Golf tournament at Congaree having an impact on Jasper Co.

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 3:54 PM EDT
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JASPER COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - There is no sign outside the Congaree Golf Club and it is situated so far back in the woods of Ridgeland that you could pass it every every day and not even know it was there.

Judging by the obviously deep pockets and impeccable appointments inside Congaree, it would seem the club shares little in common beyond a zip code with the neighborhoods immediately outside its gates.

But the club that was founded on the principal of giving back globally has also had an impact in the local community.

They have supported the local First Tee chapter and started golf programs at local high schools, while also donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Jasper County Boys and Girls Club.

Most recently, Congaree created a job-development program for local high school students not on track to graduate to help integrate them into the local workforce.

“That’s to capture kids from high school who didn’t make it into college and really don’t feel like they have a pathway to success,” said Bruce Davidson. “So, these kids can enroll in the Congaree Workforce Program and we can help them get into the hospitality business. Now, there’s a pipeline for that. One day in Jasper County, we’ll maybe have a couple of kids serving Cokes and hot dogs and then eventually the can come to Congaree and learn about the food and beverage business or they can come and work for the greens superintendent here and look at this beautiful golf course. They can learn how to do that.”

Unlike for players in the Palmetto Championship, there is no scorecard to measure the club’s performance locally. But Congaree officials are certain that they have made a difference in Ridgeland and Jasper County since building the course.

“It was pure happenstance. We went on a site to build a world-class golf course, knowing that the area was a little deprived but not knowing that Jasper County is one of if not the poorest county in South Carolina. We really didn’t know. I think that’s the big man upstairs, a little happenstance helped us along the way. And we’ve really done our best. We came here seven years ago to develop the property and we’ve seen just driving by things housing prices have gone up, things look better, there’s some new schools open, some restaurants opened. And people have openly told us we did it because the golf course is here. And this week will be a big boost to Jasper County in terms of dollars into the community. And we’re very proud of that.”

If this week had not been planned under the lingering specter of a pandemic, Congaree would have had would have had dozens of local teenagers here serving as standard bearers and driving range attendants for the Palmetto Championship.

But that will be a possible addition if - and more likely when - Conagree hosts its next professional tournament.

Congaree also has a strong caddie program, mostly for adults, but high school students can also qualify to enter it and become a caddie at the club.

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