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Story by Ian Guerin
Each of the Par 4s that found themselves included in the Perfect Round hold a special place among their counterparts in the Myrtle Beach golf scene.
The Perfect Round project, spearheaded by Myrtle Beach Golf Trips with the help of the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel, selected the best 18 holes along South Carolina’s Grand Strand. Ten of the holes were Par 4s, and five of those will be dissected here. They include the final holes at Prestwick Country Club, Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club and Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, Dunes Golf & Beach Club’s No. 11 and the 14th hole at Heritage Club.
Here’s what took each of them to the top of the panel’s rankings.
Arguably no course designer had the impact on the Myrtle Beach area in the 1980s as Dan Maples, with eight of the courses that opened in that decade having his name affiliated with their architecture. It further illustrates how strong No. 14 at Heritage Club is. The hole plays no longer than 426 yards; however, the fairway plays nearly perpendicular to the primary tees, split apart by one of Heritage’s sprawling ponds. Get that first shot safely into the landing zone, and an inlet at the top side splits the green into a bit of a no man’s land.
Beginning a section of holes not for the faint of heart, the 430-yard No. 11 at Dunes can be every bit as intimidating as it appears from the tee box. First, there’s the semi-blind tee shot where only the best of the best can successfully navigate a tree line and the adjoining water. Even those who are able to do just that aren’t given a pass the rest of the way. Most of the year, heavy grasses along a jutting inlet prevent anything but a near-perfect fly into an extremely protected green.
If there is any part of Caledonia that doesn’t remind players that this was once a full-fledged rice and indigo plantation, the final 383 yards and what what’s visible from them isn’t it. Mike Strantz’s first solo project wraps up with a hole dividing its large fairway and green with one of the property’s bigger lakes. Thick natural grasses and a broad array of trees - some in play and some nowhere close - and the iconic and historical clubhouse and restaurant all add to the picturesque finisher.
When the Golden Bear says a fairway is on the narrow side, well, you should pay attention. Jack Nicklaus knew his layout at Pawleys Plantation’s 18th hole would lend itself to enough frustration that he included what a bailout bunker deep down the left side between the fairway and some thick vegetation and another one to the left of the green in an attempt to smooth out the challenge of some water. Without those, and this hole would feel even longer than its 443 yards as visitors would have to play it ultra safe.
Pete and P.B. Dye had their work cut out for them, if for no other reason that the property’s beautiful two-story clubhouse was the backdrop for Prestwick’s final hole. The Dye’s succeeded in matching that quality here. At 441 yards from the championships, this hole squeezes the fairway with a large pond (and a lengthy waste bunker) on the right and mounded sand traps on the left. From there, it’s into a protected final 50 or so yards, with two more sand traps on the left and the back end of that water to the right.