Just returned from six days of golf in Myrtle Beach and have shattered my previous record of 198 holes played by a full 18. We needed perfect weather to play 36 on six straight days and the golfing gods cooperated with partly cloudy skies and temps around 80 every day. Powered by nine 200 mg Advil tablets per day, the pain and stiffness associated with 12-hour days at the course was kept at bay.
Normally, we’d arrive at the course around 7:00 a.m. and hit balls for 30 minutes and go. The early tee times allowed for a break for lunch before heading out around 2:30 p.m. for the afternoon round. Two of my traveling partners also managed the full 216 and the whole affair was exhausting but tremendous fun. I would not advise taking this on if you have any physical limitations or sense of reasonableness 🙂 .
Leading up to the trip, I had forsaken all practice time for play, mostly over nine hole rounds, in hopes that the added reps would allow me to adjust more easily in bad stretches. This worked incredibly well, especially when my ball striking took a downturn. Also we took video of our swings on the course and reviewed at night and I picked up a few nuggets that I put in play the following day. The added play early in the season clearly helped and the availability of video was like having a swing coach always nearby to assist. Here’s one of me on my best drive at The Legends Heathland course. I noticed my ball position was back quite a bit and I’m still trying to figure out what else I did right. See anything?
Kings North and Rivers Edge were new courses for me and I shot my highest scores on those venues, which was not unexpected. Most of the courses were in excellent shape and a delight to play. Full course reviews are coming for True Blue, Kings North, and Rivers Edge. Stay tuned!
The new play-practice paradigm I’ve put into place is ready to be battle tested in Myrtle Beach. We are on the tee at Kings North on Memorial Day to get the show started, and I am shooting for a personal best of 216 holes over six straight days.
Since April 20, I’ve played 12 times and only practiced twice; effectively replacing 90% of my dedicated practice time with time spent out on the course. About 2/3 of these sessions have been nine hole rounds and each has been followed by a short debrief around the practice green for 5-10 minutes.
The gains from this approach are clear. I don’t feel like I’m relearning any parts of the game due to infrequent play, and as I play I accumulate mini tips that I use and reuse to self correct on the course much more easily than if I were playing once every week or two. The frequent play has got me MUCH more comfortable with my new Cleveland CG16 wedges. Distance control on the full and partial shots is becoming second nature and my bunker play has stabilized. Haven’t seen any dreaded lateral hits or thin chips for several rounds and hopefully that’s gone for good.
With the reps from playing 36 a day for six days, short game is usually not an issue, but physical and mental fatigue is. The true test and ultimate goal is better and more consistent ball striking.
Clubs “check”, balls “check”, Advil “check”. Wish me luck!
Was wondering last weekend what had motivated me to spread 30 bags of mulch with a bad elbow – yep, Masters Week. Ever notice when commercials come on for “The Masters” how you get a strange sense of well-being, and then while watching actual tournament play an endorphin rush takes over your body? It hit me yesterday after enjoying three hours of tournament coverage and I’m super pumped to go work on my game today. I’ve also experienced the same feeling from attending professional tournaments in person and in both cases I seem to be able to leverage the euphoria into short bursts of excellent play.
Some more good news. I made great progress with new practice and warm-up routines that I’m going to test today and again tomorrow and will report back on. Early sneak peak: I’ve been able to identify a way to prepare myself for play without overtaxing myself physically, and to simulate enough game conditions to get into the flow on the first tee instead of slogging through four holes.
Also finalized the line-up for next month’s Myrtle Beach golfapalooza. Two new courses are on the docket. Kings North at Myrtle Beach National and Rivers Edge. Anyone with playing tips on either of these, please share. We’re also scheduled for return trips to The Legends (Heathland, Moorland, Parkland) and to one of my all time favorites, True Blue. Full course reviews are coming on Kings North, Rivers Edge, and True Blue.
Looking forward to a great Masters weekend. Who are your predictions to win with this star-studded leader board? The 50+ year old in me is pulling hard for Freddy, but I’m still liking Tiger’s form.
One GIR, one chip, and one less putt per round. Is that the recipe for improvement in my golf game this year? I must be suffering from cabin fever or the general malaise of winter, but this new mantra was starting to click in my brain to the tune to the old Thorogood rendition.
After reviewing my performance stats for the past few years, it would seem that making just minor improvements in these key areas would allow me to shave two strokes off my scoring average, which would be huge. But it’s been incredibly tough to make any measurable improvement and my propensity to plateau has got me concerned. Two things seem constant: I have a continual desire to make significant changes in different areas of my game and the work I put in hardly yields any downstream positive effects. Does this happen to you as well?
Then I read the “3 – 8 – 13” theory in a recent golf publication and decided to put it to the test. The assumption: If you hit 3 greens, you should break 90. Hit 8 and you’ll crack 80. Hit 13 and you break 70. Since I averaged 8.74 GIR last year and 78.85 strokes per round, I figured the correlation was close and set out to measure it. I had 23 rounds with 8 or more GIR and broke 80 19 times; pretty darned accurate. In the last three years, I hit or exceeded 13 GIRs 11 times and shot 70 once and broke it twice. However, my worst score of those 11 rounds was 76, so that proved there is a huge correlation between GIR and score. Funny how it keeps coming back to ball striking. So what now?
