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|Tom Doak's Heathland course at Legends escapes flat, target golf for authentic links. (Brandon Tucker/GolfPublisher.com)|
The Heathland course at Legends Resort in Myrtle Beach is different than the resort's other two golf courses: a more links-style layout dominates here, with wide open fairways and sloping greens. It's a player-friendly golf course that has more than its fair share of memorable holes.
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - Amid the scores of "target-style" golf courses that seem to dominate Myrtle Beach golf - courses,that is, which demand plenty of forced carries over water and waste bunkers - is a different, links-style masterpiece offering a taste of the British Isles: The Heathland course at the Legends Resort.
The Heathland is one of three courses at Legends - one of Myrtle Beach's top multi-course facilities - joining the Moorland and Parkland course. Legends also boasts a monstrous practice area and a grill room and bar massive enough to host a battleship full of foursomes.
"Heathlands" is a term used often to describe the rolling inland courses in the British Isles like Gleneagles, and the course resembles that far more than a southeast U.S. course. Architect Tom Doak, who has built such links designs as Pacific Dunes and Cape Kidnappers in Australia, wasn't given such spectacular seaside land here, so his team had to build a memorable course from an open palette.
"The goal was to imitate some of the great holes of the British links courses," said Doak. "And to do so, we created some big ‘dunes' to vary the appearance of the holes."
To do so, Doak's firm, Renaissance Golf, often revered for their "natural" golf courses, had to heavily shape the land before even thinking much about planning a golf course, as the Legends property was dead flat and timbered. Nearly 500,000 cubic yards of dirt were moved, the most they had moved on a project up until that point.
The end result is one of the more natural-looking, shaped courses in Myrtle Beach, right up there with Mike Strantz's bulldozer magic at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club.
Heathland looks totally different from the swampy Caledonia though. Most of the course is wide-open with few trees except along the perimeter. The land's subtle undulations, man-made dunes and perched greens do resemble that of Scottish links.
The greens are very similar to what you would find on traditional links as well: large, firm and rolling with few flat points and many subtle undulations in them. Swales and humps lie around the greens that will require a good variety of shot-making with the wedges from bump-and-runs to flops. There is also a slew of bunkering in fairways and around green, often deep.
After a more inland, "heathland" start that plays through more mature trees and bush up through the tree-lined 5th and 6th holes, the course opens up quite a bit beginning on the short par-5 7th, which plays uphill and to a plateau green guarded by a small pot bunker. This green complex was designed to resemble that of the famous "Road Hole" on the Old Course at St. Andrews.
The short par-4 15th is especially memorable. It's a par-4 just 350 yards and is drivable from the tee, but your drive is blind and must carry over a hill with plenty of bunkers littered around it.
The par-4 16th hole is Heathland's boldest. It's a long par-4, 450 yards from the championship tees with a burn that splits the fairway. The safer play from the back tees is to the left side, but the right side sits higher and offers a more eye-level approach to the green. Low handicappers may even want to choose which side to hit on based on pin location, as a large bunker with railroad ties sits before the green, but there is some space on either side to run it up.
Each of Legends' three golf courses take on a different style. P.B. Dye's Moorland is modern target golf and the Parkland is a classic, tight and long course with massive greens molded after Alister Mackenzie.
The Heathland takes on a links philosophy, and features many wide open fairways and sloping greens guarded heavily by bunkers. It's also the shortest of the three courses at just 6,700 yards and is probably the most player-friendly of the three courses. You shouldn't lose too many balls here, but few holes are gimmies.
The Heathlands will close for the summer in order to reseed their greens with Champions Bermuda, which is the current grass on the other two courses at Legends.
October 2, 2007
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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