"Cross Winds Golf Course is the only golf course in the world with every hole designed by a different architect," Ron Whitten, Architectural Editor, Golf Digest.
          There's only one golf course in the world that has each hole conceived by a different designer. It's Cross Winds Golf Club in Greenville, S.C., and the reason you've never heard of it is because it's an 18-hole par-3 course. Yes, it's a gimmick, but it's a gimmick that works. What otherwise might have been just another fun-to-play but quickly forgettable par-3 layout is instead both fun-to-play and rather memorable. The holes stick in your brain long after you leave. You can instantly remember the Dye hole, or the Jones one or the Cupp one, and while you might have to think a minute about who designed some of the other holes (using the scorecard as a cheat sheet); you certainly can recall the salient features of each hole, because each is distinctive and different. There were real golf course architects involved, some very recognizable names, in fact. None of them were paid.

Owner, Sam Pate

Owner, Sam Pate

          They provided their designs gratis, as a favor to their friend, Greenville golf architect John LaFoy, who is the epitome of a Southern gentleman and obviously a persuasive talker. He promised each of them a free dinner for their time and effort. LaFoy came up with the idea in the mid-1990s, while he was serving on the board of directors of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. He would later serve as its president in 1999, the year after Cross Winds opened. Asked to build a little course on just 30 acres of land right across the highway from the Downtown Greenville airport, right in a flight line, in fact, LaFoy figured he'd have to provide something different if he wanted the course to draw any business. He started asking his architect friends if they would sketch up an idea for a short hole and most of them agreed to do it! Some of them provided just preliminary sketches, but others gave more detailed drawings.

          Mike Hurdzan even gave a name to what would become his 130-yard sixth: "Hump 'n' Hollow."That pretty much describes the green and its surrounds. LaFoy handled the routing, assigned individual holes and supervised the construction. He didn't want each person to conjure up the toughest hole possible, so he provided some parameters. He asked a couple of designers to draw up the best hole they could think of without any bunkers. He asked a couple of others for a hole with two bunkers and a couple more for holes with three bunkers. Nobody got to choose what hole they'd get to design. Well, that's not exactly accurate.

          Rees Jones agreed, on the condition that he'd get to design a water hole. LaFoy had only one retention pond planned for the layout, so to get Rees's participation, he gave him that hole but as it turns out, the pond was never built. There's another irony involved with the Jones hole. As an architect, Rees is the Duke of Definition, the King of Clarity, but his little 104 yard 7th features a frontal bunker that can't be seen from the tee because of a big mound between tee and green. I have a hunch LaFoy added that mound and hid that bunker as something of an inside joke.

          The 144-yard 4th is called the Tom Fazio hole, but Fazio's long-time associate Tom Marzolf actually provided the design which has six bunkers and more sand than the previous three holes combined. Marzolf, the current president of the ASGCA and a stickler for detail, even made a couple of trips down from his home in Hendersonville, N.C., during construction to make sure the hole was built according to their plan.

          The yardages on the front nine are all rather short. The shortest is the heavily-bunkered 90-yard Jeff Brauer 8th. The longest is the 153-yard Pete Dye 9th, where a frontal bunker edged in railroad ties tells you it's a Pete Dye. But the hole was actually designed by Pete's wife Alice (another former president of the ASGCA), who sketched a hole vaguely based on the 13th green at Harbour Town, another hole she designed without Pete's involvement. When she sent LaFoy her sketch, she wrote on it, "This is an Alice Dye hole, for which Pete Dye will take all the credit!"

          The front nine is shorter than LaFoy wanted because he had to reduce several holes to make room for the clubhouse and parking lot after an early location on the west side of the property proved unfeasible. While you can play the opening nine with just a couple of irons and a putter, the back nine is 200 yards longer and will give your medium irons a good workout, even your long irons if the wind is up. Yet the most memorable hole on the back nine could be the Dan Maples-designed 84-yard 11th, which drops 40 feet into a ravine and has a tricky shelf in the back of the green.

