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Old South Golf Links going strong after 20 years

Scott Adams didn't just take a job at Old South Golf Links 20 years ago; he helped build the golf course that he now runs today. So it's with the pride of a father that the general manager and his staff will celebrate the Bluffton golf course's 20th birthday the first week of November.

Along with a dedicated group of more than 20 investors and Hilton Head-based architect Clyde Johnston, Adams was part of the team that opened Old South in 1991. Today, he manages a dedicated staff that oversees the reigning Lowcountry Golf Course Owners Association Golf Course of the Year, which has proven a two-decade long success story.

"When you build a golf course it's like having a child," Adams said. "When I first got here there wasn't even a road from 278 to the course. I remember using a bush hog to clear the way. Honest to God I don't know how they would ever get me out of here."

It's a sentiment shared by Old South's current staff that will join with past employees and many of the course's original investors for an anniversary celebration on Friday, Nov. 4. The bash will include a golf tournament and an oyster roast party to follow. The golf tournament is also open to the public, which has supported and frequented Old South consistently for the past 20 years.

"It's going to be a fun atmosphere and a chance to thank all the golfers who have supported us and all the great employees we have had over the years," Adams said. "They've all been such an important part of our success here."

In a difficult time for golf courses both locally and nationally, successful and consistent are two really appropriate ways to describe Old South throughout its existence. In fact, from its very opening, Old South has been a Lowcountry golf success story. Located next door to Hilton Head National and just steps from the bridge to Hilton Head Island, Old South opened in 1991 and in 1992 was named to Golf Digest's list of Top 10 New Public Courses.

That distinction was a harbinger of things to come for Old South and was bookended this year with its recognition as course of the year by the owners group for the first time in its history.

"The (Golf Digest) award gave us instant credibility," Adams said. "And since we worked hard to make sure the course is always in good shape and to have a staff that makes our visitors feel welcome."

Given the challenging shot-maker's design and its scenic Lowcountry beauty, Old South has more than earned its accolades and popularity with both visiting and local golfers. The layout features several holes that run along breathtaking marsh areas, including the three-hole closings to both the front and back nines that provide plenty of memorable moments. In fact, most who have played the layout would rank the last three holes on each nine as six of the best holes in southern Beaufort County.

"When we were building the course I was worried we were making it too tough with some of the finishing holes," Adams said. "I remember looking at 16 from the back tees and thinking, 'Who can hit all the way over that hazard?' But there's no doubt those holes are a big part of what makes this course so much fun."

Along with a dedicated and welcoming staff, those holes are also the reason Old South has been such a popular destination for visiting players and a home for those golfers that make Beaufort County theirs. Indeed, the layout's ability to play dual roles as memorable resort golf course and favorite home course for locals has helped it manage a difficult economy and golf's stagnant status.

Finding success, or even surviving, today's golf industry is no easy task. It takes a commitment to every aspect of the business and, at times, making financial sacrifices to stay the course. At Old South this has been the business plan since day one. It's the reason the course and its staff will celebrate on Nov. 4. It's also the reason Scott Adams is one proud papa right now.

For more information on the Nov. 4 Old South 20th Anniversary Golf Tournament, call Jim Uremovich at 785-5353. Cost is $50 per player.