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Story by Ian Guerin
MURRELLS INLET, S.C. | A few miles south of Myrtle Beach’s city limits, one of the Waccamaw Golf Trail’s two northernmost clubs opens a window of opportunity seen so rarely.
TPC of Myrtle Beach - with its world-renowned named recognition, a business affiliation with one of the best golfers in the game and a layout from a monster in the architecture industry - backs up every bit of its reputation from the moment players pull onto the property until the round is completed a few steps from the clubhouse’s back porch.
And while the TPC brand and Dustin Johnson’s golf school have each added a boost, it would be hard to argue that Tom Fazio’s design here isn’t the crux of what has made the course so special.
“An avid golfer that has played a Tom Fazio course is going to know the reputation of his course,” TPC head golf professional Matt Daly said. “He’ll have four different length par 3s that come into play. The par 4s run the gamut; you’ll have several shorter par 4s where you can get aggressive and make birdie. Then you’ll have longer par 4s. The good thing about what Fazio did here, all par 5s are relatively short from an average player’s standpoint. It’s a unique concept.”
While remaining under 7,000 yards, even from the championship tees, the majority of visitors at TPC will head out from 6,193 (with the forwards coming in at 5,118 yards). Yet, what Fazio did here wasn’t based on strength, but rather that aforementioned creative layout style paired with immaculate conditions.
Let’s put it this way: The roughs on most of the the par 4s and 5s are as playable as many fairways at several courses along South Carolina’s Grand Strand.
Still, as was the case when TPC hosted the 2000 Senior PGA Championship, the par-72 round is by no means easy. Thick tree lines join some sneaky water positioning. Elevated terrain changes shot selection in a hurry. And the presence of wildlife that includes wild turkeys and alligators can rock your attention span in a hurry.
It’s all part of the complete package that ensured TPC wasn’t simply relying on a name.
BREATHE YOUR WAY THROUGH NO. 4
Immediately after a boisterous third hole, the tee box at No. 4 offers a bit of a serene look at everything TPC is really about. The par 4 plays as long as 452 yards, with most squaring away from 405. The beautiful patch of land is visible from start to finish; the dueling tree lines hugging the fairway funnel the lines of sight directly to the green.
Just beyond that sits one of the few visible houses early in the round, and the home could double as a clubhouse on most tracks. The hole itself looks easy enough, that is until you realize exactly why that five handicap was rated like it was. An hourglass fairway ends with a pair of green-side bunkers, meaning a design that seems relatively straightforward leaves next to no room for errant shots.