The Founders Club at Pawleys Island

The Course

Gary Player golf architect disciple Thomas Walker did his darnedest to sweeten up the old girl by cutting away almost all of the rough in favor of sandy waste areas just off the fairways and greens, with big, bold native grass-covered mounds framing almost all of the greens, which are elevated and undulating. It looks kind of cool but the problem is that any visitor who knows his stuff about Myrtle Beach golf is automatically reminded of True Blue, just up the road, which is far, far superior. That said, the stretch of holes 12 through 17 at Founders is quite good.

Number 12 is a slight dogleg-left par five with two fairways. Play successfully down the narrower left side and the hole is shorter, such that you’ll likely be thinking about trying for the green in two. Hit it out to the right and you’ll likely lay up toward the end of the fairway, a pond separating you from a green-in-regulation. Avoid the no-man’s-land of pot bunkers and abrupt grass hollows between the fairways and birdie is well within reach.

Number 14 is another matter altogether. At 449 yards from the tips, it is a ball-buster of a par four. It curls hard to the right around a stand of pine trees that will catch you and kill your score if you get greedy off the tee. The green, set well above the fairway, is one of the most severe on the course, sloping surprisingly hard from back to front. It’s a putting surface you might expect to see on one of the classic courses at Pinehurst rather than Pawleys Island, but this is a welcome feature.

The Experience

Founders is kept in good—not great—shape and the peripherals are pretty disappointing. I played on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon and had the whole place to myself. I don’t mind playing 18 holes in two hours, but the place was pretty much a ghost town, sans tumbleweeds. The pro was very friendly and the bag drop attendant was nice enough, but didn’t make the slightest move to grab my bag from my car and the golf cart he gave me had sand all over the floor from the morning’s play. Oh, and the days of GPS carts at Founders Club seem to be long gone. Yardage books? Forget it!

The Verdict

There is some potential at Founders Club, but I am left to wonder the extent to which the place is hanging by a thread financially. If you have an opening in your South Strand golf itinerary for an afternoon round one day, look them up. But there’s little need to go out of your way to play Founders at the moment.

posted 1/18/13

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