Golfers can be a hard group to impress. It's not that they are a cynical sort; it's just that they have seen every cheap attempt by some golf courses to misrepresent themselves – the fancy looking clubhouse and jacked up greens fees only to play on a subpar course. You leave the layout feeling like you order filet mignon but were served a cheeseburger.
Guests at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club don't have to worry about quality or authenticity. Situated on a special piece of Pawleys Island property that previously served as rice and indigo plantation, Caledonia was designed by Mike Stranz to preserve the natural beauty of the Lowcountry landscape while providing a championship-caliber round of golf.
It all begins with your arrival off a back road in Pawley Island to a turn off onto a long driveway lined by a white-picket fence and live oak trees draped with Spanish moss. This is the same scenic driveway that once led to the antebellum plantation home, but now transports golfers to the beautiful clubhouses that oozes with true Southern charm and hospitality both inside and out. Caledonia is ranked No. 72 on Golf Digest's list of “America's 100 Greatest Public Courses” and No. 27 on Golf Magazine's list of “The Top 100 You Can Play.” It's also the No. 3 ranked course in South Carolina, according to Golfweek.
The atmosphere and accolades are nice but golfers know the real proof is the course itself, and Caledonia delivers a true gem. Measuring 6,526 feet from the tips, Caledonia is strategically designed and laid out to take advantage of the natural hazards without altering the character of the landscape. Tidal creeks, ponds and wetlands are sprinkled throughout a course marked by dense woodlands. Tight, tree-lined fairways, shots over water and waste areas, and perfectly placed bunkers serve as dangerous obstacles between the tees and the greens.
Caledonia starts golfers off with a bit of a confidence booster with the 376-yard first hole – the shortest par 4 on the course. There's no major threat of water until No. 7, where you tee off from beneath a canopy of trees and try to carry over a creek that flows into lake that lines the entire left side of the fairway. Play it right and you must avoid trees and waste bunkers to play this par 4, which is just shy of 400 yards.
The par-5 eighth is even tougher, and is considered one of the best holes on the Grand Strand. Making par or better on this hole requires two carries over the water – one off the tee and the second guarding the green. Try your best to stay dry and under par. Caledonia throws you another bone with a water-free, par-3 at No. 9, your best chance of making a birdie before hitting the back nine and enjoying a cup of Caledonia's delicious seafood chowder or other seasonal treat.
No. 10 requires distance and precision as the 535-yard par 5 is guarded almost entirely by the bunker on the right. The green is tucked away beneath the bunker on a lower level, presenting some blind shot for those who play it too safe to the left. No. 11 is a long par 5 with a pine tree-lined fairway and a creek crossing cutting across the fairway. Water comes into play virtually the rest of the way, including a carryover off the tee on No. 12, a lake-protected green on the double dogleg of No. 13, and a creek running down the left side from tee to green on No. 14.
The home stretch is highlighted by No. 16, a 417-yarder with a two-tiered green positioned just over water, and No. 18, perhaps the best finishing hole on the Grand Strand, requires a water crossing at the midpoint of the fairway. There's added pressure to finish well since the crowd on the clubhouse porch is likely wagering drinks on your performance. Join them for a post-round beverage at one of the best 19th holes on the local Myrtle Beach golf scene.