Category Archives: Course Spotlight

Southern Oregon Pear Country Harvest–Centennial Golf Club

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Centennial is a “must do” for the golfer who’s looking for a superior quality course with a unique layout.

Southern Oregon is full of golf courses.  Twelve in the Rogue Valley alone.  Some stand out more than others, but all have something that makes them unique, and most can point to some accolade, from some magazine or poll that voted them “best” in some category.  Sometimes we don’t pay attention to those claims because, well, you know, sometimes the ratings don’t match the round.  One course DOES live up to its ranking, Centennial Golf Club.   If you’re travelling through Southern Oregon, Centennial is a “must do” for the golfer who’s looking for a superior quality course with a unique layout.

Nestled next to the foothills of the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon, Centennial opened its fairways to rave reviews in May of 2006 and has continued to climb in the ranks of “best” courses in the country.

The course is long, and boasts a choice between 5 different tees, from a spectacular 7,309-yards to an easier 5,244, guaranteeing a pleasant experience for golfers of every level.  The course is walkable, with a few uphill climbs on the front nine.  Most younger golfers use a three wheeled cart.  Golf carts are available for those who prefer them.  Other amenities at Centennial include an expansive practice facility featuring a grass driving range, state of the art chipping facility, and a large putting practice area.

Most golfers with a single digit to 12 handicap play from the purple tees (Centennial’s signature color).  Twelve and up handicappers generally play from the whites, although even the white tees, at 6,401 yards, provide a formidable challenge for the 225 yard driver.

The par-72 layout, designed by two-time PGA Tour winner and 1977 U.S. Amateur Champion, John Fought, offers spectacular views of the Rogue Valley. The picturesque landscape of the surrounding mountains makes you feel like you’re playing in a huge natural stadium. Every time you hit a good shot, you’ll swear you can hear the roar of the cheering crowd in the stands.

The course itself was built on an old pear orchard.  One of the three houses on 143the golf course sits next to the 14th green.  Built in the early 1900’s by a local doctor, now it ministers to the ailments suffered from hopeful yet errant golf shots on the long par 3 hole.  My favorite holes are #4, a 213 yard downhill par 3 (I love to watch golf shots fly from an elevated tee), 134_cropand another par 3, hole #6.  At a mere 186 yards, the #6 tee box is only slightly elevated, but the green slants toward a pond.  Even if you land on the upper part of the green, it could roll clear to the bottom.  Heaven forbid you should miss it to the uphill side and have to chip on.  Good luck with that!  Another hole I really like is the 281 yard, par 4, #13.  141Most try to drive the green.  Some do.  However, the green is guarded on the front by deep sand traps.  If you got the guts, take the shot.  My most challenging hole, justly awarded the most difficult hole in Southern Oregon, is #3. At 406 yards from the white tees, it should 131be an easy par 4, but it’s the steep, uphill second shot, to a narrow landing area that makes the hole difficult.

The fairways are expertly manicured to crisp “semi-tight lies,” and the greens are quick, firm and true (be sure to bring your backspin with you).  You’ll be impressed with the shape of the course, as well as the consistency of the terrain.  There was not a “blemish” in sight the day I played.  Matt Grove, Centennial’s Maintenance Superintendent, makes sure everything is properly watered, groomed, and prepared.  His crew is polite, and attentive to the flow of the golfers.  Attention to details is the norm at Centennial.

The service in the Pro Shop holds true as well.  Even at the busiest times, the guys behind the counter are courteous, friendly, and efficient.  They all know your name after seeing you once.  According to General Manager, Vince Domenzain, “It’s all about the customer. When someone comes out to play,” he says, “they want to have a good time.  Everything we do is geared toward that goal.”  The Pro Shop is also generously stocked with everything a golfer needs from clothes to clubs.

The clubhouse’s rustic open beam construction offers a casual elegance to its country style atmosphere, making it just right for the after round camaraderie with your golf mates. You can add up your score in the Centennial Grille and catch up on the day’s sports by watching one the two big screen TV’s, or you can sit on the patio overlooking the 18th green while enjoying your favorite beverage and snack.  The Grille has a full service bar and menu. I had the Reuben Sandwich.  I was glad I did.  My partner had the Chicken Wings.  He said they were delicious.

