Woodside PlantationREAL ESTATE

Golf real estate options still booming at South Carolina's Woodside Plantation

By Brandon Tucker,
Senior Writer

AIKEN, S.C. - More than two decades after the founding of Woodside Plantation in Aiken, S.C., the upscale retirement and golf community continues to boom, with new homes and a fourth championship golf course on the way.

"There are 78 million people retiring, and they're not staying in Michigan," said Patrick Conning, CEO at Woodside Plantation. "They want to come south, and the city of Aiken is a big part of what we offer."

The historic town is 17 miles east of Augusta, Ga., and 56 miles west of South Carolina's capitol, Columbia. Nineteenth-century Charlestonians came to escape lowland malaria outbreaks, and the Confederacy's last Civil War victory was won here.

Aiken remains a classic Southern retreat, with a thriving equestrian culture and polo matches every Sunday (a tradition that dates to 1882). The city center is full of sidewalk cafes, antique shops and arts and entertainment options.

Located about 10 minutes from downtown, Woodside Plantation has steadily grown since its founding in 1986. Today it consists of nearly 3,000 acres of upscale neighborhoods offering a variety of housing options set amid quiet forests.

Despite the real-estate slowdown striking most U.S. markets, officials here say units are still moving. Woodside sold about 25 units last year just to Floridians looking to move inland (Aiken is about three hours from the Atlantic coast).

"We call them 'half-backs,'" Conning said. "They want to move away from the hurricanes in Florida but don't want to go north. So they come here."

Designed to cater especially to retirees, this private gated community is building its own 100-acre village filled with shopping and services. Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics and the American Cancer Society have bases nearby, giving residents plenty of opportunity to get involved in good works. The local group Women of Woodside also pursues a variety of philanthropic missions.

There are three golf courses, with a fourth to come, along with an Olympic-sized pool, tennis courts, croquet and other recreational facilities.

Woodside Plantation golf

Woodside Planatation Country Club sports Rees Jones and Bob Cupp courses, and The Reserve Club is a Jack Nicklaus design. All are set on rugged, heavily wooded land, a far cry from the coastal terrain east and south of Aiken. Memberships are available along with the real estate.

The Reserve ClubGolf Digest rated The Reserve Club one of America's 10 best private courses upon its 2003 opening. It isn't Nicklaus at his most penal - the greens are less heavily guarded as on his more sinister designs - and a handful of elevated tee shots allow for long drives and scenic vistas.

A fourth championship course, Hollow Creek at The Reserve, is under construction. The Clyde Johnston/Fuzzy Zoeller design will be the centerpiece of a new residential community.

Johnston said Hollow Creek will differ from the other Woodside Plantation courses, with its own bunker styles and wider corridors so that the housing encroaches less. While the track will cater to the largely senior population, the designer said the finishing holes will be dramatic.

"You have to be aware of who is going to be playing your course," Johnston said. "But I've already warned the members it's going to be a tough finish."

Ten holes are scheduled to debut this fall, with the grand opening planned to coincide with the 2009 Masters just down the road.

If you go

Woodside Plantation
1419 Silver Bluff Road
Aiken, SC
Tel: (800) 648-3052

May 23, 2007

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.

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