From various lessons and film analysis, I know my ball striking inconsistency stems from a loss of spine angle on the downswing and a bit of an early release. It’s hard to work on swing in the winter, so I’ve been focusing on eliminating bad habits in my backswing and putting myself in the best positions possible. This work is possible with just a mirror and a club in your basement, and as I work the various positions, the guy looking back in the mirror seems to be in pretty good shape but what’s going to happen with that first live contact in a couple of weeks? Also, in one of those sub 70 rounds, I noted my playing strategy was to shoot for the center of every green on any iron shot longer than a pitching wedge; interesting. Perhaps some conservative course management would be in order as well.
Anyone with some good drills for maintaining spine angle, increasing lag on the downswing, and overall course management improvement tips, please send them along. Thanks!
Need some advice on a new golf destination. I want to book a fall trip on the Robert Trent Jones (RTJ Golf Trail) in Alabama and have read lots of good things about excellent value, great courses, top notch playing conditions, but I’ve never been to Alabama much less considered how to play the trail.
It seems the trail is spread out over the entire state and there is some serious mileage between courses. I’m looking for a reasonable itinerary for a week of golf in the October time frame with about 18 holes per day and was wondering if this was even doable considering how spread out the RTJ Trail is. Does it make sense to identify a center-state spot as my headquarters and venture out for day trips, or travel along the trail to different sites?
I’m also a huge fan of SEC football and would LOVE to turn this adventure into a bucket list event and couple it with a home game at the University of Alabama on either Oct 19 vs Arkansas or Oct 26 vs Tennessee!
Anyone with tips on golfing the RTJ or how to get Alabama football tickets, please send. Thanks!
I played Heritage Shores on Sunday, November 4, 2012. The course is part of a new +55 residential community in Bridgeville, DE and is conveniently located on Rt 13, one mile south of the intersection of Rt 404 (main thoroughfare to the Delaware beaches.) This Arthur Hills design presents a classic open style links play with significant green-side mounding and very little protection from the wind. The day I visited it was windy and while the layout isn’t particularly difficult, the wind made scoring a challenge. Most of the par four and five holes are fairly open but are bordered by a considerable amount of water, usually running parallel or diagonal to the tee shot. The view from the tees fit my eye well and I didn’t find it too difficult to avoid the hazards but you get the feeling on several holes of a repeat look.
The front nine is the more pleasurable of the two as the course winds its way out into open areas and you feel more secluded. The back is crammed into “house world” with the new single-family homes all looking the same. I don’t mind playing courses tightly woven into housing communities, such as Oyster Bay in Sunset Beach, NC, where the properties are very different and present some variety, but that’s not the case at Heritage Shores.
Conditions were good through the green with the putting surfaces rolling medium fast and holding iron shots reasonably well, despite the heavy wind. The bunkers were in terrible shape, with nearly every one loaded with casual water and leaves. In all fairness, Hurricane Sandy had deposited about 10 inches of rain a few days earlier but the rest of the course had drained well so I was unsure if the greens crew had ignored the bunkers or these were just poorly designed. I only had the bunkers at Queenstown Harbor, which I had played two days earlier, to compare to and they were in pristine condition.
Value (2.5 out of 5.0)
Greens fees were $59 which included a cart. I believe the in-season rates are the same which would make it a better play in the summer, but I wouldn’t go any higher to visit a course of this caliber. A small bag of range balls was $6 and they should really be included in the greens fee to improve value.
Facilities (2.5 out of 5.0)
Heritage shores has a giant clubhouse that serves the entire community with two restaurants and houses the cart barn along with other non-golf related offices. The smallish pro shop is combined in an adjacent building with a fitness and aquatic center. A small snack bar sits next to the golf shop entrance but was closed when I played. A small number of soft drinks were available for sale in the pro shop but I was surprised not to find the snack bar open for weekend play.
The driving range is a short cart ride across the street and boasts about 15 hitting stations. We were hitting from mats and there appeared to be an ample grass area that was not open. One thing missing was some type of bag rack or device to hold clubs and towels next to the hitting stations. There was nothing, as you can see in the picture below, which required you to lay your clubs on the ground.
There were two very small putting greens adjacent to the golf shop entrance and I saw a sign indicating the short game practice area was closed. I never observed the area and will reserve comment.
Customer Experience (3.5 out of 5.0)
I booked a tee time over the phone and my impression of the golf shop staff was courteous and professional. The starter drove out to the range to notify me when it was my turn to play which I appreciated.
The GPS units on the golf carts were touch screen, but only showed distance to the center of the greens, not the flag stick. You had to drag the flagstick icon to a particular part of the screen where you thought the flag was and the GPS would recalculate the yardage. I found this kludge and was glad I brought my Bushnell rangefinder to snap accurate yardages to the pins. I could also do without the constant stream of adds on the GPS which required you to touch the screen to “return to golf”.
Overall I viewed Heritage Shores as a decent retirement community golf course but not a facility dedicated to the serious player. For the record, I played the green tees at 6,477 yards and carded a 12-over par 84.
