Farmstead Golf Links—Grand Strand Golf Without Borders

Of approximately 100 golf courses in the Myrtle Beach area—on either side of the North Carolina-South Carolina border, one would imagine that more than one course would jump back and forth, able to claim residence in two states. Nevertheless, that distinction belongs solely to Farmstead, whose designer Willard Byrd had the good sense to realize that the course couldn’t get by on the mere novelty of taking players back and forth a total of four times, all on the course’s second nine, with the 18th hole beginning in South Carolina and ending at the foot of the clubhouse in North Carolina. In the end, this curiosity is just gravy on the experience of playing one of the Beach’s “sleeper” golf courses. It receives less ink and buzz than many other tracks, but it makes a great addition to any Myrtle Beach area golf vacation.

After a relatively benign opening par four, the second hole at Farmstead presents a truer introduction. It is a lengthy dogleg-right two-shotter where the player is invited to make a choice off the tee of whether to play short of a bunker or challenge a tapering fairway that cants downhill and to the right toward a hazard, with the green on the other side. At 269 yards off the back tee box, the bunker, though smallish in its own right, completely dictates the strategy needed to play the hole properly. The putting surface is guarded on the left by another bunker, which makes a right-to-left approach best for most hole locations. While holes on many courses can seem tossed-off and one-dimensional, number two is a cut above and a welcome challenge for the thinking golfer.

Hole number 12 is the highlight of an above-average set of par threes at Farmstead. At 192 yards from the tips, it is also the second-shortet of the five. With a green angled from front-left to rear-right, it resembles a reverse-Redan template par three made popular by classic architects Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor. An added twist is that the hole’s seven tee boxes are arrayed such that the hole can play from considerably different angles one day to the next. A mound on the left side of the green can be used to access rear-right hole locations and as the greens at Farmstead are kept reasonably firm and fast, it can be a joy to watch one’s ball roll across the green toward the hole.

One would be remiss in profiling Farmstead without mentioning its signature, closing hole, a 767-yard, par six where, famously, players tee off in South Carolina and hole their final putts in North Carolina. Between those two locations sit a serpentine fairway, half a dozen bunkers and a pond that that affect he considerations surrounding each shot. The hole plays slightly downhill the entire way, giving players a clear view from the tee of what they must do. It is a potentially thrilling and unique end to any match, where scores from 4 to 8 are possible.

Posted 12/11/12

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