Story by Ian Guerin
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | Since the day we first tuned into a golf tournament on television or grabbed a club, we had it beaten into our heads that the game worked in a numerically fluid fashion.
You start on No. 1, wrap up on No. 18.
Only problem was that over the years, that meant holes sat completely unused for hours on end during the peak times of day. Courses around the country decided to enact a double-teeing standard that still confuses some players, even in South Carolina’s golf-rich Grand Strand.
In essence, the practice starts the day with roughly half of its tee sheet starting on No. 1, and the rest on No. 10. The course will run tee times for approximately two hours, at which point the respective front lines of players make the turn and head to the other nine.The course will then wait a specified amount of time - typically 2-3 hours, before starting the next block of doubled tee times in order to maximize usage without overloading the course.The perceived sacrifice was some designers’ focus on ending the day with the best possible finishing hole. That thought process is somewhat flawed. Certain tracks in and around Myrtle Beach have No. 9s so splendidly laid out that many would argue they could easily be the 18th. Here are three par 4s and two par 5s that certainly fit that description.
With heavy mounding to the left and water to the right, you’ll want to be stuck in the middle with your tee shot here. The ninth hole at Dye Club ensures the 405 yards from the standard member tees gets the most out of its distance by cutting the margin for error to a minimum. The wide landing zone on the front half of the par 4’s fairway is trimmed in half on the back end, where the oversized pond and the aforementioned elevation squeeze the approach to the ultimate target.
The final hole of this Roger Rulewich front nine has one of the greatest visual distractions in the area - the Intracoastal Waterway. The south-flowing body plays parallel and in the same direction as the 444-yard par 4. The downward-sloping drop midway through the hole leaves big hitters who can keep it straight with a short iron shot into the green thanks to a helpful roll. A slight miscue to the left puts an oversized bunker in play; to the right brings in a tree guarding the right edge of the green.
One of the two holes here recognized in the 2017 Perfect Round series (along with Dye Club’s No. 9), Prestwick’s front-nine finisher stretches to 537 yards from the championship tees. The distance is intimidating given the need for nearly perfect second and third shots while preparing for the two monster trouble spots. The pond up the left side is daunting, but it pales in comparison to the ultra-deep and recently renovated bunkers along the right of the green. Find those, and you’ll need a stellar out to keep on a par pace.
The beast that Tom Fazio elected to end with is actually afforded to those who finish on No. 9 - not 18. After all, TPC’s front-nine closer is the most difficult hole on the course, regardless of which set of tees are being utilized. After traversing a short natural grass zone off the tee, players must also navigate troublesome tree lines on both sides, water on the right, an uphill stretch toward the green and then a multi-tiered surface once you get there. It’s delved out more than its share of scorecard blows over the years.
Measuring just 490 yards from the tips, this is the shortest of the par 5s at Tradition. But Ron Garl’s hole here is cut in half by a thick natural marsh. Even from the whites (which measure 453 yards), the front edge of that marsh line is 273 yards out. Basically no one without a tour card is carrying it and must adjust accordingly. What’s more, the post-marsh portion of the fairway is a slight uphill line to the green, taking away most players’ realistic chance at reaching in two.