Offering limited tee times to non-members, the Windermere Club in Blythewood, S.C. has given local golfers a rare opportunity to play a private course at a reasonable rate and enjoy an acclaimed design by Pete Dye and his son, P.B. Like so many Dye courses, Windermere leaves players with distinct memories of several holes.
"Best inward stretch of holes in the Columbia area, with standouts including the deepest bunker I’ve ever been in on No. 10, a driveable par 4 at No. 14 and a closing stretch of holes playing toward, and alongside, a lake," wrote u000005548716, of Columbia, at GolfNow.com. "Also worth mentioning is No. 9, a par-3 with an 180-yard, do-or-die carry over a pond. For those looking to experience a Pete Dye design without the resort costs, Windermere is a perfect outing."
Located 15 miles northeast of Columbia along I-77, Windermere is easily accessed. The course -- established in 1987 as the centerpiece of a gated, upscale housing development -- is built around Lake Windermere, traversing rolling, wooded land. It stretches 6,970 yards from the back tees, playing to a rating of 74.0 and a slope of 141.
"It has some very challenging holes with a fair amount of hazards that make for a great round of golf," wrote garwacki1, of Columbia. "There is a great balance of long and short par 4s and the par 5s can be reached with strong shots. Bent greens and wide fairways make this layout fun and approachable for all skill levels. ... This course presents a distinct character that will bring golfers back multiple times."
In the golf course-rich area of Columbia, competition is stiff. According to Windermere owner and General Manager John Bakhaus, two military courses in the city are wooing non-military members. Windermere’s membership, once more than 150, has fallen to 120, making it advantageous for the club to make tee times available to the public.
With a GolfNow.com player rating of 3.9, Windermere ranks with the top courses in the area. Ratings were significantly higher until this spring when the club’s lone rough mower broke down and course conditions declined. The timing was unfortunate, affecting the shape of Windermere leading up to and after the 2013 Masters when many out-of-towners played.
Windermere has since ironed out its maintenance issues, and the course is receiving rave reviews once again, such as this from tkeels, who played on June 14.
"Staff was very friendly and gave a lot of info about the course," he wrote at GolfNow.com. "The course layout is very scenic with lots of water views. Greens are a deal breaker for me, and these were top notch and well-maintained. Totally would recommend this course and will be going back soon when the opportunity presents itself."
With weekend rates topping out at $60.50, Windermere is an attractive value, offering a country club atmosphere and an elite design that appeals to discerning players.
"The greens offered very quick but challenging putts. The rolling hillsides around the greens require some very tricky lofted shots to make par," wrote Abenzin, of Columbia. "I would rate this course more for the mid- to low-handicapper for a more enjoyable round.