Tag Archives: SC

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 http://www.waccamawgolftrail.com/courses/show/the-founders-club/

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 http://www.waccamawgolftrail.com/courses/show/true-blue/.

Litchfield Country Club Review – Delighting Grand Strand Golfers for Over 50 Years

Litchfield Country Club on Pawleys Island opened for play in 1966 and is one of the original eight courses built on the Grand Strand. Over the years, the course has evolved and changes have been made but for the most part, Litchfield Country Club has maintained many of its original features, including player-friendly green complexes that leave room for bump-and-run approach shots.

Litchfield carries with it a proud Lowcountry tradition and is built on the former grounds of one of the largest rice plantations on the Waccamaw Neck, as evidenced by the stately plantation-style clubhouse, which is surrounded by live giant oaks that date back centuries.

The golf course was designed by Willard Byrd and has garnered numerous accolades over the years. It has been awarded 4.5 stars by Golf Digest and named one of the magazine’s 2008 “Best Places to Play”. More recently, Litchfield Country Club was voted “2016 Golf Course of the Year” by the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association; an accolade bestowed on a local course, with consideration for course design, conditioning and service all figuring into the equation.

Since opening over 50 years ago, Litchfield’s natural Lowcountry beauty has attracted golfers from around the globe. Set amongst towering oak and pine trees, the course is regarded by many as a shot-maker’s course, with several doglegs that require well-placed tee shots in order to have the best angle into some well-protected greens.

The Blue Tees are the longest and play 6.692 yards. From back here, the course rating is 72.5 with a slope of 131. Many players will have an enjoyable time from the White Tees (6,295/70.6/128) and still leave with their manhood intact. Seniors will be adequately challenged from the Gold Tees (5,912/68.8/124) while the ladies tees measure out at 5,252 yards (74.4/130). A 5th set of tees has been added for junior players and plays 4,096 yards. Everyone will have a great time at Litchfield Country Club, as long as they play from the tees best represented by their handicap.

Litchfield Country Club is full of memorable holes and has some solid par 4 holes; especially the doglegs. Number 6 plays 363 yards from the White tees and requires accuracy off the tee to avoid the large tree on the left at the corner of the dogleg. A fairway or hybrid iron off the tee may be all this required here. Water creeps in up against the fairway on the right side about 80 yards from the green. There’s sand all around the green, so you’ll need to hit an accurate approach shot. At a depth of only 22 feet, number 6 is one of the smaller greens on this layout.

Number 9 (Par 4, 339 yards from the White tees) is a very narrow dogleg right. Best to leave driver in the bag here too. A tee shot short of the first fairway bunker on the left will leave a short pitch shot on to a relatively small, flat green, protected by sand front left and front right. Because of the positioning of the sand, odds are you will have to fly your approach shot on. A short – yet challenging – way to finish the front nine.

Number 11 (par 4, 387 yards from the White tees) is one of the more challenging doglegs on the course, because of where the bend is positioned. It’s a little over 200 yards from the white tees to reach the dogleg, leaving a long iron into the green. Depending on your position in the fairway off the tee, you may need to shape your approach shot. It’s also complicated by the fact that off the tee, you’re hitting out of a narrow chute with a tree overhanging the fairway on the right. The green is protected in front on either side by sand. Par is a good score here.

The par 3 holes are no pushover. From the White tees, the shortest one measures 165 yards. The par-3 12th hole is all about club selection and accuracy. The hole plays 189 yards from the White tees; spray the ball left or right off the tee and you’re bringing the trees into play. The front of the green is open with sand on the other three sides so if you hit it straight and short, you’ve still got a shot at getting up and down. A good tee shot can have you writing down a favorable number on the scorecard.

As a whole, the par 5 holes at Litchfield Country Club offer a lot of variety and the emphasis is on shot making and placement rather than distance. Number 13, at 498-yards from the White tees, is a soft dogleg left with water all the way down the left side and trees positioned off the tee that make challenging the water almost a necessity. The landing area is fairly generous, if you don’t mind water hanging out ominously on the left. That will leave a short-iron approach shot of around 100 yards into a small green surrounded by sand and water left and behind if you really get crazy.

Last Word: Litchfield Country Club is very player-friendly for the ladies. There are no forced carries off the tee over water with the exception of the par 3, 4th, and the bunkers are pretty easy to hit out of.  Men can make the course as easy or as tough as they want, all predicated by which tees they choose to play from.  The Bermuda greens are in great shape and hold shots well. They feature modest undulations with no unnecessary challenges such as multiple tiers. Being able to work the ball left and right is a distinct advantage because of the doglegs.

Club selection off the tee – especially for a first timer – can be a challenge, but gets easier the more often you play. Driver isn’t required on a lot of holes; hitting it a specified distance off the tee is a better approach. This is where a yardage book – available in the pro shop – can be an invaluable tool.

There are many reasons Litchfield Country Club is highly coveted by golfers who flock to the Myrtle Beach area on golf vacations each year and also by those who live here year round. The course drains well and it’s highly likely that the course – and cart paths – are open when surrounding courses are not. At Litchfield Country Club, walking is permitted anytime. The course is relatively flat and the tee boxes are in close proximity to the previous green, making it an easy and enjoyable walk. Pace of play is important as well; our foursome played in a little under four hours, without any prompting from course marshals.

All in all, Litchfield has a country club atmosphere and first-class accommodations; it’s a sure bet for golfers who enjoy the finer things in life. Litchfield Country Club is a proud member of the Waccamaw Golf Trail, America’s most awarded golf trail. For more information or to book your next round or outing, visit the Waccamaw Golf Trail website at http://www.waccamawgolftrail.com/courses/show/litchfield-country-club/.