Myrtle Beach Golf Writers Chris King and Ian Guerin take time after their round to talk about what golfers can expect when playing Willbrook Plantation Golf Club(This was a Facebook Live Broadcast)
Chris: Well, welcome to Willbrook Plantation. I’m Chris King and I’m joined today by Ian Guerin. We played a beautiful 18 out here this morning on a sunny day, a little muggy but a nice breeze helped keep it cool. Here at Willbrook on the south strand, Ian, you know to me this is really one of the areas hidden gems.
Ian: Yeah, the course is beautiful, our game not so much. I do love coming out here, though. I’ve made several trips here and in the last five years I’ve probably played here six or seven times. A lot of it is work related, but I enjoy coming down here. I like the historical aspect of the course. I like the layout of the course. I like the fact that the front nine does not feel exactly the same as the back nine. I like that kind of diversity in a layout. It works well. My game is not one where I’m going to find a rhythm and go, go, go. I want to see a lot of different things and this kind of gives me that.
Chris: Well, you do have a lot of, you have the chance to see a lot of different things out here, too.
Chris: You know you had mentioned that you had played out here quite a bit, for me this was actually probably the first time in, it could have been ten years since I’d played a full 18 out here, so it was really, it was nice to get back and kind of be reminded of some of what makes this golf course special.
Chris: I mean, to me, what I really like about it is that, when you come here this a South Carolina golf course.
Chris: You’ve got the low country feel. I mean, regardless of whether you’re playing well or you’re struggling. Like, to me, you never forget these oak trees, draped in Spanish moss that frame the course out here. I mean, I think particularly if you’re traveling, right? Like it creates those take home memories that people appreciate. But, I’ll tell you, I mean, in looking back on our round, the one thing that stands out to me, is, I mean, when you get to the first tee here if I could give people one piece of advice it would be, hey, when you peg it for the first time, be ready.
Ian: Yeah, yeah. Three of the first, you know, the first three holes you’ve got two, six and eight handicaps, I believe. And, while some people argue with how accurate that can be, you’re going to feel it right off the bat. You’re going to know that, like okay, you better be ready to go.
Ian: You’re not going to want to come out here without hitting the range first. Luckily I did that today, so maybe those sevens and eights were fives and sixes in my book, that’s pretty good. Starting off a round it usually takes me a little bit to warm up so you’re definitely going to want to make sure that you’ve stretched, especially if you’re an old guy like us. Make sure you’re ready to go before you hit number one.
Chris: Absolutely because that is arguably the… I mean you can’t go right on that one, but you know the one thing that, I mean this is a Dan Maples design and the one thing he did, you know, yeah, that opening three holes it’s tough. But, you know, once you get through those and the course really kind of opens up, as does your chance to score. I know you really enjoyed, you know, the fifth hole out there.
Ian: Yeah, I liked the double carry over the water on five. It’s a fun hole for me because a lot of that distance isn’t real distance and so it makes the hole feel shorter than it’s already listed at. Which it isn’t listed as a long hole so, you know, a lot of people do have a chance to attack the green and too, without being that superb golfer and converse to the first three holes of the day and even four, which isn’t a cake walk, it’s nice to then, you know, you had five, six, seven and you’re like, “okay, now I can breathe a little bit. Now I’m getting comfortable. Let’s finish off, you know, the rest of the first nine.”
Chris: Yeah and you know what? I mean, you mentioned six, that’s a really short par three to your point. There is water there, but you know, look that’s as much a mental obstacle as it is a physical one. I mean, you know, the hole plays short, the pin was up today. I mean this hole was probably playing, I think I lasered it at 110 yards, so that’s an easy swing with a club that isn’t going to demand a lot of precision.
Chris: It’s a great little hole there, but, again gives you another chance to score. It’s followed by seven, which to me, is arguably the easiest par four on the golf course. I mean, it’s really open. Again, you’ve got a chance, you’ve got some margin for error, so you know, you get through those first three holes and you know what, the course is going to open up for you out here.
Ian: Well, that’s what you said. Seven, I mean I felt more comfortable taking a full swing with a driver there. Because you know, slice or hook and sure enough it goes down the middle and like you said, the mental block of the par three at six, that’s kind of, it’s the reverse effect on seven. Now you’re feeling like you’ve got all this room to work with and you know, you’re not worried about slicing into some of those willows on the right. You’re not worried about going in the water on the left, and you know you got all this room to play with and I think for me that said, in my mind, just calm down, just hit the ball. And, that was one of my better drives of the day.
Chris: Yeah. Well, exactly. It was the same here. I mean, that was really I kind of started to get my feet under me a little, relatively speaking, of course, around that time. Again, you get there so it’s really you have the opportunity to close the back nine strong. And nine, I believe is the par five. Beautiful, I love the little brick staircase coming up there, the oak trees, so it’s a nice way to finish. Now, in a way, for me, the back nine was a different nine. Which as I think you had referenced that, earlier, is really nice.
Ian: It does feel like if you took either one of these nines you could detach and do a different course and I think if you told people these are actually two different courses I don’t think there would be that hard of a sell. I mean, you’ve got the historical markers and things like that, that would tell you otherwise but it does have … Nine to me, felt like it looks easier but it actually plays harder, you know, versus the first nine here. I think that, like I said, I like that diversity. I like being challenged more and more as you go, especially after you get a number of easier holes, like we did, five, six, seven, eight.