          The Tom Clark 12th plays down the ravine, hard against a tree-lined creek on the right, and the Denis Griffiths 160-yard 13th plays back atop the rim of the ravine to a green guarded by a mighty deep bunker for such a playful little course. The remainder of the back nine is characterized by huge humps covered in tall native grasses. I snap-hooked my tee shot into one of them on the Jay Morrish 166-yard 15th, dug through the ankle deep stuff and found a dozen balls. None were mine. I'm told the owners are thinking about mowing down the knobs, but I think that would be a mistake. They're hazards, in plain view, off to the sides. If customers don't like 'em, they should stay out of ’em!
          Jay Haas, a Greenville resident and one of the original investors in the course, was asked to design the 143-yard 17th hole. But he couldn't sketch anything and he had a hard time expressing just what he wanted. Finally, he went to LaFoy and told him he wanted to throw golfers off-guard visually, so they installed a bunker 20 yards short of the green that looks, from the tee, to be right up against it.
          The closing 120-yarder is LaFoy's design, maybe the best on the course, given the diagonal positioning of its bunkers and the subtle slopes in the green. I imagine John spent a little extra time shaping and raking this hole, so it would compare favorably with those of his brethren. LaFoy recently told me that he learned two things from this exercise. First, continuity on a golf course is overrated. The disjointed nature of Cross Winds, from the big humps on the Dick Phelps 5th hole, to the pot bunkers recessed into the sides of the Bob Cupp plateau green at the 10th, to the graceful flow of the landscape surrounding the Robert Muir Graves 16th, is what gives this course its charm and personality.
          Second, designer labels are overrated. Cross Winds doesn't pack them in because of its novelty. Most people play it because they're beginners, or with beginners, or just like the fact that they can get in a quick round in the evening under the floodlights, which line the fairways and encircle the greens. But LaFoy figures few seek it out in search of an original Fazio or original Jones golf hole. I think he's being a little hard on that second point. The fact is, the various owners of Cross Winds have never marketed the course for its unusual collective design. If it were my course, I'd conjure up a Camel logo, sell bag tags and golf towels sporting the names and likenesses of each of the architects and create some sort of modest yardage book (yes, a yardage book for a par-3 course) with a little write-up about each architect, and some of LaFoy's back story about each hole.  

Cross Winds is not a great specimen of golf architecture, but it is a really fun par-3 course with enough variety to hold everyone's interest. I just think it needs a better name. (I'm told the owners came up with the name Cross Winds because it sits across the road from an airport.

 

"Cross Winds Golf Course could be the fourth course in the rotation at the BMW.com golf tournament," Stan Olenik,  Golf Club Magazine

          BMW Charity Pro-Am is played on three courses in the Upstate but Thornblade Club, Greenville Country Club and the Reserve are not the only courses that pros visit while they are in town.

Cross Winds has become an unofficial fourth course for the Web.com event. 

It is not a course that is played in the tournament, but tournament officials, Golf Channel staff and a few pros who need some extra short game practice all play the Par-3 course during tournament week.  

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“All these people have been coming here over the years, but it seems like the last few years we are seeing more and more come to the course,” said Jim Cadieux, Cross Winds manager.

Former big league pitcher and Greenville resident Jose Alvarez organized a special Fellowship of Christian Athletes tournament to benefit junior golf at the course this year.

The tournament field included 20 Web.com Tour players, caddies and local amateurs who played the course on the Monday night before the start of the BMW tournament.

The team of Greenville’s Kyle Thompson and Bill Silva won the tournament.

During the week announcers from the Golf Channel visited the course a few times after their on-air work was completed.

The course received high praise from the announcing staff assigned to the tournament.

“I have played par-3 courses all over the world and this is the finest course I have played,” said Craig Perks, the Golf Channel announcer and the winner of The 2002 Players Championship.

In addition to the tournament announcers, PGA Tour officials made several visits to the course in the evening to play under the lights.

 

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South Carolina Junior Golf Association Tournament at Cross Winds
On May 18, 2013, the South Carolina Junior Golf Association played a tournament at Cross Winds Golf Club. Visit our photo gallery to see pictures.

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 Cross Winds Golf Featured in US Airways Magazine
"Best Golf."    A different famous architect (such as Tom Fazio, Pete Dye, Rees Jones, and Arnold Palmer) designed each of the 18 holes at Cross Winds Golf Club, making it one of the world’s most intriguing courses. The par-3 course can be played in just two hours.

Cross Winds Listed in the "Must Play" Lection of Michelin's "Greenville and Upcountry" Visitor's Guide
          "Play a signature par 3 golf course designed by some of the world's most famous golf architects.  Spend a relaxing hour playing nine holes or two hours playing 18." 

