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Jake Marvin

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Coming out of the woodwork to post a quick photo tour of a club in South Carolina whose thorough renovation I managed to hear almost nothing about until the course reopened last fall. The course will surely rank somewhere among the state's crowded top 20 once more have been able to visit it.


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Quixote Club - Sumter, SC - Kris Spence and Jack Nicklaus Jr. - 2020





I play plenty of golf. However, insofar as it is necessary and/or socially required to keep other hobbies for a bit of balance, I am and always have been a reader of novels. The bookcase behind my desktop is lined two deep with spines reading Steinbeck, Waugh, Vonnegut ad infinitum, and David Foster Wallace weighs down my coffee table with an airline napkin stuck in at page 250 as it has for most of a year. Itís May in the Carolinas, though, so naturally itís time to put away the books and hit the course. How serendipitous, then, that one can set easily set out from Charlotte and enjoy the nexus of fine golf and high literature* right where he naturally expects to find it: Sumter, South Carolina.

*with potential apologies to Sleepy Hollow




The Sumter in question has little besides a namesake in common with the more notorious operation in Charleston Harbor. Situated a couple of hours northwest, this Sumter hosts around 40,000 residents. Although it has been known for textile and manufacturing industries and for the Shaw Air Force Base just outside town, its high crime rate and location well removed from the nearest interstate have conspired to bring Sumter many of the symptoms plaguing rural America more generally. A pair of concerned citizens named Greg and Lewis Thompson aim to use their platform as successful born-and-bred entrepreneurs to raise the city up. Alongside a main-street revitalization involving a restaurant and brewing company, the Thompsons have championed the formation of a charter school which aims to serve three thousand regional students and encourage local public schools to improve their performance. Part of the support for the charter school comes from the dues of the golf club the Thompsons have bought and rebuilt in order to drive national members and their accomplices into town. The whole plan may seem a bit far-fetched, perhaps even unlikely to succeed. Maybe the brothers have been caught dreaming. They acknowledge this, and thus they welcome golfers to the Quixote Club, named and themed after the famed character who ďdared to dream an impossible dream.Ē This is the most generous possible interpretation of Quixote, but I digress.

If youíd like to read more about the broader project, take a second: http://www.editionduo.com/publication/?i=699256&article_id=3968924&view=articleBrowser&ver=html5 . Iíll leave the debate over the viability of the club model to the side for now to instead focus on a solid course which has gotten relatively little attention compared to many of the full-scale remodels which have debuted in the past couple of years.

The predecessor of Quixote is Sunset Country Club, an old local country club of the type possessed by every regional town of this size. Dated clubhouse, an interesting routing getting a bit overgrown and unloved. Extra points for participating in the great tradition of Carolinas golf that is lying about being a Donald Ross course. When the Thompsons acquired the course it was in serious need of a makeover, and they assembled the team of Kris Spence and Jack Nicklaus Jr. to run the show. My understanding is that Spence was the chief and this seems to be the most free reign he has gotten to express his own architectural and aesthetic sensibilities. He benefited from a sandy property with a gentle central ridge running roughly across holes 2, 11, 12, 13, and 16 in the routing below. On either side of this main macro feature of the land are a pair of lakes which were largely improvised; the west portion of the south lake guarded a couple holes of the old routing, but it was dug out far to the east and a new lake was constructed on the north side. The latter lake is the major change to the front nine considering the same playing corridors were used. The back side hosts the most wholesale changes, using a combination of reversed corridors, new corridors and previously wooded portions of the property as its canvas. The final routing is below, and from here out, Iíll allow the photos to do more of the talking.






« Last Edit: June 01, 2022, 12:30:03 PM by Jake Marvin »
Surely the most geriatric 23-year-old on the planet.

What's next? Olde Mill - Primland - Diamond Creek - Linville - Elk River - a dozen gratuitous Doak 2s in between

Jake Marvin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Tilting at Windmills - A Quick Photo Tour of QUIXOTE CLUB
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2022, 12:29:18 PM »
Quixote Club / Par 70 / 6843 / 6250 / 5902 / 5315

Hole 1 / 4 / 430 / 412 / 392 / 374




The course begins in the shadow of the clubhouse on a broad lawn. The teeing ground runs left around a pond whose coming into play would be quite a bad omen for the rest of the day. I quite enjoyed the simplicity of the courseís fixtures: the tee markers include a single black stake for the tips, two pairs of beige rocks, and a red stake to mark the forward tees. No hole markers, no garbage cans, and a single windmill signalling to carts to leave the fairway on each hole.


 

 The hole bends left around two bunkers, the first of which can be cleared by a strong drive. Spence shows that skilled players can be challenged in ways other than addtional length: as players move back the trees on the right intrude more and ask the player to move the ball gently right to find the center of the fairway.