On Friday, November 2nd, I made my way down to Queenstown Harbor to play the River course just a few days removed from Hurricane Sandy. Queenstown is a 36-hole facility with The River being the more upscale play, and The Lakes, also a nice course, but not presenting as scenic an experience or as challenging. The River has a lot of water and combines tree-lined protected holes with some open and exposed holes that are subjected to the winds off the nearby Chester River and Chesapeake Bay. On this day, the hurricane was just exiting the area and the wind was sustained at 15-20 mph with higher gusts, and the temperature was in the high 40s. Playing conditions were super difficult from the blue tees at 6,568 yards. I was amazed at the exquisite course conditioning considering nearly a foot of rain had fallen only days before. The course drained extremely well and the bunkers were in immaculate shape (all groomed and not a sign of any pooling.) Fairways, tees and greens were smooth and filled in nicely. We were playing cart path only but the course was dry for all practical purposes. A tip of the cap goes to the greens crew for the amazing job.
All par-fives are three shot holes and placement is the key off the tee. Don’t hesitate to take a three wood and keep it in play.
Most of the par-fours are medium length and play under 400 yards, however there are several sharp doglegs that tempt you to play over water to get a shorter look. Don’t succumb to the temptation as the risk is not worth the reward. The iron play in from the safe areas on #4 and #12 are easy enough to play to without risking a rinse.
#18 is a par-five and when the pin is cut front and left, be careful of the hidden water hazard that creeps up close to the green. You can’t see it from the fairway.
Value (3.0 out of 5.0)
I played on the off-season rate of $75. In season is in the $90-$100 range which is not inexpensive for this play, even though the price includes your cart and unlimited range balls. The Lakes can be played for $49 off-season and the greens fee is commensurate with the relative caliber of the layout.
Facilities (4.0 out of 5.0)
Queenstown has a modest size clubhouse that houses a well stocked and attractive pro shop, along with a good sized snack bar. Behind the building is a pavilion used for outings which is a nice setting and can host upwards of 200 people. Earlier this year I played a very well attended charity event here that was organized nicely.
There is a 25 station driving range that is outfitted with mats that are designed to hold a wooden tee. Unfortunately they don’t do the job and just teeing a ball up to hit driver was an issue, which was about the only source of frustration I had during the day. There is a very large beautiful practice putting green adjacent to the first green and a smaller one by the driving range. Next to the primary green is a medium sized pitching green that includes a bunker and a closely mown area, and presents a variety of lies to practice from. Overall, the practice facilities are spacious and ample enough to support two courses.
Customer Experience (4.0 out of 5.0)
The staff at Queenstown from the professional manning the shop, to the snack bar attendant to the starter/bag drop guy were all very friendly and accommodating. Reserving a tee time was easily done through their website which is intuitive and easy to use. On this date, they had any time I wanted and the starter gave me the option to play as a single or pair up with a choice of twosomes. Playing Queenstown in the offseason or in season during the charity outing was a delight. Visitors to Maryland’s eastern shore should not miss this one.
Been effectively out of action for the past two months because of our major home remodeling project but I am back and psyched for my fall season road trip to the eastern shore! The house looks great and was a huge distraction, and outside of practicing my move in every mirror and elevator, I haven’t thought much about the game until recently. Is anyone else compelled to make a swing as soon as you see yourself in a full length mirror? I know I’m not alone and it’s funny how that works. I also found myself practicing my setup and alignment (toes on the sidewalk cracks) in my local transit station and I knew it was time to get back on the course.
A pattern of roller coaster golf had set in during the occasional “break the monotony” round in the past few months and I’m hoping that’s due to lack of practice – lack of focus, and is a minor anomaly. I will take Vet’s advice next time out and try to play a bit more conservative on the dogleg tee shots, which had been getting me in big trouble and had been the launching pad for some skyrocketing numbers.
I developed a push-cut with my golf swing on my recent Myrtle Beach golf trip. Here’s two videos of me face on and down the line with the driver (post-trip). I’m willing to try something new and give the readers of this blog a crack at providing suggestions for my improvement so please add a comment on what you think is the source of the push-cut and / or provide any drills or swing changes you think might help. Thanks for your willingness to participate; let’s get at it!
On Thursday, June 21, 2012, our travel group played Tidewater on a scheduled afternoon starting time. Located in North Myrtle Beach, SC, we found Tidewater to be a rather ordinary course with a dozen almost unforgettable holes mixed in with six that are absolutely breathtaking and run along the Intracoastal Waterway, and at the end of the day, form a distinct and lasting impression. This course is highly touted, and admittedly, when I recall my experience, I think of those great holes and the natural beauty of the area. At the conclusion of your round you feel as if you’ve played two separate courses.
We found the course in excellent condition from tee to green with the putting surfaces running smooth and medium-fast. Unfortunately, they had just began their summer aeration and were working incrementally. There were four holes (two front and back) punched and top-dressed, but even the putts on these four rolled reasonably true, which was a bit of a consolation.
The par-3, 12this one of the most difficult and beautiful holes I’ve played in Myrtle Beach. Be precise with your club selection. With a stiff wind blowing in off the ocean and across the Intracoastal Waterway, three of the four players in our group actually hit this green and managed two-putt pars, which was the highlight of our day.
