Caledonia Golf & Fish Club

by | Jun 2, 2024 | Where to Play

From Rice Plantation to Renowned Course: The History of Caledonia Golf & Fish Club

Nestled in the heart of South Carolina’s Hammock Coast, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club isn’t your average course. Boasting accolades like “Top 100 Courses You Can Play” by Golf Magazine, it offers a unique blend of challenging play and scenic beauty. But Caledonia’s story goes far beyond the perfectly manicured greens. It’s a tale rooted in history, tracing back to the early days of the American South.

The land Caledonia occupies has a rich past. In the early 1800s, it was part of one of the area’s largest rice plantations. The man behind it all? Dr. Robert Nesbit, a Scotsman who christened the property “Caledonia” — the Roman name for his homeland. Whether it was through his marriage to Elizabeth Pawley, a member of a prominent local family, or by separate means, Nesbit secured this vast estate (some sources say it was a whopping 2,542 acres!). The Pawley family’s influence is still felt today — the nearby town proudly bears their name, Pawleys Island.

Generations passed, and the vast estate fragmented. By 1971, the land had shrunk to 152 acres, purchased by a group with a different vision. Hunting and fishing became the new pursuit, a way of life that fostered camaraderie and a connection to the untamed beauty of the Lowcountry. Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, Thursday dinners, and social gatherings became a cherished tradition, a way to keep the spirit of the place alive.

By the early 1990s, the joys of living in the Myrtle Beach area had become clear, and land was being gobbled up, but Lachicotte and his friends wanted to preserve a tract of property they believed was the “finest piece of land left on the Grand Strand.”

As sportsmen, the owners aimed to build a golf course that preserved as much of the land’s natural beauty as possible. As southerners, they wanted to create an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality that visitors from around the country and the world would remember fondly. The goal of Caledonia Golf & Fish Club remains that each guest reflects on his or her day not just as a round of golf but as an overall Lowcountry experience.

The club commissioned the late, great golf course architect Mike Strantz to transform the property. Strantz, known for his artistic approach, sculpted the land, weaving in ponds, streams, and bunkers to create a challenging yet visually stunning 18-hole course.

In April 1993, nine months before Caledonia Golf & Fish Club was set to open, Doc Lachicotte, who was part of the course’s ownership group, took a local reporter on a tour of the property.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Lachicotte told the Sun News. “We want to keep it that way.”

When Caledonia opened on January 1, 1994, the course captivated players with its Lowcountry charm and Strantz’s limitless creativity.

Golf Digest ranked Caledonia among America’s best new courses. Buoyed by the success of his maiden layout, Strantz went on to design True Blue, Caledonia’s sister course, and Tobacco Road, among others, before tragically passing away from cancer in 2005.

The opening of Caledonia Golf & Fish Club not only launched Strantz’s career but also helped usher in a new era of Myrtle Beach golf courses, as the area became known for the quality and quantity of its offerings. Caledonia was ranked among the nation’s top 100 public layouts, an honor it has maintained through the years by never losing sight of the course’s original goals.

“We really intend to spend a lot of money on beautification,” Lachicotte told the Sun News. “This will be one of the prettiest courses around here.”

Three decades later, the commitment to the property’s beauty is as strong as ever. Just as important were Strantz’s objectives as he designed the course.

“The goal really is to have somebody stand on the tee and be dazzled at how beautiful it is, but not make it so hard that it’s miserable to be out there,” he said in the spring of 1993.

In the three decades since the first tee shot was struck, more than a million golfers have been dazzled by Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, whose commitment to providing a memorable experience is stronger than ever.


About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Alan Darty</a>

Alan Darty

Alan is the founder and publisher of Golf One Media and the former publisher of eSouthernGOLF—a second-generation Florida native who loves all things Florida. You can usually find him with his wife, watching their two daughters coaching volleyball at Oviedo (FL) High School or Mississippi State University when he's not golfing, hunting, or fishing.