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|The fourth fairway at Tiger's Eye Golf Links at Ocean Ridge Plantation is split by a large sand trap sprinkled with native trees. (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com)|
OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C. - Tiger's Eye Golf Links has enjoyed a perch since 1999 as Ocean Ridge Plantation's top draw: the fiercest of the resort's famous "Big Cats" in Brunswick County.
That changed recently, after the resort's new Leopard's Chase Golf Links opened in the spring of 2007. In 2009 (or possibly in early 2010), Jaguar's Lair will be the fifth course at this massive golf resort and residential complex just north of the South Carolina/North Carolina border.
So while the fresh ink pours in about Leopard's Chase and the anticipation grows for Jaguar's Lair, Tiger's Eye remains one of the top golf courses in the Myrtle Beach area to this day. In 2007 Golf Digest listed it as one of the Myrtle Beach's "Top 100 Places you Can Play."
It competed against some pretty noteworthy golf courses to earn that distinction, so don't expect Tiger's Eye to take a slide any time soon. When it opened in 1999, Tim Cate's design was considered one of the area's flashiest. The approximately $10 million project incorporated large waste areas, native grasses and striking coquina boulder rock formations lining much of the 40 acres of water features.
Its setting, however, is more reminiscent of the North Carolina Sandhills region, with fairways lined with long leaf pine groves; while the massive, sloping greens take on a life of their own.
The collection of par 3s here stands out. No. 2 is a unique design for the area, playing over water to a steeply elevated green with steep grades down in front and on the right, while No. 11 is a very large island green requiring up to 165 yards of carry from the Saber Tooth tees (which play 7,014 yards).
Cate also employs a few waste bunkers, especially on the front side. The par-5 third hole features a waste bunker lining the entire right hand side of this tightest of the par 5s.
Cate's best hole is No. 4: a long, 422-yard par 4. Players can be aggressive and cut a corner to a fairway split by a massive waste bunker scattered with skinny, barren trees. You'll also have more water to carry off the tee if you take the shortcut, which, if executed, cuts your approach shot from a mid-iron or wood into a possible wedge to a massive, tiered green.
On the other hand, the longest par 4 at over 440 yards, No. 16 comes sans shortcut. Here you'll have to kill a drive and then carry a riverbed up to an elevated green heavily guarded with sand in front. The elevation changes seem subtle, but there are up to 40 feet of them throughout the course, which is noteworthy given how close these courses are to the ocean on this stretch of mostly flat terrain.
Tiger's Eye is a bit cheaper than Leopard's Chase. Peak season fees are $126 compared to $142. For budget golfers, the resort's Panther's Run and Lion's Paw golf courses are both much less expensive year round.
Tiger's Eye has also scored well in WorldGolf.com's Reader Exit Polls.
"The course is fun to play," wrote Allen Wilson, an 11-handicap who gave it four stars. "The Par 5's are reachable in two and the greens are in great shape. Also, the staff was top rate."
The course is women-friendly with five sets of tees. Women can choose between a distance of 5,136 or 4,502 yards.
Tiger's Eye, Panther's Run and Lion's Paw share a practice area with a large driving area, multiple putting greens and a short game green, though Tiger's Eye has a separate clubhouse. Here you can find the Golf Academy at Ocean Ridge Plantation, which offers group and individual lessons.
If you want a mix of more than just Brunswick County golf courses in the Grand Strand's northernmost area, stay farther south in North Myrtle Beach at the Tilghman Beach & Golf Resort (888-280-0913). Here, you can play the courses of Brunswick County, are an easy drive to great rounds in North Myrtle Beach and have a manageable commute to Pawleys Island in the south.
At the Tilghman Beach & Golf Resort, you'll also bask in spacious, newly-renovated two or three-bedroom guest rooms. These condo-style rooms have full kitchens and luxury amenities like flat-screen LCD TVs. You can book an ocean-view unit with large, private patios or a room at the neighboring Surf Golf & Beach Club.
March 25, 2009
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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