 
 

A fine introduction to a set of greens which are often perched above the surrounding fairway, feature subtle tiering and an abundance of Sunday pin possibilities.


Hole 2 / 4 / 459 / 426 / 402 / 350




Enough golf for the second hole of the day, the second bends slightly right and plays to a large, bunkerless green which starts at grade and rises such that any miss long is troublesome. This is the only bunkerless hole on the course.


Hole 3 / 4 / 336 / 315 / 308 / 275





One of the best short par fours Iíve seen in a while. The new lake adds great playing interest to the hole and defines several options off the tee. The teeing ground is large and flexibility exists to move the box around to alter the risk-reward characteristics. Quixote would be as fun a course as any to play a horse-style match play where the winner picks the next tee location.





From further up the fairway, the options are more evident: go straight for the green, aim for the bunkers and strike it 230, or spray it out left at your preferred distance. Although the two bunkers seem to be neighbors, there is actually significant room between them to land a tee shot. However, any ball hit to this distance requires an awkward flip wedge over a bunker to a green which tends to dump balls into the water behind.


Hole 4 / 4 / 192 / 172 / 155 / 130


 
 

An intense mid-length par three played over the lake. In another example of fine shaping, the bunkers are built to look as though they sit against the green when there is really about ten yards of short grass between them.
A fun alternate tee exists well left of the third green. This makes the shot much shorter but rotates the angle by about thirty degrees such that the shot is played more directly over the lake.


Hole 5 / 4 / 366 / 334 / 316 / 290


 
 

A short par four requiring technical excellence. A three wood or three iron is needed to reach the elbow of the dogleg.


 
 

An alternate tee tucked even further into the corner of the property makes the margin for error even slimmer. I would not use this tee for stroke play, but it could make for a fun match shot.




From the fairway, a short iron must be struck precisely to hit and hold a small elevated green which reminds me of several greens at Seminole. One wonders if it worse to play from one the four bunkers or to chip from the tightly-mown surrounds.




Hole 6 / 4 / 450 / 407 / 387 / 357





The challenge off the sixth tee is to hit a drive long enough or left enough to take a short but absolutely sprawling tree out of play. As one can discern from the photos, I took this advice past its usefulness and created other problems. The rest of the hole plays along the lake to a large and fairly placid green.





Another interesting feature scattered across the course are the small elliptical bunkers like the one I accidentally found here. They are somewhat maintained and filled with softer sand than the hard-packed material around it. Thanks to the shallow nature of the hazards, they are not exceedingly difficult to play from and they do not stand out from their surroundings, but they add to the variety of recovery shots needed to ace this course.
Surely the most geriatric 23-year-old on the planet.

What's next? Olde Mill - Primland - Diamond Creek - Linville - Elk River - a dozen gratuitous Doak 2s in between

Jake Marvin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Tilting at Windmills - A Quick Photo Tour of QUIXOTE CLUB
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2022, 12:41:51 PM »
Hole 7 / 5 / 595 / 547 / 531 / 442




The first of only two par fives, this holeís challenge comes primarily from its length. The drive is straightforward and any ball in the fairway should easily clear this not-quite-great-hazard (good hazard?) on the second shot.


Note the cart arrows directing drivers right through the hazard. Similar to those at Tobacco Road, Quixoteís cart paths often run directly through waste bunkering and this creates a variety of sand lies across the course.


 


The hole plays to a green in a quiet corner of the property and care must be taken to avoid long shots which may bound into the trees and bush which edge the course.


Hole 8 / 3 / 179 / 152 / 138 / 115





Considering the first three par threes (including the eventual twelfth) play to similar distances, the grounds crew relies on wind and the daily setup of tees and pins to ensure a variety of shots is needed to attack the par threes. On a day with a breeze from the south, I played seven iron with the wind, five iron into it, and nine iron against a helping cross to attack the three holes.

Hole 9 / 4 / 486 / 436 / 412 / 376

The ninth is wide, but it is a beast. Similar to the first hole, a tree is positioned to influence the drive. This time, it comes in from the left and it is more intrusive. I donít find the tree to be necessary on a 490-yard hole, but I am of course the biased owner of a swing which refuses to go left.





The fairway runs out to and against the east boundary and plays to a green surprisingly unadorned by sandy waste. The undulation in this photo is one of the best features on a course which encourages the ground game and punishes the attempts it finds lacking. Many players will be pitching from thirty to sixty yards on a hole of this length and the angled ridge is both an obstacle and a means to working the ball close.


