My travel group played Shaftesbury Glen in Conway, SC on Friday, June 12, 2015. This was the third of four courses in our Glens summer golf package which was a tremendous value. Shaftesbury is unique in the Glens group because it’s the only course with A-1 Bent grass greens. The rest are Bermuda, and golfers from the north and Mid-Atlantic areas who are used to playing on Bent will find Shaftesbury’s surfaces a welcome respite from the grainy tough to read Bermuda that is prevalent in the Myrtle Beach area. The issue with Bent in this climate is maintainability during hot weather. It was hot when we played and we found the greens smooth, a bit slow, very firm, and difficult to hold approach shots. I loved the surfaces after playing all week on Bermuda and adapted quickly in my morning round, taking only 28 putts.
Shaftesbury is a straight forward course with no surprises. Located several miles inland, you don’t get the benefit of the persistent on-shore breeze that the courses closer to the coast are accustomed to, and as a result, the course doesn’t dissipate moisture well and can get and stay wet in the summer humidity.
Architected by Clyde Johnson, you’ll find the sight-lines off the tee very pleasing to your eye which should allow you to drive the ball well. There’s ample room to miss on most tee shots and the bunkering is beautifully done and precisely frames many of the holes. The layout is very flat but many of the greens are raised about six to 10 feet above the fairway and are protected by deep bunkers with good quality hard coarse sand. You need to add about 1/2 club on the approaches to handle these benign elevation changes.
Value (4.5 out of 5.0)
Our round was part of The Glens package, which included golf, carts, lodging, free range balls, lunch, and complimentary replays on the four Glens courses (we added rounds at Tidewater and Pawleys) for a total price of $550. You simply cannot beat this value for your golfing dollar. I didn’t think to ask about the regular replay rate, but there is a nominal fee for range balls (I believe $3.00) for non-package players. Again, with the all-inclusive rate, we had nothing to focus on except playing our best golf and enjoying ourselves.
Facilities (3.0 out of 5.0)
Conditioning of the course, all-grass driving range, and practice putting green was very good. There were ample supplies of good cool drinking water at regular intervals around the course, which was important because of the unyielding heat.
What’s odd about Shaftesbury is the staging area configuration. The bag drop is right next to the clubhouse but the driving range and putting green are at the other end of the parking lot and while there are plenty of cart parking spots next to the range, they do not let you ride to the range. So you’re left with the option of hauling your bag the length of the parking lot and hauling it back to put it on a cart before play. This was the case several years ago when I first played the course and oddly remains the practice. I suppose they feel they may lose a measure of control if they let golfers ride to the range, but I would advise they open up and try it.
Another commonality with the course and the three other Glen courses is the lack of sand mix on the golf carts. Most courses with Bermuda fairways provide a bottle of sand mix to fill in fairway divots, but there was none. Not sure if the greens crew repaired divots around the course every evening, but taking a chunk of the course out with your irons and not repairing felt awkward. This should be the responsibility of the golfers and the mix should be provided.
Customer Experience (4.0 out of 5.0)
Service from the clubhouse staff was excellent, especially the very nice lady staffing the grill. She went out of her way on the little things like refilling our water bottles from the soda fountain, providing free refills on soft drinks, to busing our tables. We noticed and a shout out goes to her.
There were five of us who wanted to replay in the afternoon. Certainly an awkward number, so we asked the starter if we could play as a fivesome. He said we needed to tee off as a threesome and a twosome and if nobody pressed us after we were out on the course, to join up. We played the last 15 holes in the afternoon round as a fivesome and had a delightful time.
On this day, I shot a 76 from the white tees which measured 6,445 yards and played to a par of 72 with a course rating of 71.5/135. Shaftesbury Glen is a fun play and will be on my course rotation for future trips to Myrtle Beach.
Overall Rating (3.75 out of 5.0)