The risk-reward shot is one of golf’s most exhilarating, providing players, even average ones, a chance to push the limits of what they could be reasonably expected to accomplish in exchange for a rare opportunity.
That opportunity often comes in the form of an eagle putt, and a Myrtle Beach golf trip offers players a surplus of risk-reward holes. Here five you won’t forget.
(Please note, two holes you likely expected to see here – The Gambler at King’s North and No. 13 at the Dunes Club, otherwise known as Waterloo – didn’t make my list. You already know about those holes.)
— Just because “The Gambler” didn’t make the list, that doesn’t mean King’s North isn’t represented. The third hole on the Arnold Palmer classic might be a better risk-reward challenge because everyone is forced to make a decision on the 319-yard par 4 (all distances from white tees). The dogleg left plays around a lake and it’s less than 270 yards to the middle of the green if you take an ambitious line over the water. There is trouble in the form of sand and water if you play aggressively and miss. Verdict: Go for it. You have a legit shot to make birdie here, par at worst. Whatever you do, don’t pull your tee shot.
— The fourth hole at True Blue, a 503-yard par 5 (top photo) that button hooks around a lake, is fraught with decisions and danger. Long hitters who take aggressive lines will have a chance to reach a green that is longer than it is wide, but it will take two great swings and nerves of steel. Most players won’t go for the green in two but still must confront the water. Verdict: Unless your handicap is 8 or less, I wouldn’t even consider going for it. Even playing “smart,” this hole is dangerous. Challenge the water on the margins, try to make par, and run to the fifth tee.
— The 16th hole on the Moorland Course at Legends – known as Hell’s Half Acre – plays just 223 yards (pictured right), but the elevated green is surrounded by trouble. All of us can drive the green but if you miss in the wrong spot, especially the pot bunker off the back, it may take help from the Almighty to salvage par. Verdict: Go for it. Even with the potential for trouble, the chance of hitting a green that is less than a full-strength driver away is too great to pass up.
— Heritage Club is one of the area’s best, even if occasionally underrated layouts, and it closes with a risk-reward decision that could define your round. A dogleg left, the 470-yard par 5 is reachable in two for long hitters, especially for players able to cut the corner off the tee. That being said, balls that come up short most often find the bottom of an alligator-filled lake that fronts the green. There isn’t much margin for error: Verdict: If you hit a great drive, give it a go.
— Pawleys Plantation Golf Club presents one of the area’s stiffest challenges but if you are looking to hit a heroic shot, the 14th may provide a chance. A tidal marsh looms along the right side of from tee to green but this beauty is reachable. Did I mention the green isn’t exactly huge? Verdict: The yardage suggests going for it but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, unless you are really swinging the club well!