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Crescent Pointe Golf Club in Bluffton, South Carolina: An Arnold Palmer gauntlet

By Lisa Allen, Contributor

BLUFFTON, S.C. - Simply put, Crescent Pointe Golf Club is a tough course. Only 6,770 yards from the Arnold Palmer tips, and it adds an extra par 3 on the front for a 71 total, but there isn't anything it doesn't dish out. Bring your game or stay in the bar.

Crescent Pointe Golf Club - hole 9
The ninth hole from the back tees at Crescent Pointe Golf Club. The beauty is distracting.
Crescent Pointe Golf Club - hole 9Crescent Pointe golf course - hole 18Crescent Pointe G.C. in Bluffton - hole 13

The first tee at Crescent Pointe gives you a lot of room for your shot, then a 37-yard-deep green tells your brain it's all but an island green, but it's not. The pond that butts up against it is immediately left and center, but if your tee shot drifts left, it's an island green as far as you're concerned.

There you go - that's the kind of challenge you're in for. The next hole is a striking par 3, also appearing to float amid a pond, but this one is the length of the hole on the right side. There's plenty of room on the left, but good luck trying to convince yourself of that. It's a generous, 41-yard green, although it sure seems far away at 164 yards from the whites and 139 from the forward tees. Got a long drive? Good, you'll need it. The tips play at 211.

Crescent Pointe Golf Club isn't going to let up on the third or fourth holes, either. The third still has that blasted water along the right, and a thick marshy creek across the mid-fairway to muddle up your second shot. The fourth hole is a doozy - a waste bunker hop-scotching with water along the right. It has an elevated tee and green with only one bunker left. It's a terrific little hole and has a lot of personality if played from the right side. Give it a try.

It's that variety of character on each hole that brings back members like Barbara Scott, a high handicap player. "It plays differently every time," she said.

"I'm really proud of the course, said Bill Layman, director of golf at Crescent Pointe Golf Club. "We have a lot of elevation changes, some are up, some are down. I give Arnold Palmer a lot of credit for that, because the Lowcountry is so flat."

Water is a common nemesis on the course. Take a spin through the yardage book and look at all that pretty blue, especially on the front. The sixth hole, a par 5, does have an island green, and the seventh is fraught with water, too.

Crescent Pointe Golf Club's signature hole, No. 9, is a beautiful par 3 in the middle of the marsh. It's a long hole that plays even longer, varying in length from 219 yards to 144. Look around, enjoy the view, then knuckle down for your tee shot.

The back nine is a little drier and relies more on bunkers and marshes. Yes, that's still water, but at least there are some plants around as well. Speaking of plants, pappus grass will play havoc with you on several holes here.

The 10th and 15th holes could be considered rest spots on the back. Both offer wide fairways and some trouble, but they aren't as visually intimidating as some of the other holes. Then comes the 16th, a par 3, with a lot of trouble on the right - water and sand - although it does give your some bail-out area left. I imagine, though, that the pin is usually on the right side.

Crescent Pointe's home stretch

The 17th hole offers almost Zen-like tranquility, with breathtaking views of the Colleton River from the green. There, one can forget all of the frustration of previously missed shots. Mounds near the green can be used to your benefit or peril.

"Short of Hilton Head Island, it's the prettiest and most visually appealing course I've ever played," said Paul Scott, a member with an 18 handicap. "It's challenging, it has ponds, sand, marsh. It's a good Lowcountry golf course."

His favorite hole? The 13th, a sweeping par-4 dogleg right that begs for its corner to be cut, water and bunkers be damned. "I love driving that hole," Scott said.

At last you come to the 18th hole, a dandy dogleg right that is dotted with bunkers and protected from above with a few overhanging branches. Look up as you plan your strategy. The green awaits below, a Pete-Dye-esque deep, plank-sided hazard right, with stairs leading down to it. If a hazard requires stairs, it's often not a pleasant place to be.

Crescent Pointe Golf Club: The verdict

Without question, Arnold Palmer has created a challenging terrain that requires skillful course management, well-placed shots and powerful drives. A round at Crescent Pointe Golf Club will use all of your golf skills, and probably a sleeve of balls. But when you're finished, you'll have a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

Lisa AllenLisa Allen, Contributor

Lisa Allen is a golf, travel and business writer based in Beaufort, S.C. She has edited newspapers, magazines and books in Michigan, Indiana and South Carolina. Follow her on Twitter @LAllenSC.

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