MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Art Williams has been playing golf on the Grand Strand for years.
The North Myrtle Beach resident and member of a large weekly playing group at another course, however, found something he liked about his first trip to Myrtle Beach National's SouthCreek Course.
Amid a picturesque background with a reasonable price centrally located just outside Myrtle Beach, the golf was, well, true.
"It's very neat and very clean," Williams said. "The conditions of the fairway are very nice. The ball sits up nice, and you can pick it nice and clean.
"There were some hidden hazards I couldn't see, but with my playing partners, it was easy enough to figure it out."
Williams hit the nail on the head.
There aren't any gimmicks attached to SouthCreek. It's just golf at one of its purest forms.
Pristine tee boxes and greens, fairways without glitches and clearly marked site lines are the standard here. And it's why locals and tourists have continued to make it a regular part of their rotation.
Yardage fools a lot of players believing they need to play up or down a tee, and it happens all the time at SouthCreek, too.
The tips here are placed at 6,416 yards or essentially the average for some mid-range tees elsewhere. The problem, however, is that SouthCreek was never built for distance.
Yes, the driver is an option on nearly every par-4 and par-5 hole. However, it's what you do from there that will make the difference.
The course has several waste bunkers mixed in along the round, some of which are placed not-so conveniently around the greens.
SouthCreek also includes another caveat.
Regardless of a start on the front nine or back, players are guaranteed some of the hardest holes on the course within the first few swings. No. 1 -- a 382-yard par 4 with a dogleg left -- is rated as the fourth-hardest hole. Your reward for getting through that one is a par-5 471 yarder that brings a tight tree line, water and a tricky trio of bunkers into the equation. No. 2 is rated as the second-hardest hole.
Those starting on 10 don't have it much better. The longest hole at SouthCreek (525 yards) is also the hardest. Players are required to hit their first shot not only very straight but very long. Too little of either could take any potential of getting to the green in two or even three shots impossible.
"It was definitely a difficult hole, but the difficult holes were on the front of each (nine)," Williams said after starting his round on No. 10. "I'd rather have them backward. I'd rather have the hardest two at the end of the round then the beginning. A lot of courses do that. It makes the last three, four holes more difficult than the rest of the course. If you're playing well, you really need to work to get home and make a score."
The large clubhouse at Myrtle Beach National serves as a starting point for the SouthCreek, West and King's North Courses. The high-volume site accommodates players with a large pro shop, bar and grill, and seating area.
Each nine at SouthCreek includes two on-course restrooms, and a beverage cart is readily available.
The Myrtle Beach National brand offers a wide variety of individual and group-instruction plans. It can handle beginners to low-handicappers.
Myrtle Beach National's SouthCreek Course is often booked in conjunction with multi-course packages.
There's no reason to think this one doesn't stand out all on its own.
SouthCreek isn't going to be much of a challenge for the best golfers -- it's often promoted to seniors and women for its distances. However, it's hard to find a complaint with any real basis.
The staff has continued to modify the course here and there in small segments. It's kept the players numbers up, all the while making sure the golf here is as true as possible.
April 12, 2013