Golf Business Magazine Calls Cross Winds a "unique experience" in a June 2013 Article by Stephen Tingle. 
          Drive by Greenville, SC's Cross Winds Par-3 any weekday evening and you'd swear the golf business is as healthy as it has ever been. The parking lot is full, there are groups on every hole, and the cash register is humming inside the tiny pro shop.  
           "After work is our busiest time," says Sam Pate, who along with a group of partners that include golf course architect John LaFoy, built Cross Winds in 1997.   "People can come out at 5:15, play 18 holes, and be home in time for dinner."
           Located adjacent to I-385 and in direct line of one of Greenville's executive airport's runways, Cross Winds is a 29 acre, 18 hole executive course that's a blessing to time-stretched Upstate golfers. "We're definitely seeing an uptick," says Pate, who credits today's busy lifestyles for Cross Winds' growth.  "With people working longer, it's hard to find five or six hours [to play a full round]. They're much more able to fit a two-hour round into their schedule." 
          Despite the success his facility has enjoyed, Pate realizes that golfers still want a quality experience.  "Cross Winds is in better shape than many of the longer courses," he notes. "People say our greens are as good or better than any greens in the Upstate."
          In addition to superb putting surfaces, Cross Winds benefits from a unique design philosophy: Each of the course's 18 holes was designed by a different, yet renowned, golf course architect.  LaFoy, who designed the No. 18 hole, convinced 17 of his friends--architects such as Bob Cupp and Rees Jones, among others--to design one hole.  Each readily accepted the challenge. 
           "Some people hear 'Par-3 course' and think of a little pitch-and-putt," Pate says.  "But here, we have 18 championship holes.  And you can play them in two hours." --Steven Tingle.T.

 

Town Carolina Features Cross Winds and Sam Pate in May Issue

Town Carolina article written by Steven Tingle on May 31, 2013. 

           Cross Winds Golf Club has lightning-fast greens, signature holes, and an owner larger than life.
           Just about every warm Wednesday evening a “skins game” takes place at Cross Winds Golf Club, off of I-385 in Greenville. Around 6:15 p.m., golfers of all shapes, sizes, and abilities pull into the parking lot and step out of mini vans, convertibles, work trucks, and SUVs. They steady themselves against their vehicles and replace boots, loafers, and Crocs with golf shoes and sneakers. Most remove their driver from their golf bag before heading to the small clubhouse where they give their name and $25 to the man behind the counter. Then it’s out through the back door and on to the practice green for a few quick putts. The practice green, like the other 18 greens, is cool-season bent grass, grown tight and cut short. Cross Wind’s greens are smooth and deceptively fast, like rolling marbles on a mirror. The greens are better than they should be—in fact, for a par-three course next to an Interstate, they are better than they have any right to be. An avid golfer just back from the Low country comments, “I don’t think you could find better greens anywhere in the state right now.” Those within earshot agree.
          The variety of players this evening is stunning. There’s a single dad, a former Atlanta Braves pitcher, an auto-body repairman, and a slim blonde whose tight outfit serves as a distracting strategy. There are limber twenty-somethings and pot-bellied 60-year-olds. There are Polo shirts tucked into flat-front khakis and printed t-shirts billowing above cargo shorts. Crosswinds is truly an equal-opportunity golf course.
          A few yards from the green, a man stands off to himself, casually watching the proceedings. He’s pushing 70 and seems slightly weak but his handshake is sturdy and firm. He’s wearing khaki shorts and sport sandals and his brown windbreaker stands guard against the evening air. His thinning hair is cut close above his ears where tiny translucent tubes snake around and disappear into the canals. “Hello, Sam,” the former big league pitcher calls out. “Hey, Sam,” yells the single dad. “Good to see you, Sam,” shouts the auto-body repairman. Most of the players know the founder and owner of Cross Winds, and Sam Pate knows most of them in return—“Hello, Jose”—“Hello, Trent”—“Where’s your brother tonight, Rob?”
           If you play Cross Winds, you will come to know Sam Pate. He’s there almost every day. Sometimes to check up on things, or roll a few putts on the practice green, or maybe just to walk nine by himself, part of his long and continued rehabilitation.
          At 6:30 p.m., a man with a clipboard emerges from the clubhouse and ascends the first tee. “Listen up,” yells Jim Cadieux, the general manager and golf pro. Jim goes over the game’s rules, which takes about fifteen seconds, then assigns players their starting hole.
          Pate watches proudly as the group of around 40 breaks apart in all directions across his course. He had no experience in the golf business when he built Cross Winds in 1997. “I went into it recognizing the fact I didn’t know much,” he says. “I tried to think of everything that could go wrong. Double lung transplant was one thing I didn't think of.”
          Two weeks earlier Sam Pate sat at an outdoor table at Adams Bistro off Pelham Road and lunched on chicken, pinto beans, and collard greens. “When the leaves are off you can see the course from here,” he says, pointing across the parking lot. Pate is popular here, as well. Without asking, he’s brought a glass filled with half tea, half lemonade, and almost every employee offers an enthusiastic, “Hey, Sam!” He returns their greetings by name. Pate is catching up with John LaFoy, lunch companion and one of the founding partners of Cross Winds. LaFoy, a Greenville-based golf course architect with a Foghorn Leghorn voice is a designer whose talent has taken him from Augusta National to past president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Pate first met LaFoy in 1997 after Pate’s friend, the executive director of the downtown airport, asked Pate if he had any ideas, or interest, in developing a piece of land near one of the runways. At the time the parcel was cleared but zoning restrictions had limited it to a 29-acre eyesore.  “I said you might have room for a par three,” Pate recalls.
          Pate negotiated a 40-year lease on the land, and LaFoy had the audacious, and brilliant, idea to ask seventeen of his architect friends to design one hole each. “The hard part was to get seventeen architects to do it without having to pay them,” says LaFoy. All but one accepted the offer. The result is mind-boggling: a par-three course with holes designed by Rees Jones, Tom Fazio and Tom Marzoff, Bob Cupp, and Pete and Alice Dye, among others.
          Pate has owned Cross Winds outright since 2002 but the course is not his only job. “I’m a salesman,” he says when asked what he does for a living. “I’ve been with the same company for 32 years.” Pate sells paper business forms, a product slowly being eliminated by technology.
           Over the years Pate has learned the golf business is much like his other job: it’s based on relationships, on remembering names and being memorable. He’s also learned to slow down and smell the collard greens, as a double lung transplant in 2008 kept him in the hospital for three months and on a treadmill for much of five years. “I’ve been very, very fortunate,” he says.
          Back at the skins game, the floodlights are on and the last few putts are rolled through eerily long shadows. Pate has gone home, the temperature has dropped and a final plane descends over the course into darkness. Soon the results will be tallied and the winners goaded into buying a round at a bar somewhere nearby. When the parking lot empties, Jim will turn off the lights, lock the door and close the gate on another long day.
          Tomorrow, grass will be cut and bunkers raked and somewhere one fewer business form will be sold. And Sam Pate will shake hands and remember names and maybe roll a few putts on mirror-slick greens, all while feeling grateful for his friends, for his course, and for every single breath.