There are two great par-5s (#8 and #16) that run along the waterway that are difficult to manage for the first time player. I figured most course architects don’t leave trouble at 100 yards from the green on a par-5 and this strategy worked well on these holes. However, the fairway bunker on #8 runs out at about 110 yards from the green so take enough club to clear it on your second.
#9 is a medium length par-3 that played into the wind and about two clubs longer than you’d think. With marsh left and no bail-out right, the place to miss is short and in the closely mown approach. Beware of a big right to left slope on this green.
#10 is a medium length dog leg right par-4 with ample room on the left side of the fairway. Use it. I drove it behind a bush in the right rough and had enough room to clear it and go for the green, but I wrestled with a forced carry over water and took too much club, ending up in the hazard behind the green. You need a clear shot to this green so favor the left.
#18, when playing into the wind is a brutally tough par-4. I hit driver-3WD pin high and left which presented a very tough pitch that I could not get close because the green sloped away from me. Bogey is not a bad score here so don’t be a hero.
Value (3.0 out of 5.0)
The course is considered a premium play and we did not entertain a replay, hence the afternoon starting time. Greens fees are $94 in the height of the summer and $144 in the high season. Despite the lofty amount, everyone traveling to Myrtle Beach should play Tidewater at least once. The natural beauty of the featured holes somewhat justifies the cost.
Facilities (4.0 out of 5.0)
The drive into Tidewater feels exclusive and there is fairly tight security at the entrance gate. Once inside, Tidewater has a nice large clubhouse with a pro-shop and full service grill. The driving range is all-grass and of modest size (about 15 hitting stations). Adjacent is the practice putting green where they appear to allow chipping (we did), but they did not appear to have a designated short game area for pitching and bunker practice. The highlight here is the course itself and the stunning memorable holes.
Customer Experience (3.5 out of 5.0)
The customer experience was a mixed bag. The pro-shop staff were friendly and we felt unrushed because nobody was scheduled around us during our afternoon time. They charge $5.00 for range balls which is unnecessary for a premium facility like Tidewater where everything should be included. Golf carts were equipped with GPS but there was no cooler with ice, and the only drinking water on the course was at the restroom water fountains. The driving range staff was professional and after mishandling (accidentally dropping) one of our golf bags, gave us some free range balls as an apology. There is significant distance from green to subsequent teeing area on a lot of holes and directions on the cart paths were clearly marked, but we found it odd that there were no signs at the individual tee boxes denoting which hole you were playing.
For the record, I played the blue tees at 6,771 yards and carded an eight-over par 80. If you come to Myrtle Beach, make sure you make it out at least once to Tidewater and enjoy half a dozen of the best holes at the beach.
Updated from a round played Monday, June 8, 2015: The course has rebuilt their greens. They are Bermuda, running fast, and very hard. It was difficult to put a ball mark in and hold because the root structure hasn’t fully taken hold, but they look good. The customer service has improved as well and the range balls are now complimentary. Apparently the bad reputation Tidewater got from the problem with their greens over the last couple of years has spurred needed improvements. I was impressed.
Grand Dunes Resort Course, located off Rt. 17 in Myrtle Beach, SC is one of the finest golf courses you can play on the Grand Strand. Our travel group played here on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 and found the golf course in excellent condition and the service and amenities top notch. Right from your arrival at the bag drop you are treated with country club level service that sets the tone for a great day of golf. Grand Dunes boasts some of the best playing conditions from tee to green, as well as on all their practice facilities. It was hard to find a blade of grass out of place and it was a treat to play on such pristine surfaces. Depending on the set of tees you play, the layout can be very tough with a premium being placed on solid ball striking. Hit it close, or you’re going to three-putt a lot of these very large and contoured greens. Also, bring plenty of balls, as water comes into play on several holes. The course boasts a string of holes (8-10) that run along the scenic Intracoastal Waterway that can play brutally tough if the wind is blowing. The downhill par-3, 14th is the course’s most scenic hole and requires a precise tee shot to keep it out of the Intracoastal on the right.
Value (3.5 out of 5.0)
This is a premium course and the prices reflect the conditions and superb level of service. Green fees can run well over $100 and while our first round was built into the price of our package, we replayed for a fairly expensive $55 rate. You get what you pay for at this course and it’s worth the extra money to get the conditioning and level of service we received.
Facilities (4.5 out of 5.0)
Course conditions were excellent with the greens running smooth and medium-fast. Grand Dunes has a 15-station grass driving range that was in excellent condition and balls were included in the greens fee. The range was conveniently located next to the first tee. Three practice greens (one for putting and two for short game) were also nearby. Get to the course early to take advantage of these excellent practice facilities.
The clubhouse boasted a fully stocked pro-shop and a nice snack bar and full service grill. The food was good and the service prompt.
Customer Experience (4.5 out of 5.0)
The pro-shop, starters, cart attendants and beverage service staff were all very professional and attentive to our every need. Carts are fully equipped with GPS, coolers with ice, and as many free bottles of water as you want. We were especially pleased that the afternoon professional on duty allowed us to replay as a fivesome. His only contingency was for us not to hold anyone up, and we didn’t. It makes a big difference when you can play with your friends and not have to split up into groups of two and three players. We had an awesome day at Grand Dunes and I highly recommend this play to visitors in Myrtle Beach. For the record, I played twice and shot 83 both times which was 11-over par. We played from the blue tees which measured 6,737 yards.
