LONGS, S.C. -- The pictures of hole no. 10 at Long Bay Golf Club have almost become synonymous with the course itself.
From overhead, the mid-range par 4 has a waste bunker the shape of a tuning fork surrounding a narrow fairway. It's become known as the premier hole on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course.
It doesn't take long, however, for some players to think otherwise.
"I think there could be other holes here that could be the signature hole," said Montreal native Anthony Mancini during a recent 10-day golf excursion to South Carolina's Grand Strand. "From the airplane view, it's the signature hole. From the player perspective, it's not. I think no. 18 could be, or the island green [on no. 13]."
"I don't know if it's necessarily the signature hole," added Michael Burnside, the head professional at Long Bay. "It's the most photographed, and the ones they use for the posters. But you have 18 good ones out there."
Consider it a good problem to have -- unless you're looking for an easy golf course.
Long Bay is much more than the 6,209 yards it plays from the whites or even the 7,025 yards top-end golfers face from the blacks.
The golf course utilizes waste bunkers, deep pot bunkers and extreme elevation differences around the greens, and a number of holes challenge your depth perception.
It can make a good round take a downward turn in a hurry, but it can also offer a more rewarding test.
"It's a challenge, but it's fair," said Mancini, an 8-handicap. "The design is really nice. Most shots, you have to carry the bunkers. You have no choice to get to the green."
The inexperienced player's only redemption is that you can use driver on 13 of 18 holes. The four par 3s -- including the beautiful island green on no. 13 -- and no. 15, in which a water hazard cuts across the width of the fairway, are the only holes where a different club is necessary.
The rest of the course will push players. Four holes include large waste bunkers either parallel and/or in the middle of the fairway. A short dogleg and nine bunkers affect the approach shot on the 485-yard, par-4 seventh. And the left side of the 327-yard, par-4 ninth is entirely water.
It all wraps up with the 368-yard, par-4 18th, which features a 90-degree dogleg right.
Again, don't expect an easy track.
It's something Burnside figured out immediately after recently being transferred to Long Bay following 11 years at Myrtle Beach National.
"The elevated greens -- the greens are very shallow," he said. "You have to play the proper tees out here."
Long Bay comes complete with a full snack bar and drink cart that makes frequent trips around the course. The semi-private course also has a driving range and putting green located conveniently near the pro shop for those waiting to tee off.
The course also has varied instruction options for players of all ages and skill levels.
With several holes generally considered some of the toughest on the Grand Strand by multiple publications, Long Bay Golf Club is not for the once-a-year golfer. But even high handicaps, however, can enjoy a round.
For those looking to save a few dollars, the National Golf Management group also has several discount programs that couple a round at Long Bay with others in the area.
Either way, Long Bay is well worth it. The course has plenty of great holes and picturesque scenery, and it's more than simply hole no. 10.
April 4, 2013