 

Greenville Business Magazine calls Cross Winds "Greenville’s Best Kept Golf Secret"
           Looking for a place to play the holes designed by the best names in golf?  Look no further.  Cross Winds Par 3 Signature Golf Course “offers golfers of all levels the opportunity to play an eighteen-hole championship course in two hours and also serves as an excellent venue for accomplished golfers to perfect their short game.”
          This course has been featured in US Airways Magazine and Golf Digest and is certainly a hidden gem for Greenville, tucked quietly along I385 on Villa Road.
          According to www.crosswinds-golf.com, the course provides “challenging holes for all levels of golfers, both beginners and experienced alike.  Holes vary in length from 84 yards to 180 yards.  The longest hole can actually play up to 210 yards.  The large, undulating bent greens are consistently some of the fastest and best maintained in the area.  Lights allow players to play after work or even after dinner.”
          Signature holes were designed by the likes of Tom Fazio, Pete Dye, Rees Jones, Arnold Palmer Design, and hometown pride, Jay Haas.  For a complete listing of who designed each hole or for hours, rates, and events, visit www.crosswinds-golf.com

Southwest Airlines' Spirit Magazine Mentions Cross Winds
          "And in an area rich with golf courses, one stands out: Each of the 18 holes at Cross Winds Golf Course was designed by a different architect including Tom Fazio and Arnold Palmer."  

Craig Perks Enjoys a Round at Cross Winds
Cross Winds Golf Club was honored to have Craig Perks, the 2002 Players Champion & Lead Commentator for the Golf Channel, to come visit our Par-3 course and play. Craig had a some very nice comments to say about our course, located in Greenville, SC.  

 

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Craig said:  

"I've played Par 3 Courses all over the world. This is the finest that I have played. The variety of all holes and condition of the greens were outstanding." 

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