Avocet Course at Wild Wing Plantation: The Big Cheese Now Stands Alone

The go-go days of “120 Courses! 120 Courses!” on the Grand Strand are, unfortunately, over. But in some cases, that paring back of supply from the world’s largest golf destination has worked to the benefit of some courses. The Avocet Course at Wild Wing Plantation survived the mild exodus of the early 2000s, while its former comrades the Falcon and Wood Stork Courses fell away completely and the Hummingbird Course was hacked up into nine short holes.

In the past, the Avocet Course was somewhat submerged by the presence of three other golf courses. The 72-hole Wild Wing Plantation was a golf facility where there wasn’t a clear hierarchy among the courses. Turns out Avocet was the best, and now that it is more or less on its own, it has earned some long-overdue recognition.

The Course
The Avocet Course opened in 1993 and was designed by Jeff Brauer with an assist from thrice-major champion Larry Nelson. Brauer, while not a household name among golfers, is a past president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), which means he knows his stuff. Indeed, he applied plenty of good stuff to Avocet’s 18 holes, which include, in the author’s informed opinion, the best single golf hole in Myrtle Beach. That’s right—not the “Waterloo” hole at the Dunes Club, not any of the marshside holes at Tidewater or Pawleys Plantation and not even a hole from True Blue or Caledonia. Instead, the 14th hole at the Avocet Course is the best: a 300-yard par four that can be played, depending on the day’s pin position, seven or eight different ways. Two mid-irons, a hybrid and a short iron, a wood and a wedge, an attempt to drive the green…to two different fairways. The hole manages to be complicated without being contrived, which is extremely difficult to do. It alone is worth the decidedly reasonable cost of a round at Avocet.

Many other holes at Avocet are worthy, largely on the strength of putting surfaces with nice movement in the form of interior and exterior mounding, tiers, shelves and false edges. But #14 is the unquestioned highlight. If you happen to play the course on a slow day and you won’t be holding up groups behind you, play #14 with two or three different balls.

Nothing’s perfect, though, and Avocet suffers from a couple banal holes, particularly the par-5 7th and 11th holes.

The Experience
In addition to a solid course, Avocet tends to be in very good condition—quite good, in fact, given its middle-tier average rates. That is to say that there are a number of courses in the area that are more expensive to play but tend to be in somewhat less nice shape than Avocet.

The Verdict
Avocet should be a mainstay of any Myrtle Beach golf trip itinerary that focuses on courses in the central part of the Grand Strand. Could it be worth the trip up from Pawleys or down from Calabash or Little River? Eh, maybe.

(posted 12/18/13)

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