Friday, May 17, 2013
It’s high tide at six a.m. and I am looking out over the tidal marshes of Ralston Creek on the edge of a fairway at Daniel Island Golf Club.
The neon green of cypress trees contrasts with the deep emerald glow of magnolias in the soft light of false dawn as they stand sentinel along freshwater ponds and lagoons. Flashes of bright blue and red dart in and out of the bushes and trees; numerous birds are eager for the day to get underway.
Uncharacteristically, several deer are peering out of the darkness - normally they bound off when a human comes anywhere close in proximity. I come upon a hollow in which a fawn has been sleeping. Blinking sleep out of bleary eyes, it approaches me to nuzzle at my knee.
As I raise my camera it suddenly realizes that I might not be its mother, so it backs up, shakes its head and looks up at me again. Bleating indignantly it hastens a retreat, but over-sized legs get tangled and soon it takes a spill and tumbles in the grass. Quickly back to its feet, it melts off into the wood with the others who await. Were it not for the photos I had taken of the episode, I might not have been sure it happened.
Designed by Rees Jones and opened in 2006, this course feels like it has been here many decades. Centuries old live oaks draped with Spanish moss dot the fairways, and many recently planted trees will provide the same majestic beauty for generations to come. Where there are houses they are buffered from the course by green areas and ponds, and the ample cart paths and bridges are all in meticulously good repair as is everything else on the course.
Much of the course is open to the east and north, with banks of gnarled scrub oaks and palmettos overlooking Ralston Creek toward the Wando River. In several spots you can see for miles out across the tidal estuaries dotted with undisturbed islands and atolls.
All manner of ocean life makes its way into these creeks – a few months ago the GPS tracking locator on a two ton great white shark showed it visited these creeks.
The management at Daniel Island recently did the work necessary to become an Audubon Certified Sanctuary. In order to obtain this, certain standards must be met. These extend to water conservation and quality management, wildlife and habitat management, outreach and educational programs and reduction of chemical usage.
The efforts show as this has become a pristine example of what attracts us all to reside here in the Lowcountry. And you do not have to be a resident of Daniel Island to join the golf club. Mount Pleasant residents can join as well, and there is a National Membership program available that includes discounted accommodations for those living more than 75 miles away.
David Emch is a Mount Pleasant resident who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.