Just got back from the golf trip of the decade to Myrtle Beach and have trip details and good news to share.
We enjoyed 11 fabulous rounds over six days in sunny mid-80 degree weather. With these temperatures, we played 36 holes every day except for Thursday when our first round was scheduled in the afternoon. Normally after this trip, my body feels like I’ve been through an NFL game with the rigorous physical demands of playing so much golf, but the conditioning work I’ve been focusing on since January has increased my strength and stamina, and I feel as fresh as I did on Day One. Let’s play another 11 rounds right now!
The swing speed work and exercises designed to strengthen my back clearly helped my iron game and I was hitting it flush and more consistently with all clubs. I was particularly pleased with the ability to attack flags inside of 120 yards instead of fighting a push, as I had in years past.
My driving was a mixed bag, as the additional length I was enjoying early in the season was neutralized by a fade that developed early in the trip and was hard to control at times. A big push reared its ugly head on occasion which is my standard miss with the driver, but rather than fight the push/fade, I just played for it.
My short game was not as sharp as I would have liked, especially with the chips and pitches you need from tight Bermuda lies just off the greens, however my bunker play was solid, and you need to play well from the sand as frequent visits are common on these resort courses. I never worry too much about putting because of the difference in surfaces from course to course. I rolled it okay but you can go nuts if you let the changing green speeds affect your approach. The better iron play made up for my substandard short game and allowed me to score better.
Handicap index went DOWN! Pre-trip was 5.2, post-trip is 4.4 and six of the 11 rounds were handicap rounds. Very pleased with this.
2012 trip scoring average was 78.81, down from 80.70 in 2011 and 82.50 in 2010. Again, attributed to better iron play.
Set a new personal best of playing 54 straight holes without a swing thought 🙂 Started thinking “target only” after a particularly rough stretch with the driver and this worked great to steady me.
Rounds / Results:
June 18, Oyster Bay – 75
June 18, Oyster Bay – 78
June 19, Grand Dunes Resort – 83
June 19, Grand Dunes Resort – 83
June 20, Leopards Chase – 76
June 20, Tigers Eye – 77
June 21, Tidewater – 80
June 22, Heathland – 81
June 22, Heathland – 72
June 23, Moorland – 86
June 23, Heathland – 76
Full reviews of Grand Dunes, Leopards Chase, Tigers Eye, and Tidewater are coming.
A couple of quick notes:
Playing this many holes, you inevitably hit hot and cold streaks. One minute you make back-to-back birdies and are on fire, and the next you wonder what you are doing out there and think you need a full swing lesson. You need to ride out the bad streaks, understand they will happen and not panic. Fixing your swing on the course is an exercise in futility. Just ride it out and have fun.
If you book rounds at The Legends (Heathland, Moorland, Parkland) it’s best to avoid the weekend. Our morning round on Saturday at Moorland took 6 hours and we had to quit after 15 to leave time to eat lunch and re-tee for our afternoon round. We actually finished the last three holes after the afternoon round was complete which was a little odd but allowed us to get the full 36 in. The double teeing in the morning and our late (9:00 a.m.) tee time was the culprit. If you need to play the weekend and want a replay, try to get one of the times before 8:00 a.m. Better yet, play mid-week at this golf factory. We did speak to the staff about the slow pace of play. To their credit, they made it right by giving us a free replay for the afternoon.
Call each course one week before you travel and inquire about green aeration plans. I moved us off Heritage and onto Oyster Bay because of aeration at Heritage right before we arrived.
If you have any questions or comments about any of these courses or just want to talk Myrtle Beach golf, send them along, thanks!
Dateline – February 10, Rockville, MD. Cabin fever has officially set in and is killing me. Thoughts of summer golf in Myrtle Beach are exacerbating the symptoms and we just booked our trip from June 17 – 24. We’re staying at The Legends with their outstanding accommodations, practice facilities, and service. Trip details:
Day 1: Oyster Bay. Just swapped in this awesome play along the coast in Sunset Beach, NC for Heritage, as the latter has scheduled summer aeration one week in advance of our arrival.
Day 2: Grand Dunes Resort Club. I’ve never played there but have heard great things. Anyone with playing tips, please send them along. Full course review coming.
Day 3: Leopard’s Chase. Played it once a few years ago when my group was looking for an afternoon replay. Loved it. We had the whole course to ourselves and had one of the most enjoyable relaxing rounds of golf ever. Full course review coming.
Day 4:Tidewater. Afternoon round only at our highest end course. Awesome looking track adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway. Again, never played this one; send tips! Full course review coming.
Day 5: The Legends – Heathland. Great links style course and right on location. Will try to grab an afternoon replay at Parkland to cover the main three courses.
Day 6: The Legends – Moorland. Rough and tumble P.B. Dye design and probably the hardest course at the Rt. 501 trifecta; just a great play. Kicked my butt last year but I’m game for a rematch.
Next Saturday is supposed to be showery and 58 degrees in the DC area and is looking pretty good right about now! Anyone want to play?
