Watching Mito Pereira make double bogey on the 72nd hole of the PGA Championship, allowing one of the game’s majors to slip from his grasp, was painful for all but the coldest hearted of souls.
As Pereira’s dreams of winning a major championship imploded faster than you can say, “Jean van de Velde,” I couldn’t help but wonder, which are the five closing holes in Myrtle Beach where disaster is most likely to strike?
After a little time to think and consultation with fellow players, here are five 18th holes that have the ability to dramatically swing a match:
● On any list of the area’s most difficult closing holes, No. 18 Tidewater (top photo) is somewhere near the top. The 410-yard (all distances white tees) dogleg left is rife with danger. The marshy waters of the Intracoastal Waterway lurk on the right, waiting to claim drives that are pushed, and if you overcompensate, bushes and trees await on the other side. Throw in a green that runs to the edge of the marsh and you have a recipe for a big number.
● The par 5 18th at TPC Myrtle Beach (496 yards, pictured right) is straight as an arrow and your ball better follow a similar path. A stream running up the right side is where dreams of birdie go to die and OB is a menace on the left. Throw in a green that protrudes into a pond and the reasons for anxiety on one of Myrtle Beach’s most recognizable holes are many.
● At 368 yards, the par 4 finisher at Long Bay doesn’t overwhelm with distance, but the challenge is significant. The nearly 90-degree dogleg right plays around a large pond (for the record, I’ve watched an eagle pluck a fish out of it and proceed to begin eating in the middle of the fairway. Seriously.) There is room to bail out left but if you do, the hole plays much longer, enhancing the difficulty of the approach to a green that abuts the water. When the pin is on the right, the approach is harrowing. Players that get greedy here are practically begging to make double.
● Dan Maples-designed Heritage Club closes with a 470-yard par 5 that sends shivers down the spine of players. Duncan Creek runs along the starboard side of the dogleg left, but it’s the approach to very undulating green that causes consternation. Players must carry the water and a two-putt is far from assured on a green that is built atop a couple elephants.
● The 18th hole at River Club (pictured right) is a memorable finisher. Water looms every step of the way on the 493-yard par 5. A pond fills the corner of the dogleg left and even if you are trying to play right, it’s a visually intimidating tee shot. The green is reachable in two for long hitters but anything short will be wet. This is an unforgettable closing hole on one of the area’s most underrated tracks, but things can go wrong in a hurry.