Willbrook Plantation was created 220 years ago on land that was once a thriving rice plantation. In 1988, Willbrook Plantation Golf Club was built on that land, but not until after extensive study on its rich coastal history.
Established in 1798, Willbrook was one of several plantations that contributed to Georgetown County, S.C.’s rise as the rice growing capital of the world. Cultivating rice required careful planning and expertise to build the dams and channels needed to flood the fields and produce high yields of the crop. That critical knowledge was brought to Georgetown County by enslaved Africans schooled in the complexities of growing rice. Rice plantations can only be created in places with significant tidal ranges, with fresh water layering the salt water. Along the Waccamaw River in Georgetown County was the perfect place for it. As a result, from the late 1700s into the 1830s, Georgetown County was the wealthiest area along the Atlantic coast.
But the Civil War weakened the economy and many plantation owners moved inland. Some of the land was sold. And finally, the hurricanes of 1889, 1893, 1898, 1906, 1910, and 1911 wrecked the dike system and ended rice production along the Waccamaw River.
“The history of this land is fascinating,” said Kevin McGuire, the head golf professional at Willbrook Plantation Golf Club for 17 years. “I’ve been here for almost two decades and I’m still in awe of the historic oaks and artifacts that were found on the property. We invite you to come down and experience it yourself.”
Willbrook’s history is reflected on six historical markers placed around the course. There’s a chimney that still stands at the site of the plantation house, a sign marking the slaves' cemetery, and a sign that lists some of the artifacts found in the archaeological dig, among others.
The Dan Maples course has wide fairways winding around lakes and over wetlands. Two-hundred-year-old moss-draped live oaks frame several holes throughout the course. Willbrook Plantation is also known for its abundance of wildlife including herons, fox, deer, osprey, and alligators. Applauded as both fun and challenging, it is consistently awarded 4.5 out of 5 stars in Golf Digest’s “Places To Play” listing.
More information about Willbrook Plantation can be found at willbrookgolf.com
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