Lake Toxaway Country Club has a very interesting past. It all started in the early 1900s when a group of investors from Pittsburgh formed the Toxaway Company. After foregoing their initial plan to mine the land, they took on an even bigger project: damming the Toxaway River and creating a vacation paradise at Lake Toxaway. A few years after the dam was built and the lake was created, they built the Toxaway Inn and a 9-hole golf course, which played host to the likes of Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, R.J. Reynolds, and the Vanderbilts.
In 1916 two hurricanes brought an overwhelming amount of rain which led to the bursting of the Lake Toxaway Dam, thus burying the hotel and golf club. With no more lake, the vacation industry in the area dried up as well and the Toxaway Inn never reopened. In the late 1940s, the structure was torn down and the Inn’s contents were auctioned off.
Fast forward to 1960. Reg Heinitsh, Sr., and a group of investors came up with the idea of restoring the area to its turn-of-the-century appeal. They formed the Lake Toxaway Company and bought up 9,000 acres of property around the old lakebed at an average price of $50 per acre. They cleared the area where the lake had been, rebuilt the dam, and restored the lake to its original level, 3,010 feet above sea level. They began selling parcels of land around the lake as private home sites and gave property owners access to the private lake. Then in 1963, the Lake Toxaway Country Club was built and today, the Country Club is surrounded by a thriving community of almost 1,100 homes in a community surrounded by Hawk Mountain, Panthertail Mountain, Cold Mountain, and Mount Toxaway, along with several wilderness areas totaling more than 10,000 acres. The Heinitsh family still owns the country club to this day.
Although the lake and the golf course share the spotlight as the centerpiece of the community, the club’s newest amenity isn’t far behind. The Lake Club takes full advantage of the natural drop in elevation as you move toward the lake and in February 2021, the club was awarded 2nd Place by Golf Inc. Magazine for the 2021 Best New Amenities Competition. It’s the perfect location and offers an unobstructed view of the lake. The new 3,000-square-foot heated pool has a wading shelf, bubblers, and a perimeter overflow edge. There are two strategically placed lap lanes marked across the bottom of the pool which is also well-suited for water aerobics. The pool deck provides ample opportunities to soak up some rays and sit with family and friends under shaded umbrellas with plenty of lounging space. The deck area is huge and is perfect for private parties, gatherings, and meeting friends.
There’s a new bath house located on the pool terrace with restrooms, lockers, and an outdoor shower. Adjacent to the pool is the Youth Activities building which offers a safe gathering place for the younger crowd. Inside you’ll find air hockey and ping-pong tables and an assortment of other games. You’ll also see a new sidewalk and landscaped entrance with a gate as you walk into the pool area.
In the event you get hungry lying in the sun, the Lake Club Grille overlooks the pool and serves many purposes. Not only is it the perfect place for sunbathers to get a bit to eat while at the pool, but it also serves as a halfway house for golfers making the turn and those visiting by boat. The Grille serves a casual fare along with pizza and a full liquor license, all in a relaxed atmosphere. You’ll see patrons in bathing suits, flip-flops, golf attire, and deck shoes.
The 18-hole championship golf course at Lake Toxaway Country Club underwent a $9 million course renovation project at the hands of golf course architect Kris Spence in 2008. Not only did he rebuild greens and tees – he totally changed 14 holes, bringing the golf course at Lake Toxaway Country Club to a new level. I never played the course prior to the renovation but members I spoke with said that it took the course and the club to a whole new level. Apparently, the new layout is a lot more challenging and is no longer considered a quaint mountain golf course. Regardless of how good or bad you play the mountain views are spectacular at every turn.
The course features beautifully manicured Bentgrass greens, tees, and fairways, with bluegrass roughs and some attractive tall fescue native areas. Although it’s considered a mountain golf course, most holes play downhill or from elevated tee boxes, making it enjoyable for everyone, regardless of their skill level. Wide fairways and a lot of easy-to-find bailout areas make the course fun for beginners while low handicappers who appreciate a good risk/reward opportunity or hitting a challenging shot into a well-protected green. The course is fun to play regardless of your ability and, from what I saw, it’s quite walkable.
The first hole is one that I will remember for a while, not for its difficulty but for its beauty. It’s a 362-yard, par 4, dogleg right that starts with a tee shot over a creek and pond on the right side with trees on the left. There are a couple of bunkers on the right just past the creek. A good drive will leave an uphill shot with a short iron or wedge into the green. Front pin placements can be deceiving; whatever you do, take enough club to reach the middle of the green, regardless of pin position. There’s a false front and anything hit on the front part of the green will roll back down, picking up speed as it goes and leaving a difficult up and down to save par. It’s one of the best starting holes in the area.
Lake Toxaway Country Club has one of the best practice and learning facilities in the area, if not the state. The Tom Fazio Golf Learning Center is a 20-acre facility and a great place to introduce young family members to the game and hone your skills. The Club’s team of PGA Professionals offers a comprehensive player development program using Trackman swing analysis. They offer custom club fitting services and ongoing training programs. After a vigorous practice session, members can enjoy their favorite beverages at the Learning Center’s open-air pavilion overlooking the facility.
Lake Toxaway Country Club is a private country club with a full membership and a waiting list. However, there are a couple of ways to get on the course. The first is to rent a home in the community. Guests staying in certain rental homes enjoy access to all the amenities of the Country Club. The second option involves less of a commitment. The nearby Greystone Inn offers a Par-fect Golf Getaway Package that includes a two-night hotel stay, a round of golf for two, and a host of other hotel amenities. The Greystone Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has enjoyed tremendous success. It has been featured in more than 200 magazine and newspaper articles in the US and abroad. It’s a hotel stay you won’t soon forget.
The Lake Toxaway Country Club website has links to the Greystone Inn and property rentals. Visit them at www.laketoxawaycc.com.