Story by Ian Guerin
We don’t need to know exactly what was going through a designer’s mind when he laid out a course. But every now and again, we are left wondering about their mental state.
Among South Carolina’s Grand Strand and its 90 or so courses, a handful of holes have confounded players for years. Among them is an undulated rough begging to swallow up tee shots, a par 6 that crosses state lines, a waste-bunkered doozy, a par 3 straight out of your nightmares and a brutal double carry, double dogleg of a par 5.
These holes have led to more than their share of head tilts and eye rolls.
BLACKMOOR GOLF CLUB NO. 8
Players can go the more conservative route - a standard dogleg to the left - on this 370 yarder. But Gary Player’s signature hole didn’t think that was quirky enough. So he accompanied it with a second option, a narrow chute 270 yards directly to the green via a rolling sliver of territory that is quite unforgiving. The longest of hitters can reach the green in one that direction. However, for every one of those that exists, there are 10 players who are punching themselves out of trouble while standing under the tree lines on both sides of that chute.
FARMSTEAD GOLF LINKS NO. 18
At 767 yards, the finisher at Farmstead measures just shy of half a mile from the back tees. And trust us when we tell you it will feel like every inch of it. The only par 6 in the area begins in South Carolina, where part of the course’s back nine plays, and crosses back into North Carolina before you start putting. The mega hole still plays 679 yards from the white tees, and regardless of selection there, the best way to manage the distance is with a solid first shot. That’s because starting with the second, an oversized pond comes into play up the left side.
LONG BAY GOLF CLUB NO. 10
Jack Nicklaus (we’ll be back to him in a moment) toyed with depth perception without the use of water or even trees on what has become one of the most photographed holes at Long Bay. A tuning-fork shaped waste bunker surrounds the final two-thirds of the relatively straight fairway, with bunkering sucking shots too close to the edge on either side down into the sand. Those with a perfect drive down the middle can go for the elevated green of this par 4 in two, but that’s easier said than done.
PAWLEYS PLANTATION GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB NO. 13
Nicklaus was at it again at his other Myrtle Beach-area design, but this time in different fashion. The last line of the description says it all: “Difficulty on this hole will be determined by wind conditions.” That’s because as a mere 69 yards from the middle tees, the marsh-laden hole with a bulk-headed tee and green can be as devastating as any par 5. Any shot that lands on the massive putting surface is a victory and should be appreciated given the large number of balls you’ll see embedded into the surrounding marsh mud.
RIVER HILLS GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB NO. 17
As the round starts to wrap up at River Hills, players heading to the 17th tee box start to see why Tom Jackson’s hole here is considered the signature beauty. When first-time visitors actually put the tee into the ground, they realize they have their work cut out for them. From there, you must jut to the right across a flowing stream onto the fairway. For those who have made it far enough, it’s another carry diagonally left to the final 170 or so yards across another section of that stream. By the time players navigate that stretch, the three green-side bunkers hardly register on the difficult meter.