MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Legends is one of those Myrtle Beach golf course complexes that give off an almost cookie cutter, strip mall feel. Its sign stands so tall, so unmissable on Highway 501 — the main artery into Myrtle Beach - that it seems more fit for a Wal-Mart or Home Depot.
It has coupons almost every day in the local paper.
This makes it all too easy to dismiss as Myrtle Beach lowbrow.
This golfer only ended upon at Legends because a cute sales clerk at the local Dillard's gushed about it. "It's like a fairytale back there," Tiffany said in a perfectly charming Southern lilt.
And yes, it no doubt helped that she had that voice and figure. Hey, you never know what form good golf advice will come in.
Tiffany turned out to be right. Maybe not about the actual fairytale part, but surely on Legends being a worthwhile golf stop with some magic in these hills.
It's found in the Moorland Course, in a P.B. Dye design that's as inventive as Harry Potter. You might come to Legends for the gigantic clubhouse that I guess could be mistaken for a 19th century English manor by the overly
romantic. You might come because it's so easy to find.
You'll enjoy it — and likely comeback — because of Dye. Sorry Tiff. He's the star of this show.
Pete Dye's son displays his dad's ingenuity while toning down that old Dye golfer cruelty at Moorland.
There are just a bunch of fun golf holes out here. Dye's take is anything but easy (134 slope rating). Yet, a golfer's much more liable to leave here grinning than cursing.
You surely won't be bored. There's no chance to drop into golf by rote.
"Moorland makes you think," vacationing golfer Tad Duney said. "I like that."
P.B. Dye literally overcomes all at Moorland. Including some shaky course conditions. On this winter play, the fairways stood patchy, with a lot of yellow grass and sometimes very few traces of anything but thin green. Legends' Moorland was in the worst shape of a half dozen high-end Myrtle Beach golf courses visited.
This bothers the first few holes. But as you get farther into P.B.'s design it becomes more and more of an afterthought. There's just too much else, too many cool shots, to draw your attention.
By the time, you're shooting across a depressed waste area from an elevated tee on No. 4, the yellow grass barely registers. It's all about getting up over the hill to the raised fairway, avoiding a bunker dubbed Big Bertha because it tends to nab the most bold. There's another set of big hills to shoot over onto a hidden, but huge, huge flat green with trees all around it.
Once you get to the green, having survived, it feels like you're in a forest amphitheater. Maybe not Snow White. But a little Miss Red Riding Hood sure.
Moorland is not just set back in the Carolina woods. Houses are nonexistent. There's virtually no traffic noise, a near unheard of experience in Myrtle Beach golf. Dye makes the most of this throughout the round, using the tall pines to frame his rolling, wide open fairways.
This is Dye golf. You'll have some uneven and even downright unusual lies. It's trying to blast out of a bunker on the side of a steep hill, trying to roll your approach shot over a crest and make it stop. Moorland is anything but golf played in straight, simple lines. Its messy, interesting, eye-opening.
Take No. 12. This 459-yard par 4 has you shooting down from a elevated tee to a rolling fairway with a major dip in it. Then, it's back up to a green on tall, steep ridge. At least, they call it a green. This green is about as large as Antarctica. You could play a regulation football game on it.
Back to the golf in a minute. First, let's see who wins the Turkey Bowl!
Of course as you're standing up on the 12th green that's so high and so wide, you look around and only see trees. More and more trees. Many of which you're looking down on. It's quite a scene — and still the most fun part came in getting there.
That's the mark of a good design and you find it happening again and again on Legends' Moorland. Dye tempts, lures, almost demands that golfers, even the most average hacker, take the kind of chances that produce memorable rounds.
There is a par 4 that's only 245 yards from the green middle tees that most golfers play from. A 245-yard par 4. If you're not trying to drive this green, you must already have one foot in the coffin. Dye knows this. He understands how pumped up this super short par 4 is going to get even everyday hackers.
That's why he put Hell's Half Acre — a very deep, very penalizing bunker area — right in front of the green. Isn't all glory made better by the prospect of pain?
Just swing with all your might and smile. Make the green or land in Hell, you'll end up with one doozey of a story either way.
Legends' Moorland is a golf course where the fun outweighs the flaws. And there are flaws. This isn't a must-play, near top 10 Myrtle Beach course.
It is a great way to spend an afternoon though. You won't forget that Moorland round as soon as you finish up the last beer on the 19th hole.
P.B. Dye gets in his jabs sure, but he's also forgiving to ordinary golfers in several spots. If you sail the green on the par 5 second — easy to do with water intimidating along the entire right side and big bunkers in front — chances are your ball will be snagged by the low-lying bunker below the green with railroad ties.
Yes, those old Dye railroad ties save splashdowns.
Another low-lying wraparound bunker prevents many shots from landing in the marsh on the par-4 14th.
Of course there are also devilish little touches like the not-so-tiny pot bunker on No. 3 that has another even bigger bunker right in front of it — where your heroic sand save is most likely to end up.
It's all in fun though. Right?
The sister Heathland Course is a Tom Doak, while the Parkland Course in this three-course complex is "modeled after the style" of Alister MacKenzie. Parkland is the only course with a heavy housing presence.
Greg Norman Grill (843-361-0000) is right off Kings Highway in the Barefoot Landing shopping complex and it's worth a stop. When a famous athlete gets into food, you expect the worst — especially in a high-priced chain restaurant — but Greg Norman's delivers surprisingly tasty selections.
The salmon salad is particularly good. It's more reasonable at lunch and the views on the patio over the water are better then too.
Myrtle Beach has tons of hotels, but not a lot of the upscale ones most seasoned travelers expect. If you lean that way, the Marriott Grand Dunes is clearly the best, but the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center is in the same general league (minus the ocean access) and often much cheaper.
May 18, 2007