A poll of traveling golfers would likely put the Love Course atop a ranking of the acclaimed quartet of courses at Barefoot Resort. Davis Love III’s namesake design has been included among the nation’s top 100 public courses by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine and it’s in spectacular condition.
The creative layout, inspired by Love’s affinity for some of the famed courses he grew up playing in North Carolina, is highlighted by smallish, contoured greens and run-off areas that place a premium on quality short-game play.
The most famous challenge is also the course’s shortest, the 265-yard par 4 fourth hole, which is backstopped by the faux ruins of an old plantation home.
As we take a look at the Love Course’s best holes, I’m going to skip over No. 4 because you already know about it. Here are three holes you may not be as familiar with but will adore on the Love Course:
— The fourth hole is the one everyone talks about, No. 5 is Love’s hardest, but the sixth is my favorite (top photo). Playing only 340-yards (white tees), the tee shot is pivotal. If you blast a drive over the bunker on the starboard side of the dogleg right, an approach of less than 100 yards awaits, but it’s not without risk. You will need a 200+ yard tee shot to carry the bunker and any ball that cuts will be pushed toward water that is more threatening than it appears from the tee. The further you go left, the longer the approach to a green that is 42 yards deep but only 13 yards wide. Your approach must clear the brick retaining wall, which is part of the faux ruins, that fronts the green. This is a tricky putting surface to chip onto and one of the day’s most enjoyable challenges.
— Playability is at the heart of the Love Course’s popularity – the white tees are “only” 6,055 yards – and No. 13 is a gettable par 5 at 447 yards. Love used a small stream to create a dual fairway that is in play off the tee (pro tip: don’t even look at the smaller right side) but the real question is how much of the stream do you want to challenge in getting to the upper left side? An aggressive tee shot will provide the chance to get home in two but don’t miss right on the approach, where a large bunker and the stream, which continues ambling along the hole, awaits.
— According to the scorecard, No. 14 (pictured right) is only the course’s 10th toughest test but I’m telling you, that can’t be true. Nothing appears difficult from the tee, but it has been a personal house of horrors for me, which has, oddly enough, only increased my appreciation for the 361-yard par 4. From the tee, your eyes are drawn to the mound of pampas grass and a bunker on the right side of the fairway some 200 yards away. Drives that fly the pampas grass will be perfectly positioned for the uphill approach to a green that runs from back to front. If you don’t clear the pampas grass off the tee, a big number may await. If you miss the green on your approach, a dicey chip awaits.
While I relish the challenge of the three holes above, even if I don’t always play well, I can’t say the same for the tee shot on the par 3 ninth hole. In the interest of full disclosure, nothing strikes fear into my timid heart like a 187-yard par 3.
From the tee box, wetlands appear to run much closer to the front edge of the green than they really do. The reality is you only need to hit the ball 120 yards to clear the junk and there is plenty of room to miss in front of the green.
The ninth hole is a difficult par but it should be a pretty easy bogey. Notice I say SHOULD BE. I consistently arrive at the tee box with all the confidence of a man being led to the Coliseum to face the lions, and I have the results to validate my fear.
Unreasonable? Yes. But that doesn’t change the reality.
On a course I love to play (bad pun intended), the ninth tee shot is the one I hate (or more accurately, fear)!
Bottom Line: The Love Course is a treat a play and it’s in near perfect condition as we head into the spring season. If it’s on your golf trip itinerary, a good time surely awaits.