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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.
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 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.
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."
June 21, 2011
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.
Referred to by its hosts as a "hidden gem," the greens alone at Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo, Calif. make this a stone worth turning over. Located an hour northwest of L.A., it's a pleasing, quiet and generally engaging round that will appease players of all levels.
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