Congressional Country Club, Blue Course, Bethesda, Maryland. Site of the 1964, 1997, and 2011 U.S. Open. Also hosted the 1976 PGA Championship. Just a great old-fashioned superb test of golf.
Carnousti Golf Links, Championship Course, Carnousti, Scotland. Home to seven British Open Championships and 7,421 of the most brutal yards of links style golf.
Columbia Country Club, Chevy Chase, Maryland. Quiet oasis inside a major metropolitan area. Very challenging and has some great holes with significant changes in elevation. Hosted the 1921 U.S. Open.
Burning Tree Country Club, Bethesda, Maryland. Along with Augusta National, probably one of the one or two most exclusive old-style private clubs in the country. Take a caddy and tee it up where all the big shot presidents were members. Doesn’t even have a website!
Five Most Fun Holes
Par-3, #16 at Port Royal in Bermuda. 235 yards of the most breathtaking golf shot you will ever see.
Par-4, #18 at True Blue in Myrtle Beach, SC. 437 yards of dog leg left with a forced carry over water and water framing the entire hole down the left side. Great finishing hole.
Par-5, #7 at Eagles Landing in Ocean City, MD. Three shot par-5 measuring 528 yards that doglegs 90 degrees and finishes with a shot to the green set out in the marsh adjacent to the Sinepuxent Bay.
Par-5, #9 at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. Measures 602 yards from the tips and the third shot has to carry a large ravine to an elevated green. Super hole requiring three great shots to get home.
Par-4, #9 at The Legends, ParklandCourse in Myrtle Beach, SC. At 311 yards this is a brutally tough risk-reward play with the green high on an unprotected hill. When the wind blows you can put up some big numbers on this little daredevil.
It’s all about the course at Eagle’s Landing in Ocean City, MD. Located adjacent to the Ocean City airport, Eagles Landing is technically a muni because it’s owned and operated by the city, but the impression of “muni” ends when you step on the first tee. This is one of my favorite plays on the Delmarva and my stop here on October 28 again lived up to lofty expectations. Tees and fairways were in excellent condition and the Bentgrass greens were running surprisingly fast. Bunkers were well maintained and had good consistent sand.
Tee shot on the par-3 17th hole at Eagle’s Landing
First time players will not be wowed by the facilities but when play begins, everything changes as you enjoy excellent hole routing and a wide variety of shot choices around the greens. Along with the superb conditions there are several spectacular views of holes running along the salt marshes of the Sinepuxent Bay.
Eagle’s Landing is buffeted by fresh coastal breezes and the later your tee time the more certain you are to play in the wind. Managing the wind and knowing how to safely negotiate some placement holes are key.
Playing tips: The par-3 fifth has a prevalent two-tier green. If the flag is in the front or middle, play from below the hole. A chip or putt from the upper tier is dead. The par-5 seventh hole is a beauty and doglegs 90 degrees to the left. From the gold tees, play your tee shot at 200-210 yards. Take the maximum yardage to the end of the fairway for your second shot as there is ample room past the end of the fairway. You do not want to be short because the third shot is to a green out in the marsh and you must get enough distance to clear the tall pines guarding the left side of the approach. #10 is a short par four and the woods creep up fast on the left. Hit your 3WD or driver but favor the center or right rough for an easy approach. On the par four 15th, lay your tee shot back with a 3WD or hybrid to stay out of trouble. Water is hidden on the left and sneaks up fast and there is no advantage to hitting driver. #16 is a deceiving short par-4. When the pin is cut on the left (front or middle), do not attack it as most shots will roll through and over the green. Even putting at this crowned pin position is tough so take the middle of the green. The 18th hole is termed “The Beast of the East” and is an awkward play because it takes the driver out of your hands as the fairway runs out at about 210 yards and is guarded by marsh on the left and right. The second shot is difficult the farther you lay back so get as close to the end of the fairway as possible. If you land in the marsh, you want to minimize the distance for your third. Good luck!
Value (4.0 out of 5.0)
Greens fees are quite reasonable for a course of this caliber. High season weekend rates top out at $79 and we played for $55 on the weekend fall rate. Being city owned and operated allows the course to keep fees low and provides excellent value.
Facilities (2.5 out of 5.0)
The major investment at Eagle’s Landing has been placed in the 18 holes of golf. A medium-size clubhouse hosts a no-frills snack bar and pro shop which serve little more than their functions of getting golfers out on the course and providing basic refreshment. There are no locker rooms and rest rooms are a bit dated and could use some modernizing. Players looking to warm up need to use the short game area because there is no driving range. The pitching green is ample in size and provides a variety of lies as well as two practice bunkers that are kept in excellent condition. I’ve warmed up adequately by hitting partial sand wedge shots but if you need to hit balls, stop at the Assateague Greens Golf Center on the left side of the road prior to entering the course. The large practice putting green is located close to the first tee and and conditions usually mirror those on the course.
Customer Experience (3.5 out of 5.0)
This is a popular golf course because of the quality/conditions and the reasonable greens fees so get your tee times early. I had no problem booking an advance time for my late-October round, but in season, the tee sheet fills up fast. You can call or book your times on-line. One minor inconvenience is how you get a prerecorded phone message to call back when the shop staff doesn’t pick up, and then you are disconnected. I can wait and listen to some elevator music.
