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By John Torsiello, The Grain
Want to put a cool twist on your next golf buddy trip to Myrtle Beach? Tired of the same games, five buck Nassaus, scrambles, shambles, points and dollar greenies, sandies, barkies, and everything in between? How about setting up as Ryder Cup format for your next trip?
Match play over three days (it could be more if you wish) takes some organization, but it can be tons of fun. Playing a Ryder Cup format match in Myrtle Beach is quite appropriate, as one of the classic Cups, the War by the Sea, was held a few hours south on Kiawah’s famous Ocean Course in 1991. Such a format also creates camaraderie and friendly competitiveness among players, and makes for some great stories and 19th hole braggadocio.
I would recommend voting for two captains and having them select teams, one player at a time. Then put your two-man teams out for four rounds of foursomes and four-ball and wind up the trip with singles matches. Teams in foursomes and four-ball earn a point for a win, and a half point for a tie, with singles scored the same way. Just imagine the excitement on the final day with the Cup (make sure to purchase a nice trophy or an expensive bottle of single malt Scotch to give to the winning team) on the line as the last few singles matches finish up. Listen, there’s probably going to some money involved on every match or total points, but make it reasonable so the matches don’t get bitter. Remember, you’re here to have fun not leave as enemies.
Just a reminder; foursomes, which is hardly ever played by recreational golfers in the United States, is an alternate shot format. Each side plays one golf ball; the golfers on that side alternate playing the strokes. While it can be fun, it’s also a very challenging format because no one wants to leave their partner in the swamplands of Myrtle Beach, so consider mixing it up with a two-man scramble or another format everyone in your group enjoys. In four-ball, each golfer on a side plays his own ball (hence, there are four balls in play on each hole, and the lower score among the two partners counts as the team score.
You can play the foursomes and four-ball matches two a day, or spread them out over four days, which seems to make more sense for a week-long visit. The last day will be reserved for singles.
Needless to say, the Ryder Cup format works best with eight or more buddies involved.
Great venues will make for a memorable Buddies Ryder Cup match. Here are a few courses that have challenge, beauty, a lot of that Kiawah Lowcountry feel, and great 19th holes to tally up the results.
Grande Dunes Resort Club was named the “National Golf Course of the Year” by the National Golf Course Owners Association of America. It’s a spectacular layout, a Roger Rulewich Group design, and positioned on a high bluff creating a spectacular view of the Intracoastal Waterway, The Marina Inn at Grande Dunes is a great place to headquarter your teams. The course is known for its links-style design, similar to The Ocean Course. The clubhouse has an outside veranda that overlooks the Resort Club’s 18th green, perfect for tallying up scores and swapping stories.
Founders Club at Pawleys Island opened in 2008 and showcases 18 one-of-a-kind holes “reinvented” by designer Thomas Walker on the former grounds of the Sea Gulf Golf Club. Founders Club at Pawleys Island offers a sublime setting for your matches – from isolated tee boxes to water features, all enhanced by a sprinkling of azaleas and towering oaks. It is the only course in the area that sports Emerald Bermuda greens, many of which are elevated and require a deft touch to navigate.
which has a stunning clubhouse worthy of hosting your own “major,” is an ideal place to get the feel of championship golf. Its 18 holes are spread out over two distinct nines and based on layouts that have hosted U.S. and British opens, The Masters and the PGA Championship, and modeled on 18 of the world’s best holes from 15 courses in three countries and nine states
The Open Nine is named for courses hosting the U.S. and British Opens, while the Championship Nine features holes inspired by the four men’s major championships: The Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship.
Jack Nicklaus-designed Long Bay Golf Club, with the course blending magically with the environment in which it is routed, is another great option. The Golden Bear kept many of the existing dogwoods, pines and maples along the course, and crystal-blue streams cut through several holes.
So, change things up on your next golf visit to Myrtle Beach and create some memories the equal of the actual Ryder Cup.