For years, we’ve profiled every part of the famed Waccamaw Golf Trail.
But never quite like this.
The 11 courses from Murrells Inlet down to Pawleys Island are a highlight for the area’s already developed golf scene. They also include some of the South Strand’s most dynamic holes. We wanted to try to have some extra fun with them.
Utilizing our imagination – and some commonly held beliefs about the game – we’ve -packaged some of the best into one 18-hole round. We threw only a couple of caveats into this. First, it had to be a Par-72 layout. Easy enough (on you and us). Second, we did not select more than two holes from any single course. We’re all about spreading the wealth. From there, we played one heck of a fun game of Tetris to maximize what each hole meant to the overall look of the imagined track.
It led us to an 18-hole design that chimes in at 6,325 yards from the standard men’s tees. We’re calling it the Waccamaw Golf Trail Open.
Let ‘er rip.
HOLE NO. 1
Tradition Club, No. 7, Par 4, 377 Yards
About the hole: From the white tees, a huge fairway gives players up to 277 yards to land their ball before flirting with a pond that creates a forced carry into the green. The rails around that green prevent lucky shots, but the green itself has some room to play with.
Why we picked it: We wanted to grab your attention without destroying your round right away. This hole achieves both of those goals. As long as you don’t Happy Gilmore the ball off the tee, the wide landing area and shorter fairway before the carry is a great kickstarter.
HOLE NO. 2
River Club, No. 15, Par 4, 384 Yards
About the hole: Tom Jackson’s first appearance of the round includes a double water carry, although the first is only in play for those who shoot left off the tee. The fairway, though, is forgiving and allows those who find it a chance at par.
Why we picked it: The visual element of this hole is much more intimidating than regulars have come to understand. Still, it could be a fantastic early round hole if it was routed differently. All that water draws your eye away from reality.
HOLE NO. 3
Pawleys Plantation Golf Club, No. 4, Par 5, 468 Yards
About the hole: Complete with a slight dogleg left, three fairway pot bunkers (that serve as an anti-target), a huge waste bunker up the left and a large greenside bunker, the elevation changes in the fairway alone make this a doozy.
Why we picked it: Anyone who scores well here could propel themselves to the type of round they tell their kids about. It’s a huge confidence builder, both because of the design of the hole and the person (Jack Nicklaus) who designed it.
HOLE NO. 4
TPC Myrtle Beach No. 3, Par 4, 410 Yards
About the hole: An elevated green with three bunkers just off the front lips is akin to the finishing line in a sprint. That’s because the long waste carry off the tee forces you to muscle up and cut off as much distance as possible.
Why we picked it: The wow factor of this hole enlightens first-timers who weren’t exactly sure what Tom Fazio was going for at TPC. And just like that course, our fictional one needs to be able to keep your head on a swivel.
HOLE NO. 5
Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, No. 11, Par 3, 150 Yards
About the hole: Normally the first short hole of the back nine at Caledonia, a deft touch is required to pin-point a green that is by itself large but otherwise obstructed by only the small stream that cuts in front of it.
Why we picked it: If we’re trying to see what mindset players have, what better way to do it than by going with the type of Par 3 early on that won’t give you much doubt as to your mental capacity for tackling the task at hand.
HOLE NO. 6
Blackmoor Golf Club, No. 8, Par 4, 347 Yards
About the hole: Gary Player’s signature hole at Blackmoor is a choose-your-own adventure from the tee box. Golfers can either take the long way – which includes a 90-degree dogleg – or attempt the navigate the direct path. It’s 100 yards shorter, but no gimme through rough grass.
Why we picked it: The risk-reward feel of this hole puts a new dimension on a front nine that is otherwise fairly straightforward. We also place it here because going the short way also requires you to be 100-percent warmed up and ready to give it a try.
HOLE NO. 7
Litchfield Country Club, No. 16, Par 5, 502 Yards
About the hole: Three ponds help frame not just one, but two doglegs here. It creates a feel of a squeezed fairway throughout, but easing off the swing some can get players through the chute of those ponds and trees relatively unscathed.
Why we picked it: The first of two double doglegs in our round, Litchfield’s 16th is less exaggerated and still very much about its length. The corridor jumps up and bites players who try to do too much, something that’s been happening since this course opened in 1966.
HOLE NO. 8
Pawleys Plantation Golf Club, No. 13, Par 3, 69 Yards
About the hole: The “Shortest Par 5 on the Grand Strand” is a marsh-riffic hole that starts with a landing strip tee box hitting perpendicular onto a large green (shared with another hole). In front, behind and to the left of that green is a vacuum of space where balls disappear.
Why we picked it: As one of the most noticeable holes in the entire area, the quirkiness of this Par 3 would stand out in any grouping. Watching players pick clubs here is worth the price of admission all by its lonesome.
HOLE NO. 9
True Blue Golf Club, No. 18, Par 4, 406 Yards
About the hole: Off every tee, players are required to fly a wide and lengthy pond that pivots to run parallel with the fine two-thirds of the hole. Decent placement gives even average players a shot at the green in regulation.
Why we picked it: We wanted to add a touch of symmetry to our fictional design, and what better way to do it than with a Mike Strantz finisher on both nines. Much like our No. 18, it requires a nice water carry at a huge target.