At the course, the bag drop staff and starters are friendly and accommodating. We were visited several times on the course by the beverage cart which was offering free coffee refills on a cold blustery day, which was much appreciated. The take offs and landings of small aircraft at the nearby airport were a pleasant diversion and didn’t prove to be irritating or distracting. GPS has been installed recently on all golf carts which is very helpful and we found play moved at an excellent pace with our round taking slightly over four hours to play.
On this day, I played the gold tees at 6,306 yards and carded a six-over 78.
We played Man ‘O War on Thursday, October 27. The course is one of two at Glen Riddle Golf Club (War Admiral is the other) managed by the Ruark Golf Properties Company and is part of an upscale daily fee group available in the Ocean City, MD area. Man ‘O War is an all Bermuda grass course which is a little unusual for the mid-Atlantic area, but we found conditions excellent with tees and fairways lush, and greens smooth and rolling at medium speed. The lone exception was the bunkers. The sand was dark, wet, and extremely hard packed but was consistent across the course.
The first 13 holes are pure links style golf with challenges in the form of small and large pot bunker configurations as well as significant mounding and rounded elevated greens. A missed green usually required an uphill pitch or chip from a closely mowed collection area or a difficult shot from the rough with your ball sitting below the surface. Be prepared to hit some sand shot like explosions from green-side grassy lies.
#14 (pictured above) – #18 wind through the woods and provided an interesting change of pace with more of a parkland-like feel. One small idiosyncrasy: there were large plantings of ornamental grass placed directly in line of site of several tee shots. While the grasses and tee box configurations were aesthetically pleasing, we found the placement a bit odd. Otherwise, no two holes were alike and the course was a delight to play.
Course management tips: Most par-fours aren’t particularly long but don’t require a layup with a 3WD or hybrid because of trouble, so go ahead and hit driver. The lone exception is #17, as the risk/reward is not worth the extra distance. I hit 3-iron/gap wedge for a good birdie opportunity. Also, if the pin is back on #3, do not attack it because shots landing hole high, will roll off the back and into the water hazard.
Value (3.0 out of 5.0)
In season weekend greens fees are expensive. Morning rates range from $89 to $129 depending on the date. We played after 12 noon on a mid-week fall rate of $55 which was a very good value for the quality of the course and facilities. The sister course, War Admiral, which is considered the premium play at Glen Riddle, is about $20 higher across the board. I’d recommend the off season value play because the in-season cost is prohibitive.
Facilities (4.0 out of 5.0)
Man ‘O War has an enormous clubhouse. The original Riddle stables, that were used to train War Admiral and Man ‘O War, were converted into the pro shop and the adjoining Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Everything from the locker rooms to the rest rooms to the pro shop to the restaurant is very well appointed and exudes class.
Players are treated to an all grass driving range separated in halves for the general public and members. Conditions were excellent on the range as well as the adjacent putting green, which had ample room to practice long flat putts and breakers. There was a chipping green with practice bunkers available but oddly enough it’s located at the opposite end of the driving range and is not obvious for those warming up for play. In fact, we were mildly disappointed at our inability to chip during warm-up as we were simply unaware that the pitching area existed until we saw it after holing out on the 8th green. A closer look showed it to be in excellent condition as well. If you want to practice short game before a round, get there early. Finally, the building that houses the range, has a snack bar and restrooms and is conveniently located before the first and tenth tees.
Customer Experience (4.5 out of 5.0)
Calling for a tee time was a breeze and they had exactly the time and date I requested. The pro shop staff was courteous and professional and the starter paid specific attention to our needs with regard to required warm-up time and desired time to tee off, given the fact that the course was empty. On the course, the carts were equipped with full GPS capability and a nice “Pro Tips” feature that provided course management recommendations on each hole. All the par four and fives had aiming poles in the fairway at 150 yards out, which we found helpful. The course does require some local knowledge to score and we found that if you can hit it reasonably straight off the tee, there were no tricks or surprises. Several sets of tees offer golfers of every ability a very enjoyable experience. With the off-season after 12 noon tee time, this course is an excellent play for visitors to Ocean City.
For the record, I played the blue tees at 6,556 yards and carded an 81.
We’re on the cusp of winter in the DC area and as I prepare for my fall eastern shore golf trip the inevitable sadness is setting in with the realization that the golf season is nearly over. My typical year consists of 30-35 rounds from March to November followed by two months of worshiping at the alter of the football and hockey gods and ending with a one month infliction of cabin fever. The absence of any meaningful play on the professional tours doesn’t help (and I’m not counting the President’s Cup as meaningful.)
Combating the passion drain and propensity to become a sofa spud is tough. How do you stay motivated over the winter? My main source is improvement. The ability to practice and the challenge of putting my efforts to the test on a weekly basis is a powerful driver. Banging balls in the backyard range has less appeal without the ability to immediately test my changes. Professionals in other sports stay motivated in their off-seasons by the fear of failure and loss of income. How about those of us who have a passion for the sport but also have day jobs? Will travel to a warm weather destination solve? Embark on a fitness regimen? Please send your ideas. Thanks.
