The Yeamans Hall Club is located in Charleston, South Carolina and the golf course was designed in 1925 by Seth Raynor. It is a low-key club and one of the gems of the golfing world. Until now, lovers of Yeamans Hall have had to make themselves content with the spectacular chapter in Legendary Golf Clubs of the American East by John de St. Jorre and Anthony Edgeworth. The chapter gives you a very good feel for what the Yeamans Hall experience is all about: world-class golf, southern charm, an idyllic setting and a feeling of splendid isolation.
Lovers of Yeamans Hall (your truly included) have a new reason to celebrate. The club recently (2010) published a history titled The Cottages and Architects of Yeamans Hall. The book was written by Charlton deSaussure, Jr. and the photographs in the book were taken by Charlotte Caldwell. deSaussure is a lawyer in Charles who lives at Yeamans Hall.
One of the founders of Yeamans Hall was architect James Gamble Rogers who designed the clubhouse, the quadrangle of guest cottages, the golf house, gatehouse and staff lodging. Rogers was one of the most talented architects of his day and as the book describes, “What Olmsted brought to the property, Rogers brought to the buildings.” The book pays a massive tribute to Rogers and his vision of what Yeamans Hall could be.
The book includes a copy of the original land plan as laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. in 1924. The plan originally contemplated two golf courses and 255 home sites for the 1,000 acre former plantation site. The Great Depression put a halt to the development and afterwards the 35 proprietors decided to leave the number of houses to those already built, which is where it stands today. The original 35 cottages were built between 1927 and 1938.
The bulk of the book is devoted to a detailed look at the 35 private cottages, although the author weaves in history, anecdotes and interesting stories throughout. The history also recounts visits by many famous golfers over the years including Arnold Palmer, Ben Crenshaw and Bob Hope.
Webster’s dictionary defines a cottage as “A dwelling of a small farmer” or “small, one-family house”. The Yeamans Hall definition of a cottage, while not quite on the scale of the “cottages” in Newport, Rhode Island, are none-the-less, quite elaborate. Interspersed throughout the book are also vintage photos, facts of interest and newspaper or magazine articles about Yeamans Hall. An especially interesting one shows Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, USN and friends walking at Yeamans Hall in 1942. The first cottage was designed by Charleston architect Albert Simons and almost half of all the cottages were built by either Simons, his partner Samuel Lapham or by Rogers. The cottages at Yeamans Hall all have names. The “Colt” cottage was built for the designer of the Colt .45 pistol. deSaussure has done extensive research in compiling this delightful history and gives an interesting account of the families of each of the original cottage owners. The “Lamont” cottage was built by one of J.P. Morgan’s partners. All 35 cottages are pictured in the book.
Yeamans Hall has a timeless quality to it. Like the city of Charleston, it has a gentility and quaintness about it that are unique.
One of the finest experiences a golfer can have in my view is driving down the long entry drive through the moss-draped live oaks and rolling topography after you pass the front guard gate at Yeamans Hall. The legendary sports writer Grantland Rice summed up Yeamans Hall in an article published in 1927 and it is still the perfect description of the place today: “The Golf Course Most Marvelous in the U.S. “
The course designer, Seth Raynor wrote “The encircling trees give a warmth to the course in the wintertime, which is very delightful. This, combined with the invigorating climate and all the other fine features this spot contains, is bound to make one fall in love with golf at Yeamans Hall.”