Tag Archives: Barefoot Resort

2020 Myrtle Beach Cup

Myrtle Beach at dawn

Overview:

In the 20+ years that I have been traveling to the Grand Strand for golf, it’s always been in the summer.  This year, I was invited to play in a February family and friends 5-day match play tournament staged across the four Barefoot courses and Grand Dunes.  We had a fabulous outting.  If you have not tried Myrtle Beach as a winter golf destination, it’s about time.

Many in the group of 20 players scheduled their travel to arrive and depart on the first and last days of the competition.  I elected to pad a travel day on both ends which worked out well.  Going into the event, I had been playing or practicing every weekend and that turned out to be a huge boon for my game.  I played well the entire week and generally felt in mid-season form.  The on-site day of practice beforehand was very helpful for getting accommodated to the playing conditions and green speeds.

Our accommodations were condos located in the Yacht Club and North Tower on the Barefoot property.  These were huge and well-appointed three- and four-bedroom units that housed us very comfortably.  I would definitely recommend them for a trip in the North Myrtle Beach area.  On a previous trip, we stayed in 3-bedroom condos on the Norman course which were nice but much smaller.

Spacious living area in our Yacht Club condo.

View of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Pool area at the North Tower

Tournament format:

We were grouped as A, B, C, and D players by handicap and a blind draw assigned us into two 10-man teams for a Ryder Cup style competition.  I was told that on paper, our team looked very strong.  Not having played any golf with any of these fellows, I made up my mind to just go play and not try to over-analyze anything.  On days 1 through 4 we would play four ball matches (you and your partner’s better ball against your opponent’s ball) at 80% of handicap.  On the fifth day, we’d play 10 singles matches – again at 80% handicap.  Every match had one available point, with a total of 30 points available, 15 ½ were required to win the Cup.  The team captains met each morning to make pairings and select who would play whom.  An excellent requirement was added to promote player interaction.  You could not be paired with the same teammate more than once.  I greatly appreciated the opportunity to play with a new teammate every day because I only knew four of the other 19 players going into the week.  After playing with different teammates and opponents and dining with everyone on a nightly basis, I’m thankful to have met so many great guys.

Match Summaries:

Day One:  Barefoot Love Course.

Weather was cloudy in the mid-50s.  This was the first time I had played the Love course and I enjoyed the layout.  Course was in great condition and the over-seeded greens were rolling medium speed and smooth.  There was a little hidden water off some of the tee shots but the holes were nicely framed and fit my eye.  I played with Ken and our opponents were Bruce and Tim.  I drove it really well and struck some good irons close.  Lost my concentration a bit around the greens on the back nine but Ken and I had pretty good control of the match and won 3 and 1.

The boys on the practice putting green before the matches at Love.

Day Two:  Barefoot Norman Course.

Weather again cloudy in the mid-50s.  Norman is the Barefoot course I’ve logged the most rounds on, but I struggled on the greens.  Joe and I played Nick and Ed and we were behind all the way around.  Down 2 with 4 to play, our opponents let us back into the match with some loose driving and Joe made a 4-footer for par to win the match on 18.  About 2/3 of the guys went out for a nine-hole replay but not me.  My new strategy was to conserve energy.

Day Three:  Grand Dunes.

One of my favorite courses, Grand Dunes did not disappoint.  Temps were in the low 60s and the course was in fabulous condition.  I was super excited because I was stripping it on the driving range which is always a good leading indicator for my game.  Greens were running faster than the previous two days at Barefoot and the day’s match was Glenn and I vs. Marc and Ed.  I had my best ball striking day and carried my partner on the front nine.  Glenn ordered a fast-action Bloody Mary from the cart girl on the 6th  or 7th hole and his game suddenly caught fire.  I relaxed afterwards and we coasted in this one 7 and 5.  The last four or five holes were played in the rain which was a harbinger of things to come.

Day Four:  Barefoot Dye.

It had rained heavily overnight and there was still precipitation in the area.  Dye was playing cart path only and giant puddles and ruts were the order of the day in the cart paths.  The paths at Dye are all sand/waste areas which made for a sloppy round.  It basically rained medium hard all day.  The driving range was closed beforehand and swings were obviously affected.  In this match, Ron and I played Nick and Tim.  Nobody hit it that well.  However, my chipping and putting were getting it done and we prevailed 5 and 4.  I found Dye the most difficult driving course because there are few good sight lines.  You stand on the tees and confront a world of bunkers.  Where to hit it?  At the end of the day, our team was up 15 to 5 and needed only a half point to secure the Cup making the outcome all but decided.  I guess all the pre-tournament prognostications were correct.

