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  • Wes Kerr

Congaree enjoying another turn in the spotlight for CJ Cup

It was only a matter of time until Congaree got another shot to take the PGA Tour’s center stage, and it’s already looking like another success for the Lowco’s newest gem of a golf course. After hosting the Palmetto Championship last June, Congaree Golf Club has shown its splendor — and its teeth — to an even more prestigious field this week at the CJ Cup in South Carolina.


Six of the top 10 and a whopping 15 of the top 20 players in the Official World Golf Rankings are here, and it’s no fluke why. Congaree’s resume — and the Lowco’s reputation — is of high regard in the sport. This dazzling course doesn’t pull any punches and has earned the respect of the best to play the game around the globe. It’s a track that rewards long and accurate drives off the tee with fast and firm conditions and tightly-cut grass requiring precise shots at every turn.


Trey Mullinax did it to perfection in Thursday’s opening round, weathering the cool morning autumn breeze en route to a stellar 6-under 65. The University of Alabama product showcased his excellent ball-striking and accuracy off the tee for a solid opening round and a share of the lead through 18 holes. And he had high praise for the challenge and uniqueness of what Congaree had to offer.


“I think it’s an awesome golf course,” Mullinax said. “I think they’ve done an amazing job with it. We don’t get to play these courses all the time, so I think it’s lots of fun for us and a treat. You can hit any shot you want and you don’t have to hit the same shot over and over, which is really fun about this golf course and brings an artistic feel to it.”


For some, it’s the signature sand and Lowcountry feel that keeps players coming back, like 2022 RBC Heritage champion Jordan Spieth. After capturing the title at Harbour Town in a thrilling April playoff, it was an easy decision for the three-time major champion to participate in the CJ Cup.


“For me, I just, I find the visuals that the way the holes are shaped to be really appealing,” Spieth said. “It’s a challenge, but you kind of have really nice targets set out with the way they cut out this course into the wind. These courses like the Hilton Head area down to the Sea Island area, Charleston area where you get this kind of sand-packed ground, these trees, it’s really pretty.”


Nestled on the fringes of the small Lowcountry town of Ridgeland, Congaree opened just five years ago with the goal of providing access to the game of golf for young people in the Lowcountry and beyond looking to further their skills both on the course and in the classroom. The Global Golf Initiative is at the heart of the club’s mission, making it even more special to see some of the game’s current greats on the track.


But head professional Bruce Davidson knew the potential of what the course could offer as a tournament venue. Congaree was ready to answer the call when the RBC Canadian Open was looking for a one-year home, and the PGA Tour took notice after a terrific debut. Just a year later, the defending FedEx camp and a loaded field of international stars made their way back. And there’s no doubt that this hidden gem will continue to have a mark on the global golf scene.


The only question is what comes next.


So many options are on the table, including making bids for events like the LPGA’s Solheim Cup, the Presidents Cup, or even a U.S. Amateur down the road. And with the resume that Congaree has already built with 15 of the top 20 golfers competing this weekend, the club is earning the prestige and notoriety to make that happen.


It’s a rare gift for golf fans across the Lowcountry to witness the world’s best twice a year, and we’ll definitely savor the rest of the week. The CJ Cup in South Carolina may be a thing of the past come Monday, but we’ll know this — high-quality golf action in the Lowco is here to stay.


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