Chris: Gotcha. Yeah, I mean, you had mentioned it, you know this isn’t a golf course where every hole looks the same. You know, for me, actually I thought that the back nine was potentially a little softer. I would have seen that a little differently because I felt like it was a little more open off the tee. So, again, really you had some room to spray it there, but, I can tell you this, to me, the most difficult hole on the golf course was certainly on the back nine. And, I think it was one you wanted to talk about, 15.
Ian: Fifteen. Yeah, I felt like I dropped the hammer off the drive and I get up there and I realized I haven’t hit it as hard or as far as I wanted to and then I walk up and I’m like I forgot about the marsh. So, then I got to lay up in front of the marsh and then I duffed one into the marsh, not that that’s germane to anything you guys need to know about.
Ian: But, I duff one into the marsh and then I take a drop and then I hit nice and soft, because you can’t go hard with a little bit of a bend right on there and I’m barely in front of the 150 marker. So, all of a sudden I’m looking up and just a slight uptick into the green, hitting five and where did that hole go, you know? And I talked to Craig, the guy that was playing with us today and I asked him about it and he just said, “I want to go back and play that one again because now that I know what it’s all about.” And, I’m guessing a lot of first-timers here have that reaction to 15.
Chris: Yeah, you know, again, for me, hadn’t having been out here in a long time, that one kind of jumped up and sort of slapped me in the face a little bit. Because it looked, even to your point, you felt like you hit your drive well. I think that’s a hole where for mid to high handicappers you could feel like you played that hole pretty well and still kind of struggle. Because even with a, I would say, and look, I don’t have the yardages with me exact, but, I mean you hit it 225 to 35 yard drive and you probably still got 140 yards over the marsh, something like that. So, maybe not quite that far, but there’s still meat left on the bone.
Ian: Yeah and if you’re not in the fairway, I mean, the roughs here are not super thick but they’re enough where they’re going to shave some yardage off and so now all of a sudden that easy 160 yard shot over the marsh is now feeling a little bit more daunting. And, you know, case in point I dunk right into it. So, you know, I think that’s one of those holes out here that kind of signifies that the more you play the more comfortable you’re going to get and even as much as I’ve played out here in the last five years, I went to the tee box and I had forgotten about it and obviously all I had to one of these and went, oh yeah, okay, that’s the marsh hole, on the second shot, I should have known better but it got the better of me.
Chris: Hey, you’re not the only one that hole’s got the better of. But yeah, you know what, really a very enjoyable day out here. You know the one thing I think I would tell people like if you’re going to miss particularly off the tee, don’t do it right. I mean maybe it’s the way the course, you know, fits my eye, but it seemed to me like that’s where a lot of the big oak trees were and you know, look, again, your eye’s drawn to that stuff, too. I mean it’s where a lot of the beauty is, but again, it’s not a course you want to be pushing the ball on.
Ian: Right, and we were talking about this out there, too. It’s not like either one of us were going slice heavy all day, but we both noticed the same thing, is that, you know, those doglegs, they’re not extreme, but they’re accented by a big tree with the moss hanging down and all of a sudden you’re like, okay, well how far left of that thing do I need to go? Can I skirt it around the right? Is there anyway I can go over the top?
Ian: All of a sudden your whole shot selection is based off of one tree and I felt like, you know, a good number of the holes here, maybe as many as half of them, were based off that, for me. Like, okay, how far left do I need to go? If I catch a little bit of that moss, how much is it going to slow me down? You know, how many times am I going to have to punch out? Those are all things that I was thinking throughout this round. You know, one through 18.
Chris: Well, yeah, I mean look I mean and that stuff, it impacts every shot on a hole. And, you know, look, we’ve talked about the course from a high handicapper’s perspective. I think the white tees play at about between 62 and 6300 yards, which to me is actually a pretty good length. It’s not too short, but it’s certainly not too long and if you are a long hitter out here, I think, as Craig, the guy we played with today, he had a little more length than we did, I think it’s fair to say.
Ian: Yeah, he’s-
Chris: Now if you have that, you know the course opens up for you and you have the ability to play the ball over a couple of those doglegs and it could really open up for you. Unfortunately, that’s a game about which I can’t speak very well.
Ian: Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to learn that game anytime soon. But, we saw that with Craig’s club selection versus ours. We’re hitting our drivers almost off all the par fours. You know, he’s hitting, you know, a low iron and just plunking it next to the 150 marker and he’s barely swinging. And, obviously that’s a different skill set and you know, physical abilities and things like that.
Ian: But, you know, I don’t think that if he would have played back, I don’t think that he would have had the success because you know, his game is long irons and easier shots into the green. I don’t know that he would have enjoyed it as much. But, again, he also said he hadn’t played very much lately, either. So, you know, that’s something to take into consideration. But, as you said, that 62 to 6300 yards, for me, even not being a big hitter off of the tee box, I didn’t feel like it was too long.
Chris: No, and hey, by the way, and just a statement about tees people who choose to play. Good for Craig for playing there too.
Chris: Right. Like, he had the length to step back and play. He’d have to hit a lot more drivers but it’s a club he’s not as comfortable with, so hey, these were the tees to play and a way for him to play today and if we all thought about the game that way a little more we’d all be better off.
Ian: And, hey he wanted to have fun with the course. I mean, we’ve written about this. I mean, I think both of us have in the last several months. I mean, the whole point of golf is to go have fun, not to feel like you had your butt handed to you and you want to rip up the scorecard at the end of the round, you know. He had fun, you know. He came out here, he had a couple birdies, especially here on 18, with that nice chip-in there. He had a lot of fun. He wants to come back and play golf again and for him it was because he chose the right set of tees.
Chris: Well, and you know what, look, I think fun is what a lot of what this golf course is.