’s 2014 “Top 50 overall” survey and, a year later, is rated the Midlands’ best thanks to the financial commitment and the restoration work of architect Richard Mandell. The renovation plans initially called for improvements in bunkering, tees and irrigation for the layout designed in 1961 by Ellis Maples, but old aerial photos provided a spur to include the greens.
“The course was worn around the edges,” Lackey said. “Our superintendent (Tom Green) had done a fantastic job of doing more with less, but the course still needed a jump start.
“Once we got into the project, the aerial photos showed how much the greens had shrunk over the years. Mr. Tourville said, ‘I’m going to do this only one time and we’re going to do it right,’ and so the plans were expanded.”
“(Tourville) wanted the best golf course in South Carolina and that fueled me,” Mandell says. “He said, ‘If it’s worth restoring, let’s do it right,’ and that was our goal.”
Maples’ basic design remains, and the biggest change involve the 14th hole. Trees had matured over the years, turning the straight-away par-4 into a severe dogleg right.
“Great for a slice, but not the way the hole was intended,” Lackey says. “We took out 50 to 75 trees and I had reservations about that. But a straight (tee) shot is back in play, and (Mandell) moved a fairway bunker toward the middle. The changes made the hole.”
Mandell began his work in early July, 2009, and the club reopened four months later to rave reviews.
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