MURRELLS INLET, S.C. - The Wachesaw East Golf Club is one of those Myrtle Beach golf courses that falls a little under the radar of the Grand Strand's spectacular marketing campaigns.
You don't come to Myrtle Beach and say, "oh man, I've GOT to play Wachesaw East."
But, it's a course you should consider playing. It has a graceful design by Clyde Johnston and green fees - ranging from $60-$138 - that are below those more well known courses.
Nothing about the course is head-turning dramatic. Its charms are more of the subtle variety. It isn't overly long, for one thing, at 6,933 yards from the back tees, and the greens don't sport the scary slope or undulation some of the area's more difficult courses boast.
In fact, the TifEagle greens look relatively tame and flat at first glance. But, when those glances turn into actual putts, you find they're neither.
"The greens aren't too difficult to hit, but there are some very subtle breaks," said Assistant Professional Kevin Frick. "For a golfer, it really makes you focus more. You've got to play here a couple of times to understand it."
True enough, putts you think you hit on line will end up six feet from the hole, and leave you shaking your head. You have to hit them firm here. There are some exceptions, like the green at the short, par-4 sixth, that do have more than gentle slope.
The course markets itself as having "Scottish" influences in the form of rolling fairways, traditional mounding and strategically-placed bunkers, but if this is Scotland, I'm Old Tom Morris.
There is gentle mounding, mostly along the perimeter of the fairways and backing up greens, but the fairways could only be called rolling in this flat part of the lowcountry. There are some very nice grass swales around the greens that can make you utter Scottish curses.
Still, the bunkering is very effective, and often provides some visual trickery off the tee and on approach shots.
"I would tell people, first of all, to make sure you get a yardage book," Frick said. "Everything on the course is right there in front of you, but you really need to know the yardages, in terms of the bunkers."
The course has hosted four LPGA tournaments in the past, and some of that circuit's most illustrious names have played here. Meg Mallon holds the course record with a 62.
It's a parkland course built on the site of a former rice plantation, as so many Myrtle Beach courses are, and almost every fairway is tree-lined, giving character to most holes.
It's a picturesque course, with freshwater lakes and ponds and scenic wetlands, though its natural assets are contradicted somewhat by rather generic-looking villas.
Service is very good: Golf Digest once chose it as one of the top 50 golf courses in the country for customer service. It was also selected as the 2007 Myrtle Beach Golf Course of the Year.
Wachesaw East is part of a resort, Ellington, that has one, two and three bedroom villas available. Owners get to play at a drastically reduced rate, including up to 14 free rounds a year, as well as receiving discounts at other area courses.
The Island Vista is where you want to be if you love the sound of waves crashing on the beach right outside your room. The property has been in Myrtle Beach since the 1980s under various names, its newest incarnation opening last year.
It's right smack dab on the beach, in a quiet, affluent neighborhood - no loud honking on Highway 17 to interrupt your beauty sleep.
"We're very fortunate to have such a location," said Island Vista Controller Julia Singleton. "It's a residential neighborhood, and even in the summer, the beach is never really crowded."
All of the more than 500 units are individually owned and most are available for rental. The Island Vista has one, two, three and four bedroom suites, perfect for families or golf groups.
All of the units have their own private balconies with ocean views. There is daily maid service, something that can't always be counted on with condos of this sort. The larger units have granite countertops, full kitchens and hot tubs. Each bedroom has private a bathroom and TV. The units also have high-speed Internet access.
The property caters to golfers with an on-site golf director, and has a meeting room that can hold up to 160 people, decorated with antique flourishes.
There is an excellent restaurant, the Cypress Room, which serves breakfast and dinner. Lunch options are available on the patio and pool bar during summer months.
The Island Vista has a large, indoor/outdoor pool, including a "lazy river," and over 500 feet of beach. There are children's activities and a small fitness room.
January 23, 2008