Great golf courses tend to have a great deal in common with great works of music—symphonies, great albums, operas, ballets. They hit a number of high points, with the best moments coming toward the end. Early events prime the audience for the drama and joy later on. At Willbrook, though, the toughest and likely best hole on the course is the first, a 428-yard par four that doglegs to the right about live oaks to a sloping green bordered by wetlands on the left. You know, just your run-of-the-mill opening hole…yeah, right!
From there, the golf course has its moments but just never maintains the “wow” factor some first-timers might expect to continue after walking off the first green. On the front nine, the par five third is a reachable, interesting hole and the oft-photographed sixth, an island-green par three, is somewhat memorable. But it falls a bit short with a boring, flat green. Other than these, though, the front nine consists largely of holes you would expect to find at your local municipal course.
The back nine gets better, offering a little more opportunity for drama, with the drive-and-pitch par four 11th and the 12th starting a run of four holes out in open, wind-exposed land. Links golf it is not, but it is an interesting change of pace. The best hole coming in is the long 15th, a true three-shot par five. There is a somewhat awkwardly placed crossing hazard that can wreak havoc on the layup shot and the green is a toughie, sloping a good bit from back to front.
Though this Myrtle Beach golf course may be a little underwhelming, the rest of the experience at Willbrook meets or exceeds expectations consistently. Conditions-wise, you can expect Willbrook to be in consistently good nick, with the only potential exceptions being the greens—especially the ones on the more heavily-treed holes, which can get a little spotty and remain a little sluggish. But the staff, the locker rooms, and the grill and snack bar are all delightful.
Willbrook Plantation is one of four courses—along with Litchfield Country Club, River Club and Tradition Golf Club—associated with the excellent Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort. Most marketing materials will lead you to believe Willbrook is the best of the four but your humble reviewer would place it fourth. Do understand that this is less a condemnation of Willbrook than an appreciation for the stiffness of its competition. Plan your South Strand trips accordingly, and enjoy.