Golfers in the region have already come to their own conclusion, putting the Centennial golf experience on a pedestal when they voted the layout as the No. 1 Best Golf Course in the region.  When you are traveling through Southern Oregon, stop by Centennial.  You’ll vote it #1, too.



Founders Club at Pawleys Island Golf Course Review – Tried and True!

The Founders Club on Pawleys Island, about 20 minutes south of Myrtle Beach on Highway 17, opened for play in 2008 and attracts golfers because of its unique appeal: sand instead of long, unforgiving rough. The course was designed by Thomas Walker, former lead designer for Gary Player Design, on what used to be the Sea Gull Golf Club, a Gene Hamm design that dates back to 1966. Like much of the surrounding area, the original course was relatively flat. Walker changed the look and feel of the course by moving around over a quarter million cubic yards of dirt. The $7 million renovation project included a new Lowcountry-style clubhouse, overlooking the 18th green.

Since Walker’s redo in 2008, Founders Club has received numerous accolades including one of the 30 Best Courses You Can Play in South Carolina by the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel in 2009 and again in 2011. Founders Club was also named Myrtle Beach Golf Course of the Year by the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association in 2011.

As a result of all the renovation work, Founders Club features sloping fairways, bunkers, elevation changes, and mounding, lots of mounding. Overgrown rough has been replaced with waste areas filled with native beach sand, pine straw and grasses. Also sprinkled throughout the course are Lowcountry wetlands, towering live oak and pine trees and azaleas which, when in bloom, add to the beauty of the layout. You won’t find many traditional cart paths out here, instead what you have are waste areas that are in play. Another feature that sets Founders Club apart from other courses in the area are the Emerald Bermuda greens. This unique strain of grass withstands the summer heat and requires less water than other grasses; it also has less grain.

Five sets of tees allow players to choose their level of difficulty. From the Black Tees, Founders Club plays 7,007 yards with a course rating of 74.2 and a slope of 142. Big numbers from the Back tees. Mere mortal golfers will find that the White tees (6,394 yards/71.2 course rating/133 slope) will give them all the golf they can handle and allow them to leave with a little dignity. Seniors move up to just over 5500 yards while the Ladies will enjoy a length of 4,805 yards. Since you know your game better than anyone, picking the right set of tees will maximize your enjoyment.

With such a premium on land in the area, there is no formal driving range. Instead there is a hitting net which can accommodate 6 players at a time and a practice putting green where you can also hit some chip shots.

Memorable Holes

Number 2: Par 4, 390 yards (White Tees). Standing on the tee, this long par 4 looks intimidating, with water all down the right side and trees and a waste bunker down the left. The landing area is generous, so take advantage of it. Favoring the left side of the fairway will take the water out of play and give the best angle for approach into a large green with a long, narrow bunker on the right and a small deep bunker about half way back on the left. Keep it on play to the green and you could end up with a low score.

Number 3: Par 3, 166 yards (White Tees). Because of the shallow depth of the green, distance off the tee is crucial. It’s all carry over water to an oval green set on an angle. A deep bunker in front guards the right side. If the bunkers behind the green come into play, you weren’t listening when I talked about distance control. The green slopes gently back towards the water.

Number 9: Par 5, 493 yards (White Tees). For most, Number 9 is the first hole you see when you enter the property; it’s the one right along the road. Most golfers will comment on the way the sand slopes down into the pond, making it a great looking hole. That being said, if you want to post a low score on this hole, it’s best to avoid the pretty sand and water! This hole can best be described as a narrow strip of grass surrounded by sand – and water. You’ll need to carry your tee shot over a large waste bunker and on to one of these narrow strips of grass – aka fairway. The landing area opens up, however two bunkers on the right and infringing water on the left come into play if you hit it too far. The fairway bottlenecks and then opens back up in the landing area with the right-side waste bunker creeping in and the water on the left. Success so far will leave a short iron into a large green protected front right and in the back by large penalizing bunkers. Par is a good score here.