Day Five:  Barefoot Fazio.

Temps were in the low 40s, rain was falling, and winds were building from the west.  We were on the leading edge of a winter storm that dumped four inches of snow just north of us in Virginia and North Carolina.  I was paired against Dan in singles and was playing with my teammate Ted who was matched up with Steve.  Surprisingly, the greens were rolling fast and pure despite the weather.  Dan and I got off to a rough start and halved the first hole with 7s.  He took a 1-up lead on the second but I came back to take a string of holes and was three up at the turn.  Ted was leading Steve 7-up and it was raining and blowing sideways.  We called it quits.  A couple of the boys did complete their games and a few reported that they had played well.  I didn’t get the final points total, but it was clear that our side had prevailed.  While we didn’t play the back nine, we had to drive in along it and I was impressed by some of the routing and conditioning.  It would be great to come back and play Fazio in good weather.

Playing notes:

  1. When in a match play format, don’t get distracted by your individual score. Several players asked me what I shot for the day and I told them that I didn’t know.  It was true.  If I was out of a hole, I’d put my ball in my pocket and let my partner play for our side.  I think it’s beneficial to NOT play out a ball on a hole you messed up because making a bigger mess can form negative mental pictures in your head.  When you have a bad hole pick up and forget about it.  Your gross score doesn’t matter – it’s not the game you are playing.  I get that many of the guys just want to play for practice or measure themselves, and that’s fine, but not my preference.
  2. Play to your strength in match play and don’t alter your game based on the way your opponent(s) play. My strengths are accuracy off the tee and attacking with wedges.  My weaknesses are playing from fairway bunkers, and there were a lot at these venues.  I often hit a long iron or 3wd off the tee for position.  If you have strengths like mine, you’ll find that ego-based players may become frustrated playing you.  While they like to bomb tee shots, your accurate tee shots and their wayward driving often puts significant pressure on their game.
  3. Around the greens, work the ground game. Courses at Myrtle Beach do not have significant greenside rough and don’t require high lofted pitch shots.  Don’t get too enamored with your lofted wedges and try chipping and pitching with more straight-faced clubs.  Putt when you can and keep the shots low whenever possible because roll is easier to judge distance on than flight.

Summary:

This trip was about camaraderie.   We played with lots of different players which was great.  We were also able to make dinner reservations every night for our party of 20 at a different restaurant.  You could never pull this off on a summer trip to Myrtle Beach; it’s just too crowded.

The course conditioning was excellent everywhere.  Of course, the dominant playing surfaces (Bermuda) were dormant, but they were very playable and framed the over seeded fairways nicely on all the courses.

The value was tremendous.  We paid about $550 for five days of golf and four nights in excellent accommodations.

I’ve been invited to the 2021 version of this tournament and am eagerly looking forward to it.  That’s it for now.

Play well!

New lids for the winning side

 

 

 

 

 

2020 Golf Season – Early Start!

On the green at #14 at Barefoot – Norman

Here we are, two weeks from Christmas and the bad news is that I haven’t played since the last week of October.  My season-ending November golf/beach trip never happened because of bad weather and I have that weird feeling like when you read nine chapters in a 10-chapter book and never pick it up to finish.  I keep looking for a good weekend day to properly close 2019, but either work, football, or the honey-do list get in the way.

The good news is that my 2020 season start is just around the corner.  I’ll kickoff in mid-February with a trip to Myrtle Beach.  At a recent family gathering, I was invited to participate in a 20-man event for five days of Ryder Cup style competition.  We’ll be divided into two 10-man teams and have four rounds scheduled at all the Barefoot courses along with a round at Grand Dunes.  This is going to be awesome!  But how do I prepare?  I booked a flight in a day earlier and will try to practice/play a round, but that’s just to bang off some rust.  Would definitely want some more regular activity during the winter, and was thinking about my friend Jim at The Grateful Golfer.  He’s constructing an indoor hitting station.  What I wouldn’t give to have a setup like that for the cold months!  Jim, can I come over and swat a few?

