The 1980s marked a time of explosion in the golf world, with hundreds of new courses opening every year. Perhaps nowhere was this truer than golf in Myrtle Beach, where the complement of courses more than doubled in that decade.
It was in that decade that the Golden Bear left his mark on the region, designing two courses nearly simultaneously that sit roughly 44 miles apart but close kin in visuals, shot values and quality: Pawleys Plantation Golf and Country Club in the south and Long Bay Club in the north.
The latter is set more inland and may not enjoy the marsh-side setting of the former but it is long on charm and challenge, beari
ng many of Nicklaus’ trademarks.
Strategic mounding is an especially prevalent hallmark of Nicklaus courses of Long Bay’s approximate age (it opened in 1988). This begins on the very first hole, a gentle dogleg left where that mounding pops up down the right side, serving actually to corral many a loose first swing of the day. The kinder, gentler Jack?
Kind of. That first green, like many on the course, is fairly small and pushed-up, rewarding the higher-ball hitter who can drop an approach like the proverbial butterfly with sore feet.
The other “first hole,” the 10th, is an even better example of both these Nicklausian principles. It is by far the most-photographed hole at Long Bay, its pedestal-like fairway and green complexes separated by and surrounded by an expansive waste area that partially doubles as the hole’s cart path. Finding the fairway appears to be no easy task, but the situation is helped by those Nicklaus mounds, which are a nod to the “chocolate drops” used by classic golf course architects Donald Ross, Walter Travis and others. A player whose tee shot wobbles off-line and appears to be bunker-bound may well be helped by the shoulders of one of the many mounds that line the landing area.
There is relatively little in the way of saving grace three holes later on the par-3 13th hole, which plays a relatively benign 156 yards when one looks at the scorecard. But one look from the tee box reveals an island green with scant room for error. A ball that pitches on the edge of the green on anything but a wet day will likely find the drink. Don’t reach in after the lost pellet, as an alligator may already be making its way over to investigate.
The closing hole—perhaps second-most-photographed to the 10th—is a classic Nicklaus finisher: a long par 4 requiring a high fade (the shot Nicklaus owned throughout his career) to a green guarded on the right by more agua. A par there will make the first post-round beverage taste all them ore refreshing.
For more information on Long Bay Club myrtlebeachgolf.com/courses/show/long-bay-club/ and its 21 Prime Times Signature siblings, visit www.MBN.com or call (877) 241-5992.