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Heritage Club near Myrtle Beach, S.C., blends Southern charm with a formidable golf course

Lisa AllenBy Lisa Allen,
The Heritage Club golf course
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The Heritage Club in Pawleys Island, S.C. exudes Southern charm and hospitality. (Brandon Tucker/TravelGolf)

PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. -- The name Heritage Club only hints of its history.

Designed by Dan Maples and Larry Young in 1986, this Myrtle Beach-area gem recently ranked 46th on Golf Digest's list of America's Top 100 Public Courses.

Sean Pearson, first assistant pro, describes the golf course well.

"You'll remember the greens," he said. "That and the property."

The course is on what once was a rice plantation. You'll pass by a 19th-century cemetery of a "rice prince's" family. There are countless 300-year-old Spanish-moss covered live oaks and residual ponds that once irrigated rice.

"It's well spread out," Pearson said.

The course reeks of the Old South upon arrival with a monstrous, two-story, plantation-estate-looking, white-pillared clubhouse and vivid flowering plants across the front. Those modern-day automotive contraptions are parked at a discrete distance and a shuttle ferries golfers and bags.

The par-71 course is missing a par 5 on the front, but it still exceeds 7,000 yards from the tips and is 5,201 yards from the reds.

The course gives you one warm-up hole before it throws a creative par-5 second hole at you. The second hole offers two fairways, the safer but longer route to the right avoids the water carry until a short chip shot to the green, or the shorter but more perilous left fairway that requires a good drive and strong second shot for a nice, dry, short iron to the elevated green over a raft of bunkers.

The third hole is an open par 4 in which bunkers are easily avoided on the left. The wrinkle comes later with rough encroaching into the fairway from the right about 80 yards out. It cuts off the eyeline to the green, so it's problematic the first time you play the course.

The fourth hole, a par 4, professes itself the most beautiful on the course. It is a live oak-lined hole that bends up and to the left. There isn't a lot of landing room if you tend to boom your drive because of a tree left and bunker right. But there are some advantageous slopes in the fairway that can funnel your drive center and forward.

No. 5 is a fun hole that requires a long drive to pass a bunker complex on the left, but a short iron to the green. God help you if the pin is left, tucked behind a bunker minefield that serves as a wall in front of the green. But at 40 yards wide, if the pin is left, you sort of have to go for it.

"Some of our greens are 50 feet deep. And there are a lot of buried elephants," Pearson said.

Thus, the importance of a good approach shot that puts your ball near the pin.

Heritage Club: The back nine

The back nine is a par-5 sandwich with the par 3s and par 4s stuffed in the middle. No. 10, an immense 606 yards from the tips, has only a sliver of a landing area, thanks to bunkers and marsh that creep out from the left. It's a hole of trust, because you can't see around the corner for the second shot.

Thankfully, the approach is straightforward, so you might give yourself a chance at a birdie or par.

The 13th and 14th holes are memorable because of the water. Thirteen is a long par 3 over water to a huge tiered, ridged green with a bunker complex left and water front and right. If your ball isn't in the same zip code as the pin, you'll likely rack up some strokes.

The 14th hole is difficult because of the placement needed to get through the par 4. Get your drive right center so you can clear a pond in front of the green and pick an angle that will avoid a witch of a bunker on the right side of the sharply sloping, humped green.

Sixteen is a pretty hole because of the pond starting about 120 yards from the green. Hope for a long second shot to land on the elevated green.

The course has a great closing hole with the visual drama of a blind tee shot to trim a little off the dogleg left to set up a second shot long enough to give you a chance at a short, accurate iron shot to the 40-by-40-yard tiered green over water. Put the shot next to the pin to birdie or par the hole.

Bob and Louise Daniel of Cincinnati were playing the Heritage Club after a daylong drive south.

"It's a scenic, challenging course," Bob Daniel said, adding that it was the slope of the greens that gave him fits. "They were a bear."

Louise Daniel loved the wildlife around the course.

"We saw a cute little alligator," she said, adding that they enjoyed the variety of the course. "It's not your typical old-style Myrtle Beach course with a lot a sand."

Ken Potts of Scotland has been coming to Myrtle Beach for 10 years. What he likes about Heritage is the course and the nature combined.

"Holes 11 through 14 are some tough holes," Potts said.

He's played several courses in the area.

"There aren't any bad golf courses in Myrtle Beach, just some are better than others," he said, putting Heritage in the latter category.

Heritage Club: The verdict

The Heritage Club is a watery course, with it a strong risk of it on seven holes. Add the quantity of buried elephants on the greens, and this course challenge every aspect of your game. You won't mind, though, because it's a scenic course that exudes Southern charm and, thanks to the staff, Southern hospitality.

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Heritage Club golf course - bunkerHeritage Club golf course - hole 4The Heritage Club in Pawleys Island Heritage Club golf course - ponds

Lisa Allen is a golf, travel and business writer based in Beaufort, S.C. She has edited newspapers, magazines and books in Michigan, Indiana and South Carolina. Follow her on Twitter @LAllenSC.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Score Card

    Golf Guru wrote on: Nov 23, 2010

    How do I get an online copy of the Heritage Club score card????


      • RE: Score Card

        dennisnd62@nc.rr.com wrote on: Oct 28, 2012

        Just want to see copy of score card.