Story by Ian Guerin
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | Saving up for the final hole of the day is easier said than done. Yet, some Myrtle Beach-area courses leave players little choice but to plan ahead. Up and down the Grand Strand golfing mecca, certain designs crescendo into an all-out fight to defend a course’s honor as one worthy of the challenge. Those who have something special left in the tank for one last doozy can walk off these courses knowing they put up their best at crunch time.
GLEN DORNOCH WATERWAY GOLF LINKS
An option for straight-line golf would have an easy option when this course was being laid out the in the mid-1990s. But where’s the fun in that? Instead, players are required to navigate the first part of the marsh connected to the Intracoastal Waterway into a fairway landing area - only to have to come back across to reach the approach zone leading up to a massive shared green directly in front of the club house. The hole is a par 4, but most should probably play it like a five.
It’s not always fair to judge a course by its handicaps, and Grande Dunes is a prime example. Of the six sets of tees available, the back four all necessitate flying - or at least avoiding - a large bunker off the left of the forward portion of the fairway. The problem with simply going to the right, however, is that the large green is protected on three sides by bunkers, thick grasses and the peripheral of the Intracoastal Waterway. Those visuals force some to criss-cross the fairway, shaving much needed distance.
Jack Nicklaus’ north end design is a bevy of hazards that many others have failed to bring to fruition properly over the years. However, he pulled it off with a deft touch. That rings true on his 18th hole at Long Bay, where 368 yards (from the whites) bends 80 degrees or so around a pond. If only that were the lone issue. A fairway tree up the left side adds significant risk for those who want to put a little more pop into their tee shot while avoiding that water. From there, a large bunker protects the front left of the green.
With an oversized pond splitting the parallel finishers on both sides, No. 18 at Prestwick brings about its own distinct frustration level for those wrapping up their rounds. Playing no longer than 441 yards, the fairway draws players back to the right (where that water sits), and those who compensate to back to the left find significant trouble in the form of a mounded hellscape featuring native grasses and a pair of inconvenient bunkers.
Nicknamed Belleme’s Bend, Tidewater’s final hole pushes the limits because the first 17 holes here have already maximized players’ abilities to shove off distractions. Off the tee, there is very little room for error into a fairway landing area squeezed by grass, marshes and a large number of trees big and small. Players who elect to soften up the drive then have little choice but to lay up on the second shot, for the marsh that goes up the entire right side of the fairway cuts across prior to the approach zone, joining with the thick grass line that was on the right.