Long Bay Club in Myrtle Beach is a Handful
The second course I played during my recent family vacation was Long Bay Club, designed by Jack Nicklaus, located on Hwy 9 about ten minutes drive west out of North Myrtle Beach. A neat little trick by the Golden Bear was to route the drive from the main entrance to the clubhouse right past the most fearsome hole on the course, just to put it into the back of your mind, but more on that later. There is a handsome, two story, all-brick clubhouse with all of the amenities you would expect. Pulling into the bag drop area you’ll notice a life sized statue of His Goldness right in front of the clubhouse, holding a full-swing finish. Nice for his fans but definitely a bit much for the minority who aren’t.
It was my pleasure to have the lovely Mrs. Shanks with me on this day and we took advantage of the all-grass driving range. What a pleasure not to hit off of mats – grass is the only way to go. We didn’t have quite enough time to make use of the nice practice chipping area at the end of the range. We played as a twosome behind many foursomes and had to wait on most shots, but they were actually keeping a decent pace of play despite the difficulty of the course.
There are four sets of tees measuring between 5,600 to 7,000 yards, so distance alone is not what produces the challenge. Rather it is derived from the smallish green complexes which, of course are extremely well-bunkered. Even when the greens have a little size, they are shaped and/or sectioned in such a way as to place a premium on approach shots into them.
I found the course to be in very good condition, despite the lack of rain in the area so far this year. The rough was modest (thank God) and the greens were smooth, fast and true. I believe they are covered with some sort of small-blade bermuda grass hybrid. Whatever it is, I loved them. The course also has those wonderful Ping measurement plates on both sides of the fairways which provide front, middle and back of the green distances. Many of the holes are laid out with those drive-through bunkers which are a very nice way to keep cart paths to a minimum. Playing out of them on full shots is great but it’s a little trickier near the greens as they are packed down extremely well. And despite being routed through a housing development, you rarely notice that you are.
Holes of note: the gentle dogleg left par five seventh hole where the second shot into the green is challenged not only by a long carry over water, but a minefield of bunkering around the green (higher handicappers should lay up to the right); the signature par four tenth hole where the entire elevated fairway is encased in wrap-around drive-through bunker (the only place you don’t want to be is on the slope down into that bunker); the thirteenth is an island green par three that I mentioned earlier, where the angle of the tee shot becomes more difficult as the length increases; and finally the par four eighteenth which is a shorter version of the seventh hole, just bending in the opposite direction – a very good closer. [As a side note, the lovely Mrs. Shanks and I played the scary thirteenth hole in a total of 5 shots. History was averted as one of our birdie putts snapped off a fraction before dropping in the hole. Would have been the first time we ever birdied the same hole together, dammit.]
Seems that whenever I hear from friends who have been to Myrtle Beach on a golf trip, they seldom say they played here. I don’t know why because it presents your game with all the examination it could want. Serious golfers should challenge themselves at Long Bay Club.
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