Troy Miller’s Reimagined Charleston Municipal

Earlier in the season, just as summer was upon us, we visited and experienced the recently renovated Charleston Municipal. Having read and heard so much about what architect Troy Miller (a Charleston native) was able to accomplish with his renovation of the course he grew up playing, it was imperative to get “Muni” on the slate of our Carolina Tour. An itinerary that already included heavy hitters – Caledonia, Pinehurst, Tobacco Road, and Carolina Golf Club, but “Muni” was as high on our must-play list as any of them.

The long-awaited announcement to greenlight the renovation of the 1929 course – and its property that was donated to the city in 1927 (mandated to be used as a city-run community golf course), was welcome news to the locals. The 15-month project began at the end of 2019 with a modest price tag of 3 million dollars supplied by both public and private funds.

The original routing map of Charleston Municipal

The Project:

Muni’s routing runs along the Maybank Highway towards the Stono River and shares origination timelines as two nearby highly acclaimed Seth Raynor designs – Country Club of Charleston and Yeamans Hall. Both of which are exclusive clubs that feature Raynor’s unique green complexes such as Biarritz, Redan, Double Plateau, Punchbowl, etc. The exclusive nature of both Yeamans and CCC meant that most Charleston golfers would never have the priviledge of experiencing a Seth Raynor design. Enter Troy Miller, who incorporated many of Raynor’s signature template green designs into his reimagined edition of “Muni”.

Functionally, there were five holes along the highway and river on the inward side with extensive drainage issues as it related to its tidal marshes and rainfall, this parcel of the property required an extensive redesign of the ground elevation and directional water flow. Even a moderate rain would often leave the back nine unplayable. More on this later, when we profile the stunning new holes twelve thru sixteen.

“Tiger Woods, Lee Trevino, Calvin Peete – all of these guys started out their careers learning the game of golf on a municipal golf course. With what we’re doing in protecting the integrity of this place for generations to come, my hope is one day we’ll be able to add to this list with one of our own Charlestonians who started here at the Muni and went on to do great things in the game of golf.”

— Troy Miller, Golf Course Architect

The clubhouse is a reflection of the modest community vibe at Charleston Municipal. “Friends of the Muni” is a nonprofit organization that raised part of the funds to renovate the course.

The Muni hosts well over 55K rounds each year, a true community golf nirvana for men and women, boys and girls. Locals and out of towners all sharing a common passion for the game and the vibe of a friendly environment.

A view from back of the first green “Double Plateau”

The par 3 fourth is another Raynor-inspired design known as “Eden”, made famous by the eleventh at the Old Course at St.Andrews.

A close up of the contours of the fourth green, notice the throwback short flagsticks at Muni.

Approach view into the Punchbowl sixth

The par 4 sixth features Miller’s own “punchbowl”, a shallower version of what we know to be typical. Steep turf-walled bunkers guard the front, while anything deep finds water.

A closer view, shows the contours and runoffs at the sixth.

Although a bit smaller in scale than Raynor’s “Golden Age” era greens, Miller nailed the essence with his iterations.

The outward nine is a thrill ride that reaches an adrenaline rush at the risk/reward par 5 seventh. Any approach that doesn’t find the putting surface is likely to end in calamity.

Bunker view at the seventh

The par 3 eleventh “Redan” is your first sight of the river and the bridge in the background. The stretch of eleven thru sixteen is brilliant, bold and fun – and it’s where Troy Miller did the heavy lifting to change the fortunes of “Muni”. He raised the ground profile of the property and enlarged the lake to move the excess tidal water that had constantly plagued this portion of the property for decades.

This side view of “Redan” shows Miller’s back shelf contour that offers plenty of challenge for a short/middle iron, especially in this exposed portion of the property. It may drive the recreational player batty (as I observed in the group behind us), but on a benign weather day, it’s an absolute blast to play.

The rearview of the eleventh
Thirteenth hole “Road”

After twelfth, the 375 yard “Cape” hole that tempts you to bite off more carry than you should, comes “Road” (above) a stunning short par 4 that gives multiple options of how to play it – personally, this might be my favorite on the property. Rather than a typical “Road” template, this hole design personally gave off vibes of David McLay Kidd’s fabulous sixteenth at Bandon Dunes.

A closer look at the severely contoured green complex that features an infinity edge that bleeds into the marsh on the right. Going for the green off the tee can payoff, but can also leave a treacherous pitch approach.

After the fabulous “Short” fourteenth that sits in the foreground of the daily highway commute – featuring a very distinct “Thumbprint”, comes the fifteenth “Maiden”. Made famous by the sixth at Royal St.George’s, this is where Miller’s thrill ride reaches its climax. Take notice of the back right hole location (above), stunning and sadistic at the same time, it may bring on anxiety to the masses who play it with this hole location.

For Mitch Laurence and I, this was our introductory spin around “Muni” and for two well-traveled links lovers, we were over the moon to experience such a gem in a public access setting. For the mid/high handicap player coming out for the first time (or anyone without Seve-like shortgame skills), do yourself a favor and play match play with your group to get the full enjoyment of Miller’s expression of Raynor templates.

Charleston Muni is a big supporter of junior programs – which have grown tremendously since the renovation. A new practice area is next up on the project schedule, where hundreds of youth golfers will hone their skills and make new friends at their local community links playground. A big salute to the city of Charleston, Friends of the Muni organization, and Troy Miller for their vision and determination in creating the reimagined Muni.

Prices to play:

Monday-Friday——————— Non residents——— Senior 62+ (Mon-Fri) —-Weekends & Holidays

Regular (Non-Resident)——————$60/80—————— $50/70————————-$60/80

Tri-County Resident ——————— $35/55——————-$30/50————————$40/60

City of Charleston Resident ———– $20/40——————-$17/37————————$25/45

https://www.charleston-sc.gov/644/Golf

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