Review of Columbia Lakes Country Club
Originally designed by Jack Miller, Columbia Lakes Country Club in West Columbia opened for play in 1972. The original design was pretty straight forward and traditional until renowned architect Tom Fazio, known as “America’s Greatest Living Architect,” was hired to rework the course in 1989. And shortly thereafter Columbia Lakes Country Club was rated 3 ½ stars in Golf Digest’s “Places to Play.” Fazio is our favorite designer because he builds a course that’s fun to play and fair but very demanding with a premium placed on accuracy over distance – and Columbia Lakes is a typical Fazio design.
New management took over Columbia Lakes Resort and Golf Course in 2006 and spent a lot of time and money on renovating the course – radar was required to navigate through trees that badly needed trimming and all of the bunkers had to be reworked. Today the course is in very good condition and well manicured and maintained.
Columbia Lakes plays through some nice homes in the Columbia Lakes community, past hundreds of stately and sprawling 200 year old live oaks draped with eerie gray Spanish moss, and around or across several meandering lakes and lagoons. Like a lot of Fazio designs, Columbia Lakes requires accuracy over distance thanks to very narrow tree-lined fairways, dog legs, and strategically placed bunkers. It also requires a good sand game because you’ll most likely be in a few of the 56 bunkers as well as a precise short game to hit the small well guarded greens. And bring your ball retriever because there is water on 11 of 18 holes! But don’t let that scare you, just make sure you pick the right set of tee boxes (the good news is there are five with yardages of 5325 to 7006 yards) and consider leaving the driver in the bag unless you’re deadly accurate off the tee.
Fazio likes to throw at least one thing at you on each hole – on Columbia Lakes it might be a dog leg, it could be a strategically placed fairway bunker, a finger of a lake jutting into the fairway, or a huge tree blocking a shot. For example, on the first hole I walked up to the tee box, said “Wow, that’s tight” and immediately went and got my 4 wood or when you walk up to the 13thtee box and see the pin about 540 yards straight away, you might say “this looks like an easy par 5 (in fact it is the #18 handicap) but when you get near the green you’ll notice it’s very small and well protected by 3 deep pot bunkers and two huge bunkers and there is no room for error!
Columbia Lakes Country Club is home to some outstanding holes and some of our favorites included:
- All of the par 3’s are fun and scenic with water that can come into play
- #5, a 533 yard par five that takes a 90 degree turn right around a lake and requires accuracy all the way and offers two excellent risk-reward opportunities to make the hole a little shorter or if you miss it makes par virtually impossible
- #10 is a 400 yard dog leg right par 4 that demands a precise drive to be in position for the shot to the green, avoid the large tree pinching the fairway on the right side, and the long skinny bunker waiting to catch a drive that is a little long – and then you need to stuff it on a small light bulb shaped well guarded raised green
- #17 is a fun 486 yard par 5 with a manageable carry over the lake that runs from in front of the tee box all along the left side and then cuts back in front of a challenging green complex
The fairways at Columbia Lake were in pretty good condition when we played in November when most other courses were suffering thanks to a harsh winter, severe drought, and record heat. All of the fairways are tree-lined and most have houses setting several yards in back of the trees. All are tight and if you spray the ball much you'll be under the trees.
The greens were in very good condition and had just been overseeded with winter bent grass. As such they were running a little slower than normal and a little bumpy. Most of the Columbia Lakes greens were on the small side, had some minor slope and a little undulation, and all were well guarded.
The bunkers ranged in size from long and skinny to small pot bunkers. The sand was wet when we played but seemed like it normally be a little firm but very playable. The lips ranged from small to some steep and deep monsters.
Great course and fun to play. Check out the Columbia Lakes Resort Stay & Play option – a real value. Read our review of the Columbia Lakes Country Club Stay & Play package to learn more.
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Service is outstanding - friendly, outgoing, and attentive. The putting green and range are adequate. Mulligan's Grill has some good food and one of the best ever burgers. The pro shop has all of the basics.
Michael Stefek is first asst and Josh Rogers is pro