Our travel group played the Barefoot Norman course in North Myrtle Beach, SC on Wednesday, June 1, 2016. Barefoot Resort hosts three other courses named after their architects (Love, Fazio, and Dye) three of the courses play out of a single tremendous size clubhouse (Dye has its own). What strikes you as you arrive at the main clubhouse is the level of organization and sophistication to the golf operation. They have to be efficient with one central area servicing all three courses.
Make sure to get to the course an hour early if you like to warm up. Barefoot has a beautiful all grass driving range facility with complimentary balls and ample hitting space, but it’s about half a mile down the main road and is only accessed by shuttle once you’ve parked and unloaded. The bag attendants will call the shuttle when you’re ready to go hit but you do need about 15 minutes extra time for the transit. Our group either warmed up on the range or putted, but didn’t have time for both and we arrived 45 minutes ahead of our time. A special shout out goes to our shuttle driver who unloaded a golf bag for an elderly lady and took it out to the range to make sure she was set up with her clubs and balls at a hitting station.
On the course, Greg Norman’s layout is very playable for every handicap level. The playing surfaces are Bermuda on the tees and through the green but the putting surfaces are Bent, which I was very comfortable on. There are no tricked up holes or greens with buried elephants to frustrate you. Just a classy straight forward well designed golf course with excellent conditioning. The routing takes you through a mix of isolated holes in the natural landscape, gentle doglegs, with a few holes running through the community. At no time did we feel any of the condos were intruding on our play.
The beauty in this course is in the par-3s. #3 is long and narrow with water in front. #7 (shown below) is a shorter hole protected by a large waste bunker, and #10 (also below) is the signature hole that plays about 180 yards and runs downhill along the Inter-coastal Waterway. There’s always some party boat or jet ski navy cruising by to add entertainment value.
Value (3.25 out of 5.0)
We played on Wednesday when you get a $20 price break on your greens fees. Ours was built into our package, but this is not an inexpensive play. Barefoot is a high end resort and the Norman course is very nice, but we elected to forego the $60 replay charge and play in the afternoon for $45 back at The Legends Parkland course, where we were staying. I’ve played the Fazio and Dye courses here which are also good plays, but I’d place all three a notch below other top end courses like True Blue, Grand Dunes, and Tidewater.
Facilities (3.5 out of 5.0)
Big plus is the size and amenities available in the clubhouse and driving range. We dined after our round in the sit down restaurant and the food and service were excellent. Unfortunately the staging area can get really crowded when they are setting up play for three courses. For some inexplicable reason they located an outdoor bar right in the staging area where customers can drink or sit for a light meal. Initially I thought this was a cool idea but after seeing the foot and cart traffic trying to share the same space, had to reconsider. Barefoot also has a policy of trying to limit unnatural objects on the golf courses. That means no water coolers or trash cans. On this day, the weather was perfect but several years back, I had to quit from dehydration during a round on the Norman course. I would have loved to have had regular water stops available and that negative experience is etched in my psyche, so I brought extra water in my golf bag that I didn’t need. Still, the marshals brought coolers with water and beverage cart hit us up several times. There is one rest stop servicing the 10th and 13th tee with a bathroom and water fountain.
Customer Experience (3.75 out of 5.0)
The shuttle driver and bag drop guys were top notch, as was the lady running the beverage cart. Marshals were friendly and ready to assist. But the golf carts are equipped with GPS units that bombard you with adds. On every hole, you need to touch the screen to clear the adds and get back to the golf course map. Everyone in our group found this as an irritant. The rating here would have gone higher with time to practice my putting after hitting the range, but the shuttle time compressed everything. Once we hit the course we were in for an excellent relaxing experience.
Overall Rating (3.5 out of 5.0)
Norman was a solid well maintained golf course and very fun to play. We played the black tees (one set up) at 6,374 yards and I carded an 8-over par 79.