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Shells and gators make Myrtle Beach-area Oyster Bay Golf Links a fun, visual play

Ian GuerinBy Ian Guerin,
Oyster Bay Golf Links - hole 3
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Oyster Bay Golf Links combines some of the rarest scenes of any round in the Myrtle Beach. (Ian Guerin/TravelGolf)

SUNSET BEACH, N.C. -- Oyster Bay Golf Links sets up like something out of a putt-putt player's nightmare: Off the shells, avoid the alligator, and do your best to carry the water.

The course, located just north of Myrtle Beach, S.C., in Sunset Beach, N.C., combines some of the rarest scenes of any round in the area. And it's not afraid to lean on those visuals.

"Most players, if we had bad conditions, we get away with it because of the nature and the beauty of the golf course," Oyster Bay Golf Links Assistant Professional Brian Altena said. "If everything else was just okay, they're still going to come away very, very happy."

The most favorably priced of the Legends Golf courses, Oyster Bay's sights are unavoidable. Many of the holes are designed with the native white-and-black oyster shells, and on several, those adages come into play.

And those alligators keep players on their feet nearly year round on at least two holes. It's part of the package that has kept Oyster Bay successful even during some of the game's lean times.

"I think it's just pretty: the design, the shells, the whole look," said Galo Andrade, a high handicapper from New York City. "It's a nice course; I like it. I judge a course by how many balls I lose. This was a success. I actually did better (than expected)."

For most, that's where the final four holes aren't so friendly.

Oyster Bay Golf Links: The course

The par-70 course shaved two holes off the normal round by designing two water-laden par 3s into the final four holes.

That was just fine for fellow New York City native Marcelo Cruz. "I'm sort of fanatical about island greens," he said. "I love island greens."

Holes No. 15 and No. 17 offer an injection of adrenaline into the end of the round. The short No. 15 gives players some allowance in the front; granted, it's protected by a sand trap. No. 17 is not as kind, offering only a small sliver of green beyond the green in which to miss the green.

Those two holes fund plenty of ball divers.

"It's a pretty rare thing that all four in a group will lay it across and put it on dry ground," Altena said.

And, as Altena points out, those two par 3s are sandwiched around an equally frustrating par 4.

Oyster Bay Golf Links' 16th hole is lined fully up the right side by more water. Off the tee of the 450-yard hole, players must find a way to hit their drive long enough to take water down the middle of the course out of play with a shot long enough to reach on their second while still keeping it wet.

For golfers who tire toward the end of a round, those three holes will certainly offer a wake-up call.

The rest of the 6,355-yard course (from the average tees) finds other ways to have a similar effect.

There's the split-green No. 3, a par 4 with one green requiring an approach over water, while the other one plays sans water. There's No. 6, where the white shells make it next to impossible to judge distance.

As for the rest, thick marsh, plenty of trees and even more shells are added into undulated greens, and there are deceivingly placed bunkers throughout.

Oyster Bay Golf Links: Instruction and facilities

Oyster Bay includes a full driving range and putting green. Instruction is done at the course via multiple golf instructors.

The course, part of the Legends Golf group, also can facilitate classes through the Classic Swing Golf School at the organization's main golf courses in Myrtle Beach.

A full on-site clubhouse with full snack bar and grill is also available.

Oyster Bay Golf Links: The verdict

Andrade was only the next in a long line of players who wanted to play Oyster Bay again with some extra course knowledge.

He had played Oyster Bay nearly a decade earlier but he said he needed repeat rounds on the course to get a better grasp of it.

That in mind, Andrade said he was already working on a return trip: "We'll always come back. Definitely, 100 percent."

More photos

Oyster Bay Golf Links - hole 13Oyster Bay Golf Links - hole 14Oyster Bay golf course - hole 15

Ian Guerin is a freelance writer and DJ living in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He's decent with the driver and putter; it's everything else in the bag that gives him trouble. Follow Ian on Twitter at @iguerin.

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
  • oyster bay

    gary hipwell wrote on: Aug 11, 2011

    we have 16 guys comming down in oct/2011we are playing oyster bay.i've heard some bad things lately. the greens are not in good shape the fairways lack grass.please let me know if this course is worth playing.Thx Gary


      • RE: oyster bay

        John Kolb wrote on: Aug 19, 2011

        Four of us played Oyster Bay August 19, 2011. The greens were in very good shape. They did have top dressing on a some of the greens and were puting top dressing on others. The greens are Bermunda and were not quite as fast as some newer Tif Eagle Bermunda greens we played. But they were fast enough because some greens are moderately contoured and the ball will run out.
        We didn't see any problems with the fairways and the rough did not seem as penal as it had on another more inland course we played.They have had more rain in this area lately which has helped out with the dry conditions thay had been experiencing for some time.
        We found the course conditions very good. It is a unque layout with many interesting and memorable holes, unlike many beach courses where after you play it all the holes run together in your mind -- like you played the same par four hole over and over.