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|The island green at the Long Bay Club is a tricky, little par-3. (Tim McDonald/WorldGolf.com)|
LONGS, S.C. -- Long Bay Club is nearly always mentioned when the conversation rolls around to the hardest golf courses in Myrtle Beach and along the Grand Strand.
Because of its name, you might think the difficulty lies in its length. You'd be wrong. True, some of the holes have decent length, but it isn't sheer distance that makes this quality track one of the more muscular in the area.
It's the green complexes architect Jack Nicklaus drew up. Nicklaus has always been known for his cozy relationship with his bulldozer, and they definitely had a hot affair here, out in the hinterlands north of Myrtle Beach, west of Little River and more than a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean.
This interior section of the Lowcountry is as flat as it gets, but Nicklaus pushed up so many little hills and mounds, it looks like the earth sprouted pimples. He must have been using his little dozer that day.
The landing areas off the tee can be tricky, but the course gets very busy and nasty as you near the greens, with water, pot bunkers, vast waste areas and those little knobs and hillocks guarding the green zones -- nothing like a nice downhill, side-hill lie, huh?
It's a course where your approach shots must come in long, high, soft and accurate. Even then, it's not a money-back guarantee.
"With some of the more difficult pin placements, you can get double -- or even triple -- bogey and not feel like you hit that bad a shot," said Long Bay Club Head Professional Jim Fellner.
That's because many of the greens fall off drastically on varying sides to deep, grassy swales and more of those pot bunkers. Long or short or left or right -- these greens are so well-guarded, they should be part of the Federal Witness Protection Program.
But, wait! Let's say you do make it safely on. You still have your chores. Some of the greens have deep valleys cutting through them. Others are merely sloped and rolling.
Of course, the green complexes aren't the whole story. Long Bay Club has an excellent, imaginative layout, with double fairways, some good water carries, an island green and some visual deception off the tee.
Nicklaus made great use of the natural sand, shaping waste areas as both hazard and cart path; one fairway, the 10th, is a peninsula surrounded by sand, which runs up in front of the green.
That part of the course is a little reminiscent of Scotland, Nicklaus' holy land, with its tree-less look and fairway perimeter mounding. Most of the other fairways are tree-lined, though most every hole has waste areas to one degree or another.
January 11, 2008
Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
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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