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Shannon Greens Golf Club near Santee, South Carolina is on the mend

MANNING, S.C. -- Shannon Greens Golf Club has seen good times and not-so-good times, but it's on the road to recovery.

The front nine was built in 1963 and was one of the first golf courses in Santee Cooper Country, a five-county lakes region. The then-private club enjoyed its heyday until competition grew fierce as several other courses opened in the 1980s.

It went semi-private in the mid-1990s, still under group ownership, said General Manager Dave Burton.

A new owner bought it in 2007 and has been investing heavily in the club since, including adding an island green to the par-3 seventh hole.

"It's a different course compared to other ones around here," Burton said. "It's old-style. It has small, crowned greens that require a good iron game. Then, if you miss with your irons, you have to be able to chip. This course will challenge you."

Not only does the golf course have history, so does the staff. Burton has worked for the course on and off for more than 10 years, and Head Professional Glenn Wells grew up on the 13th hole and joined the staff in 2008.

For 32 years and counting, the course has held the annual 150-player golf tournament that kicks off the Striped Bass Festival, a fishing tournament in nearby Lake Marion covered by ESPN.

The course draws visitors from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Canada, a fact reflected by a pro shop display of golf bags, one adorned with University of South Carolina logos, the other with the Cleveland Browns.

It's more proof that no matter where you're from, the Shannon Greens staff makes you feel at home.

"We're a really neat, good-old country course," Burton said.

The front is a quirky collection of three par 3s and three par 5s.

The course throws a lot of trouble at you, but it counters it with a length of only 6,341 from the tips and wide fairways. But don't be fooled -- you can, and likely will, find trouble on this scrappy course.

Not only are the greens small, but also most have sharp fronts, making a bump and run pretty uncertain. It pays to land the ball on the greens, all of which are in excellent shape and roll fast.

After a wide-open par-4 first hole, the second hole is a par-5 dogleg left around water with an added challenge of a ditch that runs across the fairway about 20 yards from the green. The fourth hole is similar, but with much more room to the right. Don't go too far or you might have to steer a shot through some big ole live oaks.

Shannon Greens Golf Club's front ends with another hurdle -- a par 3 over water to a large green backstopped by a bunker. Three-putts are common on this tilted green.

The back follows a traditional rhythm of two par 3s and two par 5s.

Water is your foe on the par-3 15th, which requires a precise shot to a shallow but wide green. The peril, however, shifts to mid-fairway bunkers and rows of trees on Nos. 16 and 17, which run along backyards.

The course ends with a crescendo. The 18th is a great par 4 that requires a drive placed just so to enable you to launch your approach shot over a water-filled gully to the large, sloped green.

After that workout, you've earned a little refreshment in the clubhouse.

Shannon Greens Golf Club, the area's granddaddy course, will teach you to show a little respect to your elders. But it isn't all old school. There is new life at Shannon Greens. Find out for yourself.

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