An altogether different kind of course. So you’re walking the length of two par 3s, or about 220 yards. Along the way, you take out your scorecard. You pencil in the equipment you used and your shots: With your ax, you hit the bull’s-eye. Your arrow nailed the eight-point buck. You riddled Sasquatch with BBs.
Welcome to The Sportsman Trail, the latest and arguably most inventive amenity at The Cliffs — and likely anywhere else.
New at The Cliffs at Keowee Springs, the trail runs about a quarter-mile, roughly the equivalent of two par 3s. Here, 12 stations test your weapons skills. Call it disc golf meets “Survivor” or, maybe, a medieval decathlon through Disney World.
“I think it’s just our president’s inner child coming out,” Ty Roberts says with a fond chuckle as he refers to the trail’s brainchild: Rob Duckett, president at The Cliffs. “I mean, it’s all stuff we all did, or wished we did, when we were kids.”
As the golf course superintendent at The Cliffs at Keowee Springs, Roberts designed the course and began building it last spring with his crew. You can tell just how much fun they had creating each station, working to make every stopover look more like a movie set than just another lane in some shooting range.
Most stations include lifelike foam critters, like wild hogs, turkey, bear, and more, all ready to be shot, pierced, etc. (no hunting crossbows allowed).
The ax-throwing station, where targets are made from trees, looks like a scene from a sawmill. At one of the archery stations, a buck stands near deer blinds amid trees slashed with antler scrapes. Another stopover features a troll cooking steaks at his campfire outside his fortress. And — oh, no! — Sasquatch has raided a campsite, where you see the (mannequin) feet of a victim, so you must dispatch the 500-pound, 8-foot-tall yeti. At the moonshine still, you take out your slingshot. At the Western cattle drive, why, use your repeating air rifle.
“It’s a fun, cool thing, it’s different,” says Brianna Hirsch, The Cliffs director of outdoor pursuits. “It’s not something that you run across every day.”
Hirsch and Roberts say members simply book a time to use the trail, and staffers outfit you with what you’ll need. The equipment, Roberts and Hirsch say, is all top-shelf, and just like at a pro shop, you can pick up ammo and other gear. A staff member accompanies your group all the way through.
“It really adds a whole nice fall, winter, spring element to what we do,” she says. “We’re busier in the summer, but this adds something that people can come down and do in the off-season — of course, it’ll be available during the summer, as well.”
Describing the trail as relatively flat and easily navigable, she hits the same target Roberts does: “It really creates a unique opportunity for people to try something different.”
“It really adds a whole nice fall, winter, spring element to what we do,” she says. “We’re busier in the summer, but this adds something that people can come down and do in the off-season—of course, it’ll be available during the summer, as well.”
Describing the trail as relatively flat and easily navigable, she hits the same target Ty does: “It really creates a unique opportunity for people to try something different.”
This story was featured in Cliffs Living magazine. To read more stories like this one and learn more about The Cliffs, subscribe here.