“Smoke on the Water” at Patriot’s Point Golf Links

  • Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sunrise on the 17th hole at Patriots Point Gold Links.


An early morning thick fog shrouds Mount Pleasant as I wander a path that travels along the harbor, through lagoons and by tidal marshes. Occasionally the deep resonance of a fog-horn breaks the stillness. Pre-dawn light begins filtering through the mist and visibility increases to a few hundred feet. Trees and ponds as well as bunkers and greens materialize, then fade into obscurity. Ibis, egret, heron, turtles and alligators share the lagoon’s shores as Merganser, Bufflehead, Coots and Teals float placidly along. The spiky outline of palmettos contrasts with the graceful and sweeping lines of weeping willows and knotty contour of gums. Cedars proudly display their fullness amongst their kin who stand naked of their summer plumage. The staccato hammering of a woodpecker seeking breakfast pierces the quiet as ibis float overhead, their wings thrumming the mutual joy of flight.

Quickly the fog gives way to the sun’s advance leaving tendrils of mist on the lagoons that for a magical moment come ablaze with the refraction of the crimson sunrise. The outriggers of Shem Creek’s shrimp trawlers materialize, pointing skyward as if to beckon the coming day. Across the harbor, the antebellum homes of East Bay Street provide a backdrop for Castle Pinckney, where prisoners of “the most insolent and insubordinate disposition” were housed during the civil war. A Coast Guard Cutter knifes past a freighter bearing merchandise from distant shores. Next Fort Sumter emerges, which was constructed on 70,000 tons of granite imported at great expense from New England in the 1830s. And finally, the beacons of the Sullivan’s Island and Morris Island lighthouses appear on the horizon, perhaps obsolete with today’s technology but still bearing a warm welcome to those arriving by sea from distant shores.

This is Mount Pleasant’s Patriot’s Point Golf Links, whose half mile of well groomed shoreline along Charleston Harbor lies in the shadow of the Ravenel Bridge and is open to the public. Twenty-three-year employee Dan McKelvey is setting up the flag positions on the greens for the day. “This is my meditation – this is my home” says McKelvey. He speaks of many others who love this place – and especially fondly of a few that made it their eternal home by having their ashes mingled with the soil of the 17th hole’s island green. He proudly talks about participation in the 1st Tee Program, which uses golf as a platform to teach young people character building and life skills lessons. General Manager Brad Parker stated “We take pride in offering our customers a memorable experience as they play golf through this protected wildlife area and are treated to stunning views of both historic and modern icons of Charleston, from the forts and downtown Charleston to the modern harbor traffic and the Ravenel Bridge.” I don’t know how the other golfers did this day, but my camera easily scored “birdies” on every hole. And it all is surprisingly affordable with seasonal rates for residents a mere $35 - $60.

“Patriot’s Point’s true value to the community lies in its accessibility and diversity” stated Mac Burdette, executive director of Patriot’s Point, owner of the land. “There is something for everyone here.” It is this author’s personal hope that we remain good stewards of this place and allow future generations the opportunity for this same experience.

It would be travesty indeed if we ever succumbed to those voices who lust for their name to be emblazoned on yet another structure of concrete and steel.

Author and photographer David Emch is a Mount Pleasant resident who specializes in the creation and restoration of fine art. His art framing and printing business brings your favorite photographic images to life in acrylic on canvas and framed or stretched as a “wrap.” He also specializes in restoring your existing artwork. For a free in-home consultation he can be reached by email at DavidEmch@comcast.net or by phone at (843) 276-9096.

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