Story by Ian Guerin
LONGS, S.C. | Early in 2018, Jack Nicklaus made his voice heard loud and clear to a gaggle of reporters in Florida during a PGA Tour event.
Nicklaus was concerned over the sheer distance golf balls were traveling and believes it is time to regulate some of it out of the game. The Golden Bear, among other concerns, thought it was taking too much of the strategy out of the game.
His take can be tied to so much of his design at Long Bay Club, Myrtle Beach.
It is here that fairway mounding is matched with a consistent squeeze off the tee, and approach zones meet tiered greens. Long Bay, as Nicklaus very much wanted when the club opened in 1988, penalizes those who try to go big without perfect precision.
“I don’t play a lot of golf, but from what I’ve seen, it feels like something he would do,” said La Plata, Mary., resident Tony Woolsey after a recent round.
From the fishhook-shaped fairway on No. 1 to the mirrored wasted bunkers on No. 4 to the island green on No. 13 to the dogleg bend around a pond on the finisher, everything about Long Bay begs players to not take one of Nicklaus’ two Grand Strand designs lightly.
Easy shots are few and far between. The chances for mistakes to be magnified are everywhere.
The numbers prove it.
Among the max distance of 7,025 yards (6,209 from the whites; 4,944 from the ladies), there are eight holes with waste bunkers, including three in which they anchor both side of the same fairway. Twelves holes have regular bunkers reachable from the tee box. Exactly half the holes are significantly affected by various forms of water, from sliver streams to oversized ponds.
And multi-tiered greens make getting ready to pull the putter out of the bag feel like anything but a relief.
Woolsey said it best: Long Bay will make you pay for mishits. But he also said it comes with a silver lining.
“I think it’s awesome,” he said. “The fairways are beautiful. The layout, you can’t get much better. The greens are in pristine shape; they’re fast, which is the way I like them. I think it’s a great course.”
NO. 16 A HELLISH START TO THE STRETCH RUN
The par-5 15th at Long Bay steals its shares of golf balls with a stream cutting north-south from the green all the way past the tee box. But the very next hole can actually be even more treacherous without a drop of water to its name.
A slight dogleg right cuts the 380-yard par-4 16th in half. But what truly makes the hole stand out - much like some of its cohorts at Long Bay - is the oversized waste bunker that hugs both sides of the fairway and actually cuts across it at one point. From above, it can best be described as a psychedelic-looking “H”.
With much of it serving as the primary cart surface, the waste bunker must be avoided (especially off the tee) if players want a realistic shot to go for the green in regulation.