Number 12: Par 5, 491 yards (White Tees). Number 12 looks like a hole straight out of the yardage book of a Scottish golf course with a row of pot bunkers down the middle of the fairway. Most of the time, you want to hit the ball off the tee as far as you can down the middle of the fairway; on this hole it’s not advised! Most players will come up short of the bunkers and have to deal with them on their layup shot. Unless you’re a long ball hitter, you’ll want to hit your layup shot short of the pond and then play your approach shot about 120 yards to a large, receptive green with a deep bunker front left. The fairway is framed on either side by a waste bunker. A challenging but doable hole.

Number 16: Par 3, 135 yards (White Tees). What makes this hole interesting is the deep pot bunker in the front middle of the green. You’ll play your tee shot over a small waste area on to the green. There’s really no bailout area here and you’re going to need to fly it on, so be sure to take enough club off the tee.

Last Word: Founders Club is a difficult but fair golf course. The waste bunkers and pine straw that have replaced the rough are a welcomed change; it’s easier to find your ball and hit out of a waste bunker than some gnarly rough. In fact, every hole has a sand challenge of some sort.  There are only a couple of holes that require a forced carry, even for the ladies.

Founders Club appeals to just about any type of golfer, whether you like to grip-it-and-rip-it or play it conservatively. Hit the ball as far as you can every time or layup and lay back and play it more strategically. You can play it differently each time.

Some players feel that Founders Club plays tough. If you feel the same way after a few holes, consider playing one tee forward from where you normally play at another golf course. If all else fails, the PGA professionals at Founders Club are always happy to give you lessons and help improve your game. Start by hitting some balls into the net to get warmed up and then head out for some real-time on-course learning.

Whether you’re coming down in the spring as part of a larger group or renting a home in the area during the summer months and just want to get away for a few hours, Founders Club welcomes you as a guest. And, if it’s been raining for a few days – as it’s known to do during the summer – odds are that the course is open and playable; it’s one of the best draining courses in the area. If you play a variety of courses in the area, you’ll find that Founders Club is one of the more unique, challenging and fun courses in the area.

The Founders Club at Pawleys Island is a proud member of the Waccamaw Golf Trail. For more information or to book your next round, visit the website at

True Blue Plantation Golf Club Course Review – Myrtle Beach at Its Best!

True Blue is one of those courses that, after you get a taste of it, you just want more. The course is one of only a handful of Mike Stranz courses; in fact, there are two here, Caledonia Golf and Fish Club being the other. True Blue is built on the site of a once thriving indigo and rice plantation.

Stranz was more than a golf course architect, he was a golf course artist. His courses seem to blend in perfectly with the natural surroundings. True Blue seems to rise out of the ground like a Phoenix rising from the ashes; it’s also one of the most creative golf courses you will ever play. Stranz’ creativity in design requires creativity in your shot making as you make your way around a course that has incorporated salt marshes, wetlands and maritime forests of twisting live oaks and pine trees into the layout creating memories that are one of a kind.

True Blue Golf Club was Mike Strantz’s fourth signature golf course, and opened to rave reviews in February 1998. Caledonia opened in 1994 and shortly after True Blue opened, Stranz was named “Architect of the Year” by Golf World. The course is not without its share of notoriety, being ranked 77th on Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Public Courses in America list and 6th best public course in South Carolina. Golf Digest has also seen fit to rank True Blue the 29th best course in South Carolina (8th among public courses) and gave it 4 ½ stars for “Places to Play”.  But this course is not just for the guys; Golf for Women Magazine recognized True Blue as one of the country’s Top 100 Courses for Women. The course is an absolute must-play for any golfer visiting Myrtle Beach.

Sand is a legitimate concern at True Blue as it figures into every hole on the course, and some of it will penalize you severely. Technically, there are no bunkers; every grain of sand out here is considered a waste area. It’s packed down in many areas so, unless you’re adept at hitting off your kitchen table, it can be a little tricky. Feel free to ground away, take some practice swings, even drive the cart through it; whatever you have to do to get the ball on the green. Because that’s when the fun starts!

Most golfers have never experienced greens like this before in their lives. They are some of the most unique sizes and shapes around. And, unlike designers who like to bury elephants in their greens, Stranz relies on lengthy angular greens – many slanting from back to front – putting an emphasis on slope and speed for longer putts.

