From the time it opened in 1987, Wade Hampton Golf Club received accolades from top golf publications. Golf Digest magazine named Wade Hampton its Best New Private Course for 1987, while Golfweek magazine has recognized the Tom Fazio design as one of the Best Residential Golf Courses in the country. The course is currently listed among the top 100 courses in the U.S. by several publications, including Golf Digest.
The course resides in the Cashiers Valley, which was first settled in the 1820s. But it was Wade Hampton III, a confederate soldier known as “The Giant in Gray,” who brought the region to prominence and for whom the club is named. Hampton first moved to this region of North Carolina after purchasing property from one of the earliest settlers in 1855. Hampton used the Valley as his summer home for many years, including the time he served as Governor of South Carolina, U.S. Senator and U.S. Railroad Commissioner. Hampton and his family used to harvest ice from the lakes and where the current 18th green sits today there was once an ice house.
Hampton was the highest ranking Confederate cavalry officer under General Robert E. Lee’s command, and he fought in the Battle of Antietam, the First Battle of Bull Run and the Battle of Fredricksburg. A large painting of Hampton, who was injured several times at Gettysburg during the Civil War, can be seen hanging in the Wade Hampton Golf Club pro shop.
When Hampton died in 1902, his niece Caroline Halsted and her husband, William, moved into the estate. Dr. Halsted was one of the premier surgeons in the country and the residence was used as a place to rest and relax. They named the estate High Hampton in honor of Caroline’s uncle.
E. Lyndon McKee, an industrialist and pioneer, later purchased the property following Halsted’s passing and transformed the property into a summer resort. An agreement by the Mckee family in 1984 divided the property into the High Hampton Resort and Wade Hampton Golf Club. William McKee and Anne Austin organized a group of Founders that was the genesis of today’s current club membership. It was McKee who retained Fazio to design a championship golf course that not only complements the surrounding environment, but is also a fun and challenging layout for top players.
In order to be a member, an individual must own property or a house bordering the course. Wade Hampton also has a program where it sponsors young adults from South Africa to apprentice as caddies and other club jobs in order to learn the golf business.
Sitting at more than 3,600 feet above sea level, the course, which is three hours by car from Atlanta, begins at the highest point on the property with a par 5. The routing features several elevation changes and meanders through tree-line fairways. At least 12 holes begin from an elevated teeing ground, with the par-4 13th being the most dramatic. Adding to the beauty of the downhill hole is the awe-inspiring beauty of Chimney Top Mountain, which looks much closer in proximity to the course than it actually is.