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|Caledonia Golf & Fish Club was in very good shape, greens rolled true. (Courtesy of Elliot DeBear)|
WorldGolf.com reader Elliot DeBear reports on his latest Myrtle Beach golf vacation, where he and his crew took on The Heritage Club, Caledonia, True Blue, TPC Myrtle Beach and the Heathland golf course at Legends Golf Club.
We could not wait to get out of N.Y. and land in Myrtle Beach. Left the airport and headed straight down to Pawley's Island to play golf at The Heritage Club. What can I say about this beautifully designed golf course that hasn't already been covered? It is one of my favorites and a classic track in every way.
What I like most about Heritage, aside from its sheer plantation beauty, is that length and power are not a great advantage here, this is a shot maker's course. Due to challenging pin placements with subtle breaks in the greens, the second shot is everything. We played from the blues that delivers a 74.8/144 rating at 7,000 yards. This afforded us views of how the course was laid out from the eyes of the designer and full range of each hole. Conditions were good with blue skies and only a light wind. The greens were a little patchy but rolled very true. Saw a bunch of gators today, some fairly large. Again, a pure classic that is always on my must play list.
After playing we ventured over to Martin's PGA TOUR Superstore (1400 29th Ave., Myrtle Beach, tel. 843-839-4653). Always a very dangerous move. If you haven't been, Martin's is the single most fantastic golf store on earth. A shoe department larger than most shoe stores. Every club in existence. Got away lucky with only one purchase of a pair of Footjoy's on sale. Whew!
For dinner we headed to Broadway At The Beach (www.broadwayatthebeach.com). Sadly, the place was empty. A true sign of the times. Weather was good and nobody around. Stopped into the Key West Grill for dinner. We didn't expect much from a chain restaurant and was very pleasantly suprised. The food, service and prices were terrific. We are NY food snobs and really enjoyed dinner.
Back to the condo at True Blue to watch college hoops. The condo was a two bedroom, 2 bath deal that was comfortable, clean and well located. We had one with a balcony overlooking the 15th. Good showers with plenty of hot water. No complaints.
Next day, we scheduled Caledonia Golf & Fish Club for the morning round, followed by golf at True Blue in the afternoon. This is what I consider one of the best back to back 18's you can play in MB. Back to back Mike Strantz all the way.
Caledonia, built in 1993, is a 4.5 star Golf Digest rated track and has received, and continues to receive numerous awards. It is visually fantastic. Just driving up to its entrance with 150 year old oaks lining the way with the moss hanging down is worth the visit. Really nice Antebellum club house.
Course was in very good shape, greens rolled true. Maybe the best combination of par 3's on any golf course in Myrtle Beach. It was very windy on this day causing a lot of back and forth on club selections. I always bring a camera when playing Caledonia because there are so many great vantage points. It was a good move today because the course was absolutely empty.
The fish stew at the cross over was, as usual, delicious. We were a twosome and had the entire track to ourselves. Couldn't believe it. Again, a sign of the times. A must-play track for me each year's visit. We had a great time and finished with lunch in the club house. Actually, the grill seemed to have more people in it than on the course.
True Blue, another Mike Strantz stunner, was brutal this day with the wind. More open than Caledonia so the wind takes a greater toll on your game when it's up. A lot of rough sandy areas and huge waste bunkers throughout. The greens were hard and fast, almost impossible to hold, even with high lofted shots.
Don't be afraid to bump and run here. This is a risk/reward track all the way. Deceptive views of greens and strategic placement of bunkers are a great combination of good versus evil. The routing of the holes are terrific because you feel you are playing very different types of holes one after the other. Great finishing hole and one that lets you walk off happy or miserable...either way a reason to head straight for the bar. You are exhausted after playing this beauty.
As in previous year's reports, looking up to course designer's heaven, I raise a glass and say "thank you, Mike Strantz with all my heart for the vision you were able to share with us in these two fabulous courses."
Dinner tonight was special. We hit Frank's Restaurant (www.franksandoutback.com) on 17. This IMO is the absolutely best restaurant in all Myrtle Beach. In fact, Frank's would do well anywhere, including N.Y. if it were there. The food is just excellent and complimented by a terrific wine list that is priced right. Service matched the cuisine. Never visit Pawley's without scheduling a dinner at Frank's.
Woke up to a beautiful Lowcountry morning and headed to TPC Myrtle Beach in Murrell's Inlet. This is a course we always play when in Myrtle Beach. If it's not on your list, it should be. The track, designed by Tom Fazio with collaboration from Lanny Wadkins, is one of his more mellow projects but also one of his more dramatic ones, with holes fashioned within borders of beautiful tall red pines, old oaks and different varieties of tall grasses and fescue. A lot of lakes with beautiful reflections too. In fact, there is water on 10 of the 18 holes. Another plus is that there are very few homes adjacent to the course and those that are, are very attractive.
This track is about using your head and not your ego, especially so on the par 5's where laying up on the second instead of trying to blast one is the smarter move. Some of the best scenery of any golf course we have played over the years.
Excellent par 3's throughout. The par 5, 18th is terrific with the lake looming out there on the left and a meandering stream floating up the right to a stand of deep naturally shaped bunkers. The green is framed by the club house in the background. The day before there was a big college tournament won by Wake Forrest for the second year in a row.
After the round we moved to the club house veranda that overlooks the 18th for lunch. They recommended the chicken salad with crushed pecans. The best I ever tasted.
We were going to play our afternoon round at Pawley's Plantation, but TPC was so well conditioned, so beautiful and so empty that we decided on the replay and did it again. The course did not disappoint the second time around. As with Caledonia, bring a camera.
All in all a great day. On the way out, Chip Smith the owner and president of came over to introduce himself and ask a how we liked the course and its condition. Very nice guy who obviously takes great pride in the course, cares about customer service and like a good family-owned Italian restaurant, believes having the owner in the kitchen and on the premise.
Dinner at some joint on 17 called Salt Creek Cafe (www.saltcreekcafe.com). Again surprised by how good the food was. Place was pretty empty, but served up some terrific low country comfort food. Worked out just fine and would actually go back.
Last day before hitting the airport and heading for home. Decided on something different to finish up. As we had played parkland and plantation courses all week, we chose the Heathland course at Legends Golf Club as our closer.
I really like this Tom Doak designed course. It's quite unique from the other layouts in the area because of its links layout, throws you a really different challenge and requires a different game head to play it. The winds hit big again making club selection and flight placements a challenge.
What I like most about Heathland is the colors and vistas. It's very different without the trees and marshes you experience at the other courses. Here deep bunkers are very strategically placed with large hard greens to hit, many having multiple tiers with a lot of slope. From the gold tees, the course played 6785 with a 72.3/127 rating, although the slope felt larger than that. Very cool to look over the course from certain vantage points on the back nine and see the large castle like club house in the distance. Glad we played it.
Fun trip with good weather and great company. Can't wait to do it again next year.
- Elliot DeBear
March 18, 2009
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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