Story by Ian Guerin
MURRELLS INLET, S.C. | Mike Stout is only partially through his transition from New Jersey to the Myrtle Beach area. Yet, he’s already found one of his favorite golf courses. Indian Wells Golf Club, located mere miles south of city limits and from Stout’s soon-to-be full-time home, has given the regular golfer every reason to make it part of his rotation.
“I think it’s a pretty decent value. Some of the courses down here, they can overcharge a little bit. But this a good value,” Stout said after another of his recent rounds at Indian Wells. “It’s a fun course to play. You see what you’ve got to do. If you’ve got to hit a 3-wood to a certain location, you see what you’ve got to do. If you execute the shot, then you feel good about yourself that you were able to pull it off. It’s not tricked up; it’s pretty straight forward. ”Stout’s mention of the 3-wood wasn’t coincidental.
Repeat players here have noticed - and taken advantage of - the wide berth of club selections, including off the tees on even the par 4s and 5s. Driver isn’t always the best play, and those who elect to go without it frequently find it a better play for their game. That can for golfers of all skill levels and driving ability because that’s what Gene Hamm was going for. He wanted a course that would be appealing for all while also able to stand the test of time.
The renowned architect put the property through a massive redesign in the early 2000s after its original 1984 opening. What he accomplished in the latest go-around was a shot-happy 18 holes that stretch to just 6,225 from the white tees and even a relatively shot 6,624 from the championship. Seniors are teeing off from a hair over 5,800 and the ladies’ tees chime in at less than 4,900.
What Indian Wells lacks in distance, it makes up for in other obstacles. Fourteen holes feature in-play water (including a number that craft forced carries on the first or second shot), with another nine shaped by fairway bunkers. From there, Hamm then hugged 14 of his greens with at least two bunkers. Considering he removed many of those and a whole bunch of trees during the renovation, it meant the finished product even better represented his ultimate vision for a friendly course that was inviting to all.
“The course is in tremendous shape,” Stout said. “The rough is [kept] up. The fairways are in perfect condition. Some people like to have good tee boxes. That, to me doesn’t matter. But the tee boxes are nice. And the greens are in great shape. I would give them a 10 the way they’re rolling. Wherever you hit ‘em, they’re going to roll there. If you’re a good putter, you’re going to score on this course.” Stout intends on having plenty of chances to do exactly that.
GET RIGHT TO IT ON NO. 1
Hamm wanted players to get into an accurate mindset right away. Via the No. 8 handicap opening hole, the 471-yard par 5 positions a bunker off the right of the fairway just enough to get into your head off the tee by squeezing the forward landing area. Navigate that properly, and there’s a lengthy pond stretching the entire left side and three greenside bunkers protecting the smaller target area still awaiting you. Is it impossible? Certainly not. But it will get you thinking immediately.