My exciting fall line-up is booked for the last week of October. First up is a new course for me, Glen Riddle – Man ‘O War which is part of a two course complex just outside Berlin, MD. Next is Eagles Landing in Ocean City, MD, which is one of my favorite courses at the beach. And we’ll finish with another new play, Heritage Shores, which is a semi-private track in Bridgeville, Delaware.
My game is in strange shape after last Sunday’s round at Maryland National. I carded my highest score of the season (89) but felt strangely good after the round since I putted so well using the new Stockton method. Didn’t hit it close all day which gave my lag putting a workout. Weird how you can get excited about a poor round of golf. Anyway, full course reviews are coming and please send me any recommendations or playing tips you have on Man ‘O War or Heritage Shores. Thanks!
Playing your best golf on new courses has always been a challenge. Unfamiliar surroundings and lack of local knowledge can wreak havoc on your confidence, but there are several strategies I’d like to share to counter this.
Don’t try to perfect your swing before going on a golf trip. Lots of players attempt to work out all the flaws in hopes of having a ball striking nirvana experience. Don’t try: it’s not going to happen. This will have the opposite effect because you’ll be running with too many mechanical thoughts. It’s hard enough on a familiar course to play mechanically and on a strange track you’ll need to fully focus on where to hit the ball, not how to swing.
Do your homework by logging onto the course’s website and noting as much information about course characteristics as possible. Pay specific attention to the type of grass and the structure of the greens. You’ll gain valuable information to allow you to tailor your short game practice to suit course conditions. On my recent trip to Pinehurst, I knew I’d be playing to small elevated greens with significant drop-offs on all sides. Clearly this would require short shots with elevation and spin so I practiced nothing but pitches and lobs with my sand wedge leading up to the trip. In three rounds, I hit all my green side shots with the sand wedge except for one. It’s also a good idea once you arrive to practice at their short game facility to get more comfortable.
Do whatever it takes to keep the ball in play. It’s tough enough at your home course overcoming wayward tee shots early in your round but it’s even more important on a strange course because resort courses are often loaded with hazards not present off the tee on your average municipal course. “Hit the shot you know you can hit, not the shot you think you should be able to hit,” and you’ll give yourself a much better chance to score. Keep it in the fairway even if you need to tee off with a fairway wood, hybrid, or long iron. As you become more relaxed your confidence will grow and allow you to start hitting driver without hesitation.
Just returned from an excellent trip to Pinehurst Resort for three days of golf at one of America’s premier destinations. Here’s a link to the trip photo and video album. Played the #8 course on Saturday, #4 on Sunday, and finished out on the storied #2 course on Labor Day.
Pinehurst sells a variety of all inclusive deals with various lodging and playing options. We played on a three-day, two-night package and stayed at the Manor Inn which was the least expensive choice for lodging but was more than adequate for our needs. The Manor is an older building with clean rooms, nice comfortable beds, mahogany desks and wardrobes, modern bathrooms, and high speed internet access. Manor is very convenient to the rest of the resort as free shuttle buses can be summoned from any resort property and will take you anywhere.
The Carolina Hotel, pictured above, is the center of Pinehurst operations and is the largest of the lodging options. We enjoyed our three course dinners and morning breakfast buffets (all included) at the Carolina in their formal dining room. The food was delicious and the service impeccable. The staff at the Manor and Carolina were friendly and helpful and exuded class and plenty of old Southern charm.
Upon arrival, you are assigned a bag tag with your tee times and course numbers for your entire stay. You leave your golf bag at the main club and every day the staff has your clubs loaded on a cart at the course you are scheduled to play. Courses 1-5 play out of the main clubhouse and 6-8 are off-site. The main clubhouse is a tremendous facility with two pro shops managing play (#2 has it’s own). A huge grass driving range and extensive putting green are available along with several practice chipping and pitching areas. The practice facilities are simply the best I’ve ever played at. Inside the main clubhouse along the long corridor from the entrance to the locker rooms are displays detailing the wonderful history of Pinehurst and the various championships, trophies, and tributes to the winners.
Payne Stewart, 1999 US Open Champion
The original 1907 Donald Ross design has been altered considerably by Coors and Crenshaw in 2010. Gone is most of the rough, replaced by natural looking waste areas containing sand, grasses, and pine straw. The par-3 17th pictured above, features this to the right. In some instances, bunkers have been placed within the waste areas blurring the line between hazard and waste area. My group was wondering how a ball on the edge of a bunker within a sandy waste area should be played. On a pre-round tour of the course, I thought I’d be playing several 3-woods off the tees for position since the waste areas extend the length of most par 4 and 5 holes, but surprisingly I found ample landing area in the fairways and hit driver on all holes. Making clean contact from the various lies in the waste areas was difficult and we also noted that after playing the first few holes with the same waste area look, subsequent holes were fairly indistinguishable from the previous. At the end of the round, no single hole stood out for its features or magnificence.
Our biggest disappointment was learning that the greens had been aerated and top dressed four days before our round. This was supposedly a surprise to everyone including the pro shop staff, as the greens superintendent had judged that the Bent grass greens were under tremendous stress from the summer heat and needed to be saved. I was highly suspicious of this reasoning until I learned that they aerated one day before a major member guest tournament. Maybe it was true? Either way, