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Story by Ian Guerin
Marsh grasses, ponds, waste and sand bunkers.
Any old course can plunk a hazard down and affect a hole. Some designers, however, found a way to get really creative with theirs. The Perfect Round series showing the best of Grand Strand golf includes several holes where the hazard not only alters strategy and playability - it is directly responsible for the hole’s personality.
The following require extra attention and preparation.
HERITAGE CLUB NO. 14
Hurricane Matthew took some of the edge off of Heritage Club’s 14th hole when a pair of protective trees at the end of the fairway were lost. They previously prevented some cheating into the right side of a two-tiered green. It made the hole easier; it didn’t make it easy. Courtesy of a significant lake that must be carried off the tee and then again while hitting into the green, Dan Maples had already ensured No. 14 would be no slouch.
The hole, which plays as long as 426 yards, has contributed to an eye-popping number of golf balls pulled from that pond. Heritage Superintendent Jim Huntoon said that the course’s diver retrieved more than 3,000 from that water (which is also in play for the island green on the previous hole) during a seven-week window in 2016. That’s an average of more than 60 balls per day.
TIDEWATER GOLF NO. 12
Instead of building hazards into one of Tidewater’s two back nine par 3s, Ken Tomlinson basically inserted a few yards of playable land into one big hazard.
Sections of the Cherry Grove Inlet and its accompanying marsh must be carried. So, too, must five green-side bunkers that serve as the “safe” zone between the target area and the retaining wall separating playing surface from marsh. As if that wasn’t enough, the green and usual prevailing winds are a contradiction in themselves.
“The green slopes from left to right, but the wind (off the ocean) comes from right to left,” Tidewater head pro Chris Cooper said. “We’re now fortunate enough to move the tees up. As long as the hole looks good, it doesn’t seem to matter if they make a double bogey.”
TPC OF MYRTLE BEACH NO. 3
The starters at TPC have been letting players know since the course opened in 1999 about some potential trouble early in the round. Specifically, a no man’s land of a forced carry over thick vegetation on par-4 No. 3 is nothing to mess around with.
“Especially for seniors, we’ll recommend to play from the forward tees,” head pro Matt Daly said. “It’s a unique hole. You want to be able to rip the driver to carry the hazard, but you really need to hit the fairway if you want to have a chance to go after the green in two.”
The actual tee requirements may not seem all that daunting; those playing from the championship tees, for instance, need to clear just 210 yards. However, with an uphill design from beginning to end, the hole, and that carry, plays longer than the scorecard would suggest.
TRUE BLUE GOLF PLANTATION NO. 18
Much like Heritage’s aforementioned hole, True Blue’s finisher requires players to fly the same water hazard twice. The difference here, however, is that the pond flows right around to the end of the back side of the green, adding an extra precise touch. By that point, it appeared as if designer Mike Strantz was simply being cruel.
Off the tees - especially from the back two - that water is at its widest crossing point. Those who elect to muscle up in hopes of leaving a shorter iron on the second shot run the risk of carrying right through the fairway and into a bailout waste bunker up the right. Those who attempt to cut any part of the meandering fairway edge may put the ball in the drink.