Story by Ian Guerin
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | Every now and again, we simply don’t want to question our club selection prior to putting the tee in the ground. Drivers were made for a reason, and especially with some of the new-age models (and even the older ones), they weren’t meant to be kept in the bag. Fortunately, several courses up and down South Carolina’s Grand Strand golfing mecca leave little to the imagination when it comes those choices.
The following five were made to feature the big dog time and again without heavy penalties for the slightest of misses.
BAREFOOT RESORT & GOLF, FAZIO COURSE
Whereas Tom Fazio’s design at TPC of Myrtle Beach is typically considered on the tighter side, his layout at Barefoot feels closer to the other end of the spectrum. The course features wide landing areas in the fairways and all but begs players to go for the green on at least one par 4. The trick of this course is to navigate the intense greens, but if your game off the tee is on point, scoring possibilities are there for the taking.
FOUNDERS CLUB AT PAWLEYS ISLAND
By this point, anyone who has so much as looked into Founders Club recognizes the heavy use of sand Thomas Walker put into effect when he flipped the nines for the course’s 2008 opening atop the old Sea Gull Golf Club. But what many don’t pick up on about the overbearing waste bunkers is that they are actually not all that hard to hit out of. Even on the holes where the fairways slope down into the well-maintained sand, a simple club up approach can negate the challenge.
MYRTLEWOOD GOLF CLUB, PALMETTO COURSE
Folks frequently want to know which courses play at a faster rate. Their time is valuable, after all. One of the regular answers to that inquiry is Palmetto. It’s not about rangers harping at players. In spots where the fairways appear squeezed, those tall pines and the underlying needles are thinner than expected and for the most part allow for solid second shots, most of which still give players a chance at going after the green.
SHAFTESBURY GLEN GOLF CLUB
Off the beaten path in north Conway, Shaftesbury has carved out a niche for itself in less than two decades since it opened. Much of its reputation encircles the 50 or so sand traps, many of which are an absolute disaster waiting to happen. What first-time players find out is that nearly all of them are right around the greens, and the space of turf leading up to it is relatively unadulterated when it comes to hazards or thick tree lines next to the fairways.
WORLD TOUR GOLF LINKS
A few miles to the west, the tree lines of the Carolina Forest section of Myrtle Beach dominate the design strategy. At World Tour, though, the course had to give something to make the replica layout work. Open fairways, some of which are playable via the adjoining hole, leave nothing but green for the eye to see. Be it the back tees or the fronts, only a very small number of the par 4s require the type of precision to even question the use of the driver.