OKATIE, S.C. -- The best junior golfers from all corners of the globe traveled to South Carolina's historic Lowcountry recently for the Hank Haney IJGA Junior Open at Chechessee Creek Club. But in the end, only a pair of locals could score under par when it counted on Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw's masterful, par-70 layout.
Andrew Orischak of nearby Hilton Head Island fired a final-round 1-under-par 69 — posting a tournament total 1-under 209 — to claim his first AJGA tournament victory. A fellow South Carolinian, Lauren Stephenson of Lexington, captured the girls division, also managing a final-round 69. The Clemson University commit took control by opening with a 66 — setting the ladies course record at Chechessee Creek — and led wire-to-wire finishing at 4-under-par 206.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Hank Haney IJGA Junior Open was a 54-hole stroke play competition featuring 57 boys and 19 girls, ages 12-18, from 17 states, Canada, Japan and Thailand.
The boys division tackled the highly regarded Chechessee Creek course at 6,502 yards, while the girls division played the course at 5,779 yards. Orischak was locked in a three-way tie headed into the final four holes, but made a birdie on No. 15 to take the lead he would never relinquish.
Stephenson took a three-shot lead into the final round and continued her steady play with 15 pars and only one bogey on the final day, coupled with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 12 and 13.
Aliea Clark of Carlsbad, Calif., shot a final-round 1-under-par 69 to finish second with a tournament total 1-under-par 209. Clark's mother, Bernadette, was among the many parents, players and tournament organizers who raved about Chechessee Creek.
"Chechessee Creek Club is a hidden gem," said Bernadette Clark. "It is peppered with playable and challenging holes that really seemed to belong in the environment rather than imposed upon it. If this is a good example of Coore-Crenshaw, I am a fan."
Michael Hallisey of Wethersfield, Conn., served as a medical attendant during the tournament while his son, Patrick, played in the event. "I would describe the Chechessee Creek Club as the most beautiful, serene and welcoming club I've ever visited," said Michael Hallisey. "From the moment I entered a parking lot with the parking spots carefully slotted beneath shady trees I felt welcome. When I opened the front door and saw the sign on the door that said 'Gentleman please remove your hat,' I knew that I was in a place with great etiquette.
"When I went out on the golf course," Hallisey continued, "I thought I was walking through the movie 'The Legend of Bagger Vance.' It is a beautiful, tree-lined course covered with Spanish moss where the brush beneath the trees has been cleared."
Echoed Patrick Hallisey: "The course played great. The holes weren't long but the greens made it challenging. As you play the course you learn the nuances on how to play it and score low numbers."
One tournament parent, Tim Gillam of Cary, N.C., said he and his family were so impressed with Chechessee Creek, he was considering joining the private, national club located equidistantly from Hilton Head Island, Beaufort and Savannah, Ga. "I was impressed enough to get a membership package," said Gillam. "In case we ever decide to purchase a coastal place."
Little wonder the world's best young golfers and their families were excited: Chechessee Creek debuted around the turn of the 21st century, yet was clearly conceptualized and constructed to provide the game's connoisseurs a classic golf experience from yesteryear. When it opened in 2000, the Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore-designed masterpiece was heralded among the finest modern golf courses in the United States, as well as one of the best layouts in South Carolina.
"We were treated to some spectacular play," said Chechessee Creek General Manager and Director of Golf Franklin Newell, "and the players really seemed to enjoy being at Chechessee Creek."
Learn more at www.ChechesseeCreekClub.com or by calling (843) 987-7000.
Martin Armes, 919-608-7260, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brad King, 336-306-9219, email@example.com