The opening of Barefoot Golf Resort was the high mark in the history of Myrtle Beach golf. And Tom Fazio was – and still is – the standard in golf course architecture. But it wasn’t until 2000 that the game’s premier course architect built a public course in the world’s top golf destination. It was worth the wait.
Barefoot’s Fazio Course is a spectacular layout with all the beautiful shaping and tremendous shot-making challenges one would expect from a Fazio design. The course winds along the Intracoastal Waterway through pristine wetlands and towering pines, providing the perfect backdrop for a true test of golf.
Barefoot’s unveiling in 2000 gave the Grand Strand well over 100 courses, but the North Myrtle Beach complex was a trailblazer in so many ways. Featuring 72 holes designed by four of the biggest names in golf, including Fazio and Pete Dye, arguably the two most renowned architects in the game, Barefoot raised the bar for multi-course complexes in the area. Courses designed by famed golfers/architects Greg Norman and Davis Love III also helped Barefoot build a national reputation among top players.
The Fazio layout and the others at Barefoot quickly left their footprints on the Grand Strand golf map. Perhaps Fazio’s biggest challenge was to design something unique while incorporating the artistic shaping, scenic hazards and remarkable playability he was known for from Wade Hampton in the mountains of Cashiers, N.C., to Belfair Plantation near Hilton Head Island.
The accolades started and keep pouring in. In 2014 the list included No. 9 on Golf Magazine’s List of Best Public Courses in South Carolina and No. 15 on Golfweek’s list of Best Courses You Can Play in South Carolina. Golf Digest named the Fazio tract one of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses in 2009.
At Barefoot, Fazio is at his best in using sand (sprawling to pot bunkers and waste areas) and water to make tee shots look more difficult than they actually are. Carrying a deserved reputation as one of the Grand Strand’s best-manicured layouts, Fazio features large, well-protected greens complexes filled with undulations and the latest Champion Tift Dwarf surfaces. The fairways are also the finest in Bermuda grasses.
At 6,834 yards, the yardage isn’t particularly long by today’s standards. But it’s plenty tough, registering a 139 rating and a 73.7 slope. But with four other sets of shorter tees – one is 6,350, the other three are less than 6,000 yards, it’s highly playable for golfers of all levels. The course gets your attention early, and keeps it for good at No. 5, a 499-yard, masterpiece featuring a lake to the right of the landing area and fairway bunkers on both sides, creating what appears to be a narrow target but is actually generous.
The approach at No. 5 – an extremely long par-4 from the tips – is to a tabletop green perched high above two gaping bunkers. Then it’s on to the 191-yard sixth hole, requiring an accurate tee shot to a large green divided by a ridge with water on the left. A trio of short par-4s – 386 yards and less from the championship tees – on the back nine reward accuracy rather than distance and are at least partly responsible for keeping the par-71 total yardage under 7,000 yards.
The course finishes with a roar. At 17, players must carry their drives more than 200 yards over water. At 18, a 453-yard, par-4, the predominant winds is in your face and water runs down the entire left side. Hole out and head to the Barefoot clubhouse and 19th hole, or cross the bridge and explore the Barefoot Landing entertainment, shopping and dining complex. Have a nice dinner at Greg Norman’s Australian Grill and catch a show at the House of Blues or Alabama Theatre.