On Thursday, June 1st, 2017, our travel group teed it up at the Willbrook Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC. The plantation was established in 1798 and a visit here provides a mix of lovely old southern charm with a humbling history lesson. The place is beautiful with large live oaks framing the clubhouse, course, and surrounding residential areas, but you also can find historical markers noting the location of slave quarters and burial grounds that remind you of our 18th and 19th century culture and lifestyle. Everything is done tastefully and the atmosphere is welcoming to all.
Our group has played Willbrook on several previous trips and unfortunately most of those visits were spent in the clubhouse watching doppler radar and sitting on the porch in stately rocking chairs waiting out torrential rain storms. No problem with the weather on this day as we enjoyed broken clouds and temperatures in the 80s, but we had our full rain gear packed.
Facilities (3.5 out of 5.0)
You’ll notice as you first enter the facility that everything is on the small size, from the parking lot, to the clubhouse, to the grill area, to the driving range. The range was all grass and was in wonderful shape but only had about seven hitting stations. Balls were $4.00 per bag and were sold in the pro shop. There were two medium sized putting greens; one between the range and clubhouse and the other conveniently located between the clubhouse and first tee. Traffic flowed nicely around the staging area.
Willbrook has Bermuda grass through the green and on this day, the putting surfaces were rolling true and at medium speed but had a light layer of sand applied. The course conditioning was very good with all the tee boxes, fringes, and bunkers neatly manicured. I only remembered a few of the holes, probably because the last time through, we were so focused on keeping ourselves and our equipment dry, the course play-ability and routing were not at the forefront of our minds.
At 6,292 yards from the white tees (70.3 / 129), the course is not an overly stern test. It has a mixture of short to medium length par-4s with all the par-5s playing over 500 yards. If you are driving it straight you can score. As it was, they had many of the pins cut on small crowns and slopes, and while I hit 11 greens, I couldn’t make any putts, but managed to avoid any three-putts, and carded a solid 4-over 76. I recall a much tougher time playing in the rain from the blue tees at 6,722 yards.
A few playing notes:
- #1 tee shot is tight (pictured below). You have a big tree on the right to contend with and water on the left. Drive it straight 🙂
- #10 is a par-4 that only plays 356 yards but a large oak tree guards the right side of the green. Shots right center in the fairway may be blocked from coming in high, even with a short iron. There’s plenty of room left even though it doesn’t look like it on the tee. Take it.
- #18 is a hard dogleg right par-5 and is super tight. There’s a bunker at the end of the fairway 250 yards from the tee. Long hitters should lay up. There’s a big tree on the right guarding the dogleg so you have to get it far enough out there to avoid. Up by the green, there are more large oaks that block the left side of the approach. If you can get it to 100 yards, you can get over them with a wedge, otherwise, you are blocked. Try to keep it right. I felt this hole was a smidgen unfair, as did others in my group.
Value (4.0 out of 5.0)
Willbrook was $71 on our Founders package. The replay rate was $40, which is a good value, and the beauty of the package is that it included a $100 gift card to use at all 21 of the Founders courses. We also learned that the replay rate at Willbrook could be applied at a higher end course, which is exactly what we did. We booked a replay at Willbrook and decided not to use it but called Myrtle Beach National – Kings North, and they let us play the afternoon for the Willbrook price, which was $22 less than the Kings North price. As long as you played your first round on a Founders group course, you can leverage this benefit and I would take advantage of that again.
Customer Experience (3.75 out of 5.0)
The bag drop guys provided snappy service as soon as we pulled in. The pro only had a single replay time when we inquired so we grabbed it. The tee sheet evidently fills up quite fast at this course and I was glad we had the opportunity to replay, but there’s a chance we could have got shut out. We also figured with one replay time, the course would be full and slow. When we replay, we usually enjoy a quicker pace because most courses in the area are empty. It pays to look for courses with more than 18 holes when you consider replaying. Our decision to play at Kings North was a good one, as they have 54 holes and we flew around in under four hours.
On the course, the marshals kept play moving and were friendly and helpful. The pace was good as we were in threesomes and were never pushed and did not have to wait on any shots.
The grill area is small and has a limited selection of food items. After the morning round, I settled for a chili dog, chips and soda that cost me $6.00.
Overall Rating (3.75 out of 5.0)
I enjoy playing this course and will come back to Willbrook on future trips. If you want a medium end course that’s not too difficult or expensive, add it to your playlist.