Let's admit it, no golf course is perfect. Even some of the best courses in the world have some flaws. Whether it’s location, number of people on the course, greens, fairways, tee boxes, you can call me picky, but no course is impeccable. Back to the matter at hand, which is the Big Cats Golf Courses of Ocean Ridge Plantation. This collection of well-manicured courses is located in Sunset Beach, North Carolina – a short drive from Myrtle Beach. Let’s get right into the analysis of these four courses. (Jaguar’s Lair is currently being redone, but will be the fifth course in the complex.)
• Lion’s Paw – from the blue tees, the course measures 7,003 yards. It has a course rating of 74.0 and a 132 slope rating.
• Panther’s Run – from the black tees, the course measures 7,089 yards. It has a rating of 73.7 and a 140 slope rating.
• Leopard’s Chase – from the black tees, the course measures 7,155 yards. It has a course rating of 74.3 and a 140 slope rating.
• Tiger’s Eye – from the Saber Tooth tees, the course measures 7,014 yards. It has a course rating of 73.3 and a 141 slope rating.
You won’t find a course lower than 3.5 stars on Golf Digest’s Places to Play rankings among the Big Cats. All of the courses have five sets of tees. While these courses have some very challenging holes, golfers of all skill levels will find the courses quite playable, at least lengthwise. In terms of the other aspects of these courses, golfers will find a variety of natural and well-planned obstacles. There’s a substantial amount of water on all four courses. Strategically-placed sand and waste areas also confound golfers throughout the four courses. For the most part, you will find generous landing areas off the tee. The greens are large and undulating throughout. Lion’s Paw, Leopard’s Chase and Tiger’s Eye feature bentgrass greens, while Panther’s Run features MiniVerde greens installed in 2010.
The overall experience at the Big Cats courses provides just about everything you’d expect from an upscale set of golf courses. From the starters to the groundskeepers to the clubhouse staff, everyone is quite friendly and attentive. There are times when the course is fully booked that the starters will start groups on the front and the back at the same time. As experienced golfers know, this typically causes backups on a number of holes, especially on your back nine. So you may need to exhibit some patience when you play here.
If you play all four of these courses on four straight days, it’s natural to notice some similarities in the courses. They’re built on the same coastal Carolina terrain. Some golfers may say they need more variety, especially when you could be paying triple digits for a round in peak seasons. In terms of the total golf experience, I think the Big Cats courses are worth the price of admission. Leopard’s Chase has an actual waterfall on the 18th hole. Yes, a waterfall. So if you only have the opportunity to play one course, that may be the one you choose. But do yourself a favor and play multiple Cats courses. They may not be perfect, but they still pack quite a roar.