Hole 10 / 4 / 368 / 354 / 342 / 325





A beguiling par four where driver is not the answer. The fairway is sizable, but shots closer to the trees on the left are preferred in order to attach a very tricky green.





The average player sees so few greens which fall away from him that the shot is more frightening than it needs to be. That said, going after right pins without making use of the slope is one of the stupider things one can do at Quixote. This is a ticket to a chip up a steep slope from the basin between the first and tenth greens.





These small traps are all that separate the green from the next tee box. Tight transitions abound and the walk is a pleasure as a result. Sidebar, I happened to visit the day before a U.S. Senior Am qualifier, an event which is apparently a bat-signal for a whoís who of regional club pros and directors of golf. That one of the gentlemen seen testing a hole location in the above fired a 71 the next day answers the question of who played the part of Sancho Panza on this adventure.


Hole 11 / 4 / 422 / 406 / 375 / 352




The second hole of the back nine plays in a similar direction as the second hole of the front. The drive is fairly unencumbered and the goal is to set up the shortest approach possible to a perched green. Only distant trees are visible beyond the green and the left side falls away considerably, making this one of the touchier approach shots on the course.


Hole 12 / 3 / 176 / 150 / 138 / 124





Since this is one of the more scenic holes, it is only logical that I didnít get a photo from the tee. The par three plays slightly downhill to a green you best not miss: a cart path bunker hugs the left of the green as does a waste area down the right. Short is really the only miss from which a save is reasonably likely.
Surely the most geriatric 23-year-old on the planet.

What's next? Olde Mill - Primland - Diamond Creek - Linville - Elk River - a dozen gratuitous Doak 2s in between

Jake Marvin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Tilting at Windmills - A Quick Photo Tour of QUIXOTE CLUB
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2022, 12:54:39 PM »
Hole 13 / 5 / 544 / 466 / 429 / 401




Most players have decent chance to make it to the green complex in two, but only a perfect and, honestly, a very lucky shot will hit and hold this green from range. In addition to a shallow green which falls into front and back bunkers, a tree imposes from the left side 75 yards from the green. Thus, only a well-shaped shot has a chance and most players would be wise to lay back to a comfortable number.





Looking out over the green, one can see the fourteenth tee shot on the far right and the complex of fifteen green and sixteen tee more central. The property generally falls away from this spot.





Hole 14 / 4 / 446 / 410 / 392 / 325




Fourteen offers a wide fairway and length is the most important issue on this long par four. That said, a better angle is available to players who challenge the right bunker and property line. Tons of grass is available around this green and a variety of recovery shots can be played to correct for poor iron play.





Hole 15 / 4 / 397 / 360 / 338 / 316





Although the left bunker is in play and a bad place to be, the right bunker is out of reach for the majority and serves as a good target on this uphill par four. Right is much better than left considering trees will block out the majority of shots on that side.


Hole 16 / 4 / 329 / 309 / 283 / 270




Sixteen is the last gettable hole on the course, and the shortest par four of the day. Moreover, with a lack of penalty-stroke trouble, players feel free to open the stance and swing. The worst place to be is in the scruff to the right; this is some of the thickest grass on the course.





One of my partners played a five wood, another a three wood, and I hit driver. Really, anything above a five iron may be the answer here. The green features a lionís mouth bunker and the left tongue is the toughest portion to access.





Some of the most interesting microcontours on the course are found on sixteen and the green is wild. All fitting for a nice short four.


Hole 17 / 3 / 218 / 196 / 178 / 162





The fight to the finish begins with a long par three over water. The green is large and accepting, but with a long iron in hand itís hard to be too confident standing over the shot. All grass at Quixote is fairway height, meaning a ball which lands on the green may well find its way down to the water.





A separate tee lower and to the right makes the hole more angled and brings the water more into play for right hole locations. In fact, as the below shows, this could just as easily be played from the fifteenth fairway at a ninety-degree angle.





Hole 18 / 4 / 450 / 398 / 386 / 331





The finisher begins with an angled tee shot over the lake. Day to day, the ideal line fluctuates based on tee placement, but the bunker in the center of the fairway is a good place to default to. The fairway slopes down to the lake, and this becomes more severe towards the green. Intelligent players can use the slopes short and left to work the ball towards tough back right locations. The approach is likely a long one, and a par to end the day is all but guaranteed to satisfy.
 
Final Thoughts


Quixote Club features a strong golf course which overshadows its predecessor by a mile. I doubt that it will draw the world to Sumter, but anyone in the region would do well to make a trip. It is rare indeed to see something unique in golf. Here, the player encounters several such occasions, including the superlative third hole, the hidden sand traps baked into the waste, and truly exceptional tie-in work between many of the holes. One could make the argument that Spence has maximized the potential of a fine but not great piece of land. Combined with a nice clubhouse (which features the local breweryís best work) and forthcoming additions, the work has given members something to be proud of. I think the course will slot in somewhere in South Carolinaís top twenty courses, and while the project as a whole is bit quixotic, for lack of a better term, the club itself looks set for better days.
Surely the most geriatric 23-year-old on the planet.

