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|Water is in play on 24 of the 27 holes at Aberdeen Country Club in Longs, S.C. (Courtesy of Aberdeen C.C.)|
LONGS, S.C. -- Jim Fellner understands that playing Aberdeen Country Club can go one of two ways.
The course's golf director has experienced the ebbs and flows of the Scottish-style club's design first hand.
"I had one tough day over there about 8-9 years ago," Fellner said. "I was the only one to break 100. I'm talking '6' handicappers."
The conglomeration of pros, superintendents and others associated with the game struggled, and it's a pattern that continues to this day. With rolling fairways, heavily undulated greens and more water than most care to see, Aberdeen has carved its niche as a hazard-heavy course that can chew up even low handicappers.
Yet, at the same time, the 27-hole track also has the potential to make up some of the difference.
Located just west of the hustle of South Carolina's Grand Strand, Aberdeen has stayed popular despite the potential for three-figure rounds.
Between some amazing scenery, the lack of houses surrounding the course and the possibility of a very fast round, regulars and first-timers like what they see.
The combination of any two of those half-rounds plays anywhere from 6,115 yards up to 6,306 yards from the whites. But length isn't the great equalizer at Aberdeen Country Club.
When you check in, the clubhouse employee will warn you of the most intimidating part of the course: The water.
"It's a well-thought-out course. I thought it was challenging, yet fair," Connecticut native Shane Hassett said. "It's definitely a course that rewarded good shots. Certainly it had enough hazards on there to make it challenging, water especially."
The Waccamaw River, ponds and creeks are in play on 24 of the 27 holes. Taking them out of the equation isn't necessarily an option, even for the most skilled player.
"It's one of those golf courses that you either love it or you hate it," Fellner said. "It all depends on how you hit it. On a few holes, there is the certain point where there is no return."
That's only the beginning.
Recently renovated sand traps protect or add dimension to nearly every Tif-Eagle Bermuda green. Flag stick location is tinkered with nearly every day. Some change as much as 40 yards from one day to the next, meaning how someone plays once may never be copied.
Figuring out the course, then, sometimes has as much to do with luck than pure skill.
The trick, Fellner said, is to play straight and short.
"The ladies have a tendency to like that course because they hit it straight and their husbands don't," he said.
"It's just a strong golf course. You've got to hit the ball straight off the tee. It's important that you put the ball on the right spot on the green."
The Woodlands is the longest and generally considered the toughest of the three nines from the whites. Combined with Highlands, they measure at 6,850 from the blues. None of the possible combinations play longer than 5,700 yards from the ladies tees.
Aberdeen Country Club holds a full driving range and putting green to work out some kinks prior to the start of a round. Both of those and the parking lot are located within close proximity of the bag drop and starter.
The course includes a full-service snack and beverage bar, and a drink cart routinely makes its way around the course.
Aberdeen offers private instruction as well.
The staff at Aberdeen C.C. hasn't had to put much into the course in terms of major renovations recently, but players making their way out there for the first time wouldn't know it.
The golf courses, be it the fairways or the areas near the out-of-bounds markers, are pristine considering the relatively low cost of the course. The lack of homes around the track, especially on the earlier holes on all three nines, allows golfers to concentrate on the game instead of dealing with distractions.
And, on the off chance you keep your ball away from all that water, there's a potential to take full advantage of the seclusion Aberdeen County Club can offer.
"We had no one on the course with us," Hassett said. "We felt like we owned the course, and we'll remember it."
April 27, 2012
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.
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