HOLE NO. 10
Wachesaw East, No. 9, Par 4, 390 Yards
About the hole: Four large bunkers and a slight dogleg right define this Clyde Johnston hole that is also one of the most interesting Wachesaw East has to offer. Just for good measure, there’s some fairway and approach mounding thrown into the mix.
Why we picked it: While not an impossible hole to start the back, using Wachesaw East’s hole here also snaps you back into the right mindset after that pitstop at the turn. Avoiding both the water and the bunkers is all about getting some tunnel vision in a hurry.
HOLE NO. 11
TPC Myrtle Beach, No. 18, Par 5, 473 Yards
About the hole: The multi-tiered fairway tends to feel like its playing even more uphill that it really does. And while that fairway is relatively wide, the distance of this hole and the green positioning tucked left a hair means it’s not slouch.
Why we picked it: While everyone’s eye drifts to the pond up the final 40 percent of the left side of the hole, the minuscule stream up the right tends to sneak up and bite players. That silent killer increases the attention to detail necessary to succeed to this doozy.
HOLE NO. 12
River Club, No. 7, Par 4, 328 Yards
About the hole: Sandwiched nearly start to finish on both sides by water – it’s a Tom Jackson course, so, duh – this shorter Par 4 is all about touch. Anything into the back quarter of the landing zone has players in position for a birdie.
Why we picked it: With what’s happened before and after, we knew that a slightly easier hole or at least the potential for one was going to be necessary. Most players could leave the driver in the bag here in lieu of a great chance at Par or Birdie.
HOLE NO. 13
Founders Club, No. 11, Par 3, 166 Yards
About the hole: The sand-heavy course didn’t abandon its M.O. when it came to this Par 3. Sand is freaking everywhere, with the exception of a long landing-strip approach that acts as a line from tee to green. It’s the only place you can miss and not find sand.
Why we picked it: Par 3s that don’t use water often tend to blend into the background some. But that won’t happen with this hole. All that framing by what is essentially one huge waste bunker on steroids will grab your attention right away.
HOLE NO. 14
Willbrook Plantation Golf Club, No. 1, Par 4, 400 Yards
About the hole: With minimal room to miss, Willbrook’s first hole doglegs right at the midway point. Players frequently ease up into this, although some with some early round bravado attempt to muscle up and cut the corner.
Why we picked it: While this hole works so well as an opening hole normally, we’d love to see what the second-hardest stretch at Willbrook would do later on in a round. That tree up the left side could be one of those make-or-break points in the back nine.
HOLE NO. 15
True Blue Golf Club, No. 6, Par 4, 383 Yards
About the hole: From the get go, players are required to carry a natural grass area that stretches to 170 or so yards dead center. After that, it’s all about navigating the dueling waste bunkers that hug the fairway and steer you to either of the two greens.
Why we picked it: We didn’t have a lot of forced carries in our round, so that helped. But the two greens would give a fictional tournament director some flexibility in how to play into, out of or across any potential wind. This could be a fun addition for the WGT Open.
HOLE NO. 16
Tradition Club, No. 15, Par 3, 157 Yards
About the hole: The “island” green is actually more properly defined as a peninsula, but only because of the sliver of land that connects the putting surface to the rest of dry land. The green is huge, but pin placement dictates how many shots will roll back into the water.
Why we picked it: Precision has to count for something later in a round, and designer Ron Garl found a cool way to do it with this mid-range Par 3. The overhang of the tree just left of the green provides for a cool spot to park a miniature camera.
HOLE NO. 17
Wachesaw East, No. 7, Par 5, 530 Yards
About the hole: This double dogleg has some undulated fairways spots that can increase or decrease certain types of shots. It’s all about angles, and shaving distance is all but impossible given just enough of the tree lines on the bends.
Why we picked it: After a few shorter holes leading into this one, we needed to add some length one final time. This snaking hole features plenty of it from start to finish, and it would create some separation between any pretenders and contenders in a tournament format.
HOLE NO. 18
Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, No. 18, Par 4, 362 Yards
About the hole: Arguably Mike Strantz’s most talked-about hole here, the finisher at Caledonia perfectly blends history, the environment, and the game. A huge pond separates the tee and fairway from the green and clubhouse.
Why we picked it: It’s not all that difficult of a hole, but to really score well here, you need to think through the tee shot and place it just right. Do that, and you could be rewarded one last time.
THE COURSE, BROKEN DOWN
Par 5s (4)
*Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club, No. 4 (468 yards)
*Wachesaw East, No. 7 (530 yards)
*TPC of Myrtle Beach, No. 18 (496 yards)
*Litchfield Country Club, No. 16 (502 yards)
Par 4s (10)
*Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, No. 18 (362 yards)
*Tradition Golf Club, No. 7 (377 yards)
*True Blue Golf Club, No. 18 (406 yards)
*True Blue Golf Club, No. 6 (383 yards)
*Blackmoor Golf Club, No. 8 (347 yards)
*Willbrook Plantation, No. 1 (400 yards)
*Wachesaw East, No. 9 (390 yards)
*TPC of Myrtle Beach, No. 3 (410 yards)
*River Club, No. 15 (384 yards)
*River Club, No. 7 (328 yards)
Par 3s (4)
*Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, No. 11 (150 yards)
*Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club, No. 13 (69 yards)
*Founders Club of Pawleys Island, No. 11 (166 yards)
*Tradition Golf Club, No. 15 (157 yards)