MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - A stand-out par 3 can make a golf course - and ruin your scorecard.
The golf courses in Myrtle Beach are home to plenty of island greens and other memorable - and penal - par 3 holes. Just about every course has at least one standout. Here are some of the finest that stand to make your knees shiver a bit:
Grande Dunes Resort Course, No. 14: Grande Dunes features several holes playing along the waterway, but this is the most stunning of them all. Though pretty, it's long, bold and plenty intimidating. Steep bunkers and hazards short and below the green will ensure you take plenty of club.
Heritage Club, No. 13: Among the longest par-3 carries over water in Myrtle Beach depending on the tees you're playing from, No. 13 at this Lowcounty gem along the Waccamaw River begins a brutal stretch of holes, making up one of Myrtle Beach's toughest back sides.
King's North at Myrtle Beach National Golf Club, No. 12: Each of King's North's par 3s play over water, and No. 12's green is surrounded by it. Just a pitch at between 115-150 yards, but this island green is plenty tough to hit and features the "S" and "C" bunkers to further complicate things. The green is misleadingly deep, so mind your club selection.
The Dunes Golf and Beach Club, No. 12: Before you walk off the 11th hole of the Dunes Club, be sure to seek out No. 12's championship tee box: over 230 yards all over marsh to a smallish target, a box used during the Senior PGA Tour Championship when held here.
Soak it in, and then your own box might not look as difficult, though you'll still be forced with all carry to the green.
True Blue Plantation, No. 3: Each of True Blue's par 3s will give you sweaty palms thanks to Mike Strantz's imaginative shaping, with No. 3 perhaps being the most likely to intimidate. Bunkers slope straight into the water, and on a sunny day, don't be surprised if you see a resident gator sunning in the front one - all the more reason to take one more club.
Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club, No. 13: There are a lot of island greens in Myrtle Beach that are very large. This isn't one of them. This unlucky 13 is the climax of a stunning, marshy back nine at this Jack Nicklaus-designed course. This sliver of green juts out into marsh, with just a sliver of turf wide enough to walk on from the cart path.
When the tide is out, you'll see the sheer carnage of golf balls that have fallen victim here - likely a couple of your own, too.
Glen Dornoch, No. 17: Considered one of the area's toughest closing stretches, the 17th green features marsh front, left and long, but that's not all. Players must also hit over a tree from the tee. Those sheepish enough to bail out on the right side will find themselves atop a bunker-laden mound, making a chip back to the green even tougher than the tee shot.
The Dye Course at Barefoot Resort, No. 17: Like most Pete Dye-designed golf courses, the Barefoot is no easy finish. Before a brutally long par-4 finisher, golfers must hit a pure mid or long iron into a diagonally placed green, making yardage and line all that more important. Waste and hazard surrounds the green. If the pin is in the back right, good luck.
You don't have to pay three figures to find a good par 3 in Myrtle Beach. Here are some bargain courses with their own stiff tests:
The Wizard Golf Course, No. 17: After about 15 holes of links-style golf, The Wizard finishes off in the middle of a 100-acre manmade lake, which the 17th green sticks right out of. The tee sticks up even higher, giving you some good elevation and visibility, but the wind out here can sometimes make that a detriment.
Palmetto Course at Myrtlewood Golf Club, No. 17: The Pinehills Course at Myrtlewood is probably an all-around better test of golf, but they don't have the two waterway holes of the original Palmetto course. No. 17 plays with the waterway to your left and a canal funneling into it in front. The green is narrow and elevated, guarded by an enormous bunker in front. Though just about 140-150 yards, hitting this green (especially with pin tucked left) is no cakewalk.
Arrowhead Country Club (The Waterway), No. 3: A stern, 175-yard shot entirely over water to a green guarded all around by bunkers. A front pin location up against the water will certainly test your mettle.
Crow Creek Golf Club, No. 8: Architects at Crow Creek in Brunswick County flooded the land around the eighth hole to create a unique looking par 3, with many bare trees sticking out, including a cypress tree that guards the left side of the green, which can cause havoc for slicers. It's a favorite perch for bird life, so don't expect total silence on your backswing.
West Course, Myrtle Beach National Golf Club, No. 18: A rare par-3 finishing hole, and it's a doozy from the championship tees, playing 220 yards entirely over water. Swing too hard and you stand to find yourself left into the drink, too.
June 23, 2008