Story by Chris King
Joe Dipre, the head pro at Grande Dunes Resort Club, played middle linebacker for the Pitt Panthers. Trepidation doesn’t come naturally to a man who used to confront offensive lineman and meet running backs in the hole, but ask him about the scariest shot at Grande Dunes and he doesn’t hesitate. Whether you are a former collegiate linebacker or a team manager in high school, the par 3, 14th hole at Grande Dunes strikes a little fear in every golfer.
Grande Dunes has five holes that play along the Intracoastal Waterway, none more exhilarating than the 14th. An elevated tee box offers a stunning vista of one of Myrtle Beach’s five best par 3s. The hole ranges in length from 122 (red tees) to 244 yards (black tees), with most players teeing it up from the 158-yard white tees. No matter where you play from, the tee shot will be the most daunting swing of the day at Grande Dunes. Your eyes will naturally gravitate to the Intracoastal, but it’s only part of the task. Golfers need to carry a large pond in front of the tee and avoid a bunker on the right as well. “It’s a heckuva a hole,” Dipre said. “Grande Dunes is a windy course and if it’s in your face, the challenge increases.”
If you are struggling with your swing, there is bailout room to the left, but it leaves a daunting up-and-down, playing to a green that cants from left to right toward the Waterway. Speaking of the green, like nearly every other putting surface at Grande Dunes, it’s large. Did I mention No. 14 sits in the heart of Grande Dunes’ toughest stretch? The 13th is a meaty par 5 and No. 15 is a testy par 4 that plays along the Intracoastal. Survive this trio of holes and a strong finish should await.
What do you need to do to thrive on the 14th hole at Grande Dunes? Here is Dipre’s advice:
1. Enjoy the view but don’t get lost in its beauty. Take a picture (everyone else does!) and then return your focus to the task at hand.
2. Pick a target and concentrate on it, as opposed to the waterway and the pond. If you are antsy about the shot or your swing in general, aim a little left because you can recover from there.
3. Trust your swing and hit a solid shot. Whatever you do, don’t balloon a ball into the air, leaving your fate to the mercy of the wind, because you likely won’t like the result.
Yes, the 14th tee shot is the day’s scariest swing but the challenge, combined with the hole’s beauty, is what makes it special.