What's next? Olde Mill - Primland - Diamond Creek - Linville - Elk River - a dozen gratuitous Doak 2s in between

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Tilting at Windmills - A Quick Photo Tour of QUIXOTE CLUB
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2022, 02:07:19 PM »
Jake


Well done in posting and putting together the tour. I get what you say about it not likely to bring the world to Sumter and certainly having just gone through Jon C's photo tour of Fishers Island, Quixote does look a bit two tone with white sand and mono-shade of green.


However I love that the waste bunkers provide a different texture, and better playing experience than hacking out of rough and while there doesn't look to be a whole lot of elevational change, the architect has put some in where it counts.


I think I'd probably be very happy to have this as my local course.


Niall

Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Tilting at Windmills - A Quick Photo Tour of QUIXOTE CLUB
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2022, 05:45:39 PM »
Iím playing there next week. From your pictures I am looking forward to it.
Tom Williamsen
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Tilting at Windmills - A Quick Photo Tour of QUIXOTE CLUB
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2022, 03:16:12 AM »
Thanks for the tour Jake. The course looks pretty interesting given the flat site. I like the look of 9 and 16!

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Tilting at Windmills - A Quick Photo Tour of QUIXOTE CLUB
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2022, 04:29:03 AM »
Thanks Jake.
Takes a lot of effort to post a photo-tour so well done.
Particularly like the fairway direct to waste area type sand and the lack of lower branches on the trees.
Atb

Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Tilting at Windmills - A Quick Photo Tour of QUIXOTE CLUB
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2022, 03:21:54 PM »
I like the natural waste areas but the bunkers themselves are less than attractive and out of place given the natural sand of the place. Are they as unattractive in person?
Tom Williamsen
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

Marty Bonnar

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Re: Tilting at Windmills - A Quick Photo Tour of QUIXOTE CLUB
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2022, 04:48:04 PM »
Just want to say I like the Man of La Mancha ref.
Nice,
F.
Assembled in Michigan from foreign parts.

PCCraig

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Tilting at Windmills - A Quick Photo Tour of QUIXOTE CLUB
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2022, 09:55:56 AM »
Jake -


Nice job on the photo tour.


As I moved through it I wasn't overly excited after the first few holes but the 4th got my attention. Some interesting looking architecture out there. Don't love the artificial looking ponds but a necessary evil in South Carolina I suppose.


Overall, looks like a nice course to call home![size=78%] [/size]
H.P.S.

Jake Marvin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Tilting at Windmills - A Quick Photo Tour of QUIXOTE CLUB
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2022, 07:03:11 AM »
Interesting thoughts on the colors. Tommy, I didn't notice the bunkers to be distracting while I played and I think the photos may be making the contrast between the natural sand and the bunkers appear worse than it is. You can tell for yourself once you've played. The general monochrome is something the grow-in period is still correcting - it takes more than a year for natural areas to become natural again, and there are many areas the club is allowing to grow in where the grass is still pretty wispy (i.e. off the tee on 16). Once more of that comes in and more pine straw establishes itself, hopefully the course is a bit more colorful.


Agree with the sentiment that it's a good members' course. Easily walkable, you shouldn't lose more than a couple balls, and there's a good variety of shots to explore from round to round. Overall a good win for the area of South Carolina between the coast and the I-85 corridor where there's not much golf of any interest.
Surely the most geriatric 23-year-old on the planet.

What's next? Olde Mill - Primland - Diamond Creek - Linville - Elk River - a dozen gratuitous Doak 2s in between

Tommy Williamsen

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Tilting at Windmills - A Quick Photo Tour of QUIXOTE CLUB
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2022, 08:36:27 PM »
Played it today. It is a complete redesign. Spence kept the playing corridors of the front nine but blew up the back nine. The back nine is very strong. It has some very wonderful green complexes and played very fast and firm. The greens will reject anything but a well struck ball. They also cut down 3200 trees. The clubhouse is really nice. It will be a great club for the area and their support of creating a charter school is a wonderful way to give back to the community.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2022, 10:11:26 PM by Tommy Williamsen »
Tom Williamsen
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

Edward Glidewell

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Tilting at Windmills - A Quick Photo Tour of QUIXOTE CLUB
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2022, 10:09:24 PM »
I'm hoping to play there in early July -- the photos look very fun.

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