Some of the guys playing this event come from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but others are from the Carolinas and California, so they’ll be a mix of rust and good preparation leading up to tournament time.  I haven’t practiced heavily in the off season for years.  The older I get, the less accepting I am of cold weather, but there’s a heated/covered range within a 20-minute drive and I might have to make use as a stop gap.  I’d hate to show up in February not having swung a club for a couple months.

Any suggestions for off-season ball striking practice?

Play well!

Barefoot Norman – Course Review

Summary

Clubhouse at Barefoot Resort
Clubhouse at Barefoot Resort

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.

The range shuttle at Barefoot.
The range shuttle at Barefoot.

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.

Ronnie tees off on the par-4 fourth hole.
Ronnie tees off on the par-4 fourth hole.

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.

Par-3, 7th hole
Par-3, 7th hole

The author on the par-3 10th hole
The author on the par-3 10th hole

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.

The bar in the staging area
The bar in the staging area

Myrtle Beach 2016 – Sometimes Less Is More

Our golf travel group visited The Grand Strand for a long anticipated week of overindulgence from May 29 to June 5th and I finally learned the lesson that sometimes less is more.  It has its practical applications in life and sometimes needs to be learned and re-learned on the golf course.

Our trip was a wild ride from the start as we traveled to South Carolina during the height of Tropical Storm Bonnie.  The slow moving system lingered in the area until Wednesday and while no day was a total washout, we got wet during a couple of rounds.

Thunderhead building over The Norman course at Barefoot Resort
Thunderhead building over the Norman course at Barefoot Resort

Despite the rain, I still played 10 times over six days and loved every minute of it even though I ran myself ragged by the end.  For the week, I played:

Monday: Parkland a.m., Parkland p.m.

Tuesday: Oyster Bay a.m.

Wednesday:  Barefoot Norman a.m., Parkland p.m.

Thursday:  Heathland a.m., Mooreland p.m.

Friday: Thistle Club a.m., Thistle Club p.m.

Saturday: True Blue a.m.

Preparation:  I had been working on my short game in an effort to get rid of a 5-year case of the chip yips and boy did the work pay off.  My technique and mental game changes left me in a confident state and in complete control around the greens (post coming shortly on what has been working).  I was able to save countless strokes in a week where I hit a lot of loose shots with my irons.  Oddly enough, I drove it solid and straight but made some bad swings from a lot of ‘A’ positions.  On these difficult venues you are going to make bogeys, but in years past poor ball striking and poor short game would have resulted in several rounds ruined early with the dreaded “other” rearing its ugly head, but I knew early I was in business after making only one double bogey in my first 54 holes.  For the trip I had only three “others” in 180 holes played which thrilled me to no end.

I never went really low (76 at Parkland was my best round), but until the last day, played extremely steady and kept it in the high 70s and low 80s.  Unfortunately, the lesson of less is more had to be learned at True Blue (one of my top 5 favorite courses in the area).  I was starting to feel fatigued the previous day at Thistle (review coming) and by Saturday morning, was very sore and tired.  We warmed up at True Blue and I struggled to make any type of athletic move, even with a short iron.  I hit about 30 balls in an effort to get loose and never made solid contact.  Sensing it would be a rough day, I went through the motions, enjoyed the company of my playing partners, and bunted it around for an 89.

Smiling at True Blue before my final round 89.
Still smiling at True Blue before my final round 89.

It had been a long week of playing a lot of golf in the sun, heat, and rain, and everyone was pretty whipped after our round at True Blue.  We had the common sense to forgo one final replay and headed off to the Dead Dog Saloon at the MarshWalk in Murrells Inlet for some refreshment.

At the world famous Suck Bang Blow biker bar in Murrells Inlet, SC.
Stopped by the world famous Suck Bang Blow biker bar in Murrells Inlet, SC.

Every year, we make the 7.5 hour drive to Myrtle Beach from Maryland but this year we decided to fly.  What a great decision.  The one hour hop from Baltimore on Spirit Airlines was effortless and left us in a refreshed state of mind and body.  The drive down is not bad but returning in all that traffic after a fatiguing week of golf is tough and I think we’ve probably made our last drive down.  In coming years, I’ll need to think about conserving my energy for the end of the trip.  Yes, 10-12 rounds of golf over six days may be too much and was a painful lesson.  😦

So that’s it for Myrtle Beach 2016.  Stay tuned for course reviews from Thistle Golf Club and Barefoot – Norman.  Play well!

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