SEABROOK ISLAND, S.C. - It's just another lazy, Low Country Saturday at Seabrook Island Resort just south of Charleston, and the gentlemen and ladies make their way from the resort's two golf courses to the 19th hole in hopes of a cold drink and a some good conversation.
That's right - gentlemen and ladies.
On this day, the courses, the practice range and the pro shop are buzzing with women, something that was not the case at most of America's golf courses just a few years back. But women's' entry into the game of golf has been a fast and furious one, and participation levels show no signs of slowing down.
It's hard to establish a cause/effect relationship when it comes to the meteoric rise of women players on courses throughout American. Could it be the Tiger Woods phenomena, or the emergence of LPGA stars like Anika Sorenstam and Karie Webb?
"It is almost like it has become socially acceptable to bring your wife or girlfriend out on the golf course," says Jennifer Messmer of Charlotte, N.C. "I feel totally comfortable out here, especially since this is a resort atmosphere."
The atmosphere may be reassuring, but are the courses themselves accommodating for these saddle-shoe wearing golf goddesses?
The Ocean Winds Course plays to 5500 yards for the women, a mere 550 yards shorter than the men's white tees. The front nine plays to 2500 yards from the reds, just over 100 yards shorter than the whites. The courses par 5's are reachable only for the longest of female hitters, and the par 3's and 4's offer little relief.
"It is a grind," Messmer says. "But you have to take into consideration the scenery, and that there isn't that much trouble once you get off the tee."
Ocean Winds difficulty is reflected in its ratings: The Willard Byrd designed track plays to a 73.3 course rating and a 127 slope rating from the red tees.
Seabrook's head golf professional Alan Walker says there are few, if any complaints about Ocean Winds from female players. However, he and his staff admit that the course's length can even be a strain on the better women's players.
"Ocean Wind's front nine is really long for the ladies," Walker says. "When we do anything over there, we are looking at adjusting that for women. There are also some carries over water on the par 3's that we want to fix."
Walker says that the Crooked Oaks Course, because of its recent $2.4 million renovation, is the more woman-friendly of the two tracks.
"It won't beat the women up as much, but it is still fairly long," Walker says.
Crooked Oaks slope rating from the red tees is 121, while the course rating is 71.
Whether or not you feel that walking is an integral part of the game of golf, let's face it: When vacationing at a high profile golf resort, it is almost a given that hoofing it is not allowed.
Not so at Seabrook. Golfers are permitted to walk the course any time of day, any day of the week.
"We found that it is something that people want," Walker says. "The rates stay the same because the cart is included in your fees. We find a lot of people doing that in the fall and the winter, but hardly anyone in the summer, as you might expect."