True Blue offers a set of tees to fit everyone’s game. When in doubt, play the shorter set, you’ll have more fun. Bit off more than you can chew out here and you could be in for a long day. The Back/Gold Tees measure 7,126 yards with a course rating of 74.5 and a 138 slope. Most golfers will find that the White Tees (6,375 yards/71.1/132) will give them all the golf they can handle and still leave with a little dignity. Of course, that part depends on how you fare on Number 18, more on that in a minute. Seniors typically play from the Black Tees (5,736/68.2/123) while ladies will enjoy themselves from the Green Tees (4,995/69.3/125).

Here are a few of the most memorable holes:

Favorite Par 3: number 3, 141 yards (White Tees). This hole can make or break your round early on. Depending on the pin position there can be a 25-yard difference between front and back. The hole plays a lot tougher with the pin in front because the landing area is smaller.  Also, if the pin’s up front and you hit it short or long, you’re in the bunker, which sits well below the putting surface. Regardless of pin position, it’s all carry over water and sand to an island green. If the pin is in the back, play to the right of the hole and let the ball funnel down towards it. Par is a good score here. This is a good display of Mike Stranz the artist.

Favorite Par 4: Number 18, 406 Yards. Stranz has indeed saved the best for last. Water is in play all the way down the left side and the fairway slopes off on the right into a large waste bunker. It’s 200+ yards to carry the bunker just across the water and if you can find the middle of the fairway off the tee, you’re halfway there. Play your approach shot into a long narrow green that angles back left to front right and slopes down towards the water which protects the entire left side.  Once you get on the green the fun begins as onlookers from the clubhouse porch cheer and jeer your efforts. This may be as close as you ever get to playing in front of a gallery so relish the moment.

Favorite Par 5: Number 1, 499 yards (White Tees). For my money, True Blue starts you out with the best hole on the course and builds from there. Waste bunkers frame the left side of the fairway on this long dogleg left, leading up to a creek in front of a well elevated green, meaning you’ll have to use an aerial approach. For most players it’s a three-shot hole because of the creek. To complicate matters, there’s a bunker that wraps around most of the green which is very narrow, yet receptive. A good-looking golf hole that can be tamed.

Best Chance for a Low Number: Number 4. Par 5, 493 yards. A low number can be had with two good shots back-to-back as long as you’re willing to risk it. A well struck drive in the neighborhood of 250 yards that finds the middle or left side of the fairway will leave a second shot of around 220 yards into the green. Here’s where the risk comes in: it’s all carry over water with sand catching anything left or right of the putting surface. It’s one of the smaller greens on the course but receptive to long approach shots. Whatever you do, avoid the pot bunker to the right of the green; it’s a tough up and down. Go for it; you didn’t come here to lay up!

Last Word: True Blue certainly lives up to its reputation as one of the best golf courses in South Carolina. The late Mike Stranz sure did himself proud. Other than the par 3s, most of the holes are doglegs, some of which are created by the presence of the waste bunkers. This places an emphasis on distance and direction control. Spend too time in the waste bunkers and you’ll wish you went to the beach. A lot of the rough is cut just slightly longer than the fairway which tends to let the ball roll more, which can be both good and bad.

Many of the fairways are framed by waste bunkers, which adds to the natural beauty of the course. As a whole, the course is challenging without being overly taxing. It will make you play every club in your bag, and play them well. Also, there are some pretty significant elevation changes (+/- a club or two) which is unique for this part of the state

True Blue has some pretty impressive practice facilities too. Range balls are included with your greens fees and it’s highly advised that you hit all the balls they give you. There are a number of targets at varying distances so you can hit every club in your bag. Be sure to practice your bunker play; if you can make it around this course without having to play out of the sand, you’ve accomplished something!

Inside the clubhouse you will find a pro shop packed with all kinds of logoed gear from top apparel companies and some new up and comers. The True Blue Grillroom serve up all of you favorite post-golf libations as well as some authentic Lowcountry food. Breakfast is served from 7 am – 10:30 AM and lunch is available from 11 am – 3 pm.

True Blue is a proud member of the Waccamaw Golf Trail. For more information or to book your next round visit