In America’s busiest golf market, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club needs no introduction. A consensus top 100 public course, the Mike Strantz design has long been known for its creativity, beauty and the fun it provides.
In an era where “big” courses rule the day, Caledonia struck gold by going small. Strantz created his first masterpiece using less than 120 acres of land, a fraction of the acreage used by many contemporary designs, but as anyone who has played there can attest, it works.
Caledonia’s popularity means many golfers are familiar with the layout, but we are here to take you deep inside one of America’s premier public golf experiences.
Here are five things you need to know about Caledonia
By far, the course’s most underrated hole
Caledonia has no shortage of outstanding holes, but the par 3 11th (pictured right) is almost criminally underrated. A stream that winds from the tee box to a greenside pond contributes mightily to the challenge while enhancing the hole’s visual appeal. Playing 153 yards from the mallard tees, length isn’t an issue but where the pin is on a large, undulating green will dictate the hole’s difficulty. When the pin is cut on the lower right portion of the putting surface, No. 11 is fairly benign, but when it’s in the upper left, buckle up. The more daunting pin position will force you to carry the stream which runs to the edge of the green and a two-putt is far from a certainty if you are on the wrong tier. The 11th is a great par 3 and Caledonia’s most underrated hole.
If you want to see an alligator
The prehistoric reptiles aren’t hard to find. They regularly sun themselves on the eighth green and hang out on the beach bunkers Strantz designed, but you are most likely to spot a gator on the par 4 14th. A pond flanks the left side of the green and it’s not unusual to find multiple alligators enjoying the Pawleys Island sunshine near the edge of the fairway or green. If you want a picture, have the camera in your pocket on No. 14.
This beauty is a beast …
Looking for a difficult hole people don’t talk enough about? That’s an easy one: the par 4 13th (pictured right). This 380-yard, 90-degree dogleg left, which features a green almost completely surrounded by sand, offers a daunting test. To earn a short approach, playing a draw around an oak tree that resides in the corner of the dogleg is the preferred tee shot, but it’s easier said than done. Tee shots pushed right set up an approach that is longer than most players are comfortable with. The 13th green is one of Caledonia’s smallest and the sand pinches the front of the landing area, leaving little room to miss short or run the ball up. Miss the green and you are playing from the bottom of a bunker no one likes to be in. The hole is beautiful but it can be nasty.
A foodies dream
The food at Caledonia is very good, hence its popularity as a lunchtime spot, even with nongolfers. The clubhouse overlooks the famed 18th green and if you can withstand even a little bit of spice, enjoy the Cliff’s Cajun chicken club, featuring blackened chicken, roast beef and two types of cheeses, after your round. The seafood dishes and soups are all very popular BUT I always order the Cajun chicken and it never disappoints.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown
Whether you are talking golf courses, concerts, vacations or any other highly acclaimed experience, meeting expectations isn’t easy, but Caledonia doesn’t disappoint. The alley of oak trees dividing holes 1 and 10 set expectations when golfers enter the property and the experience only gets better. A round at Caledonia is one of Myrtle Beach’s most expensive but value is measured in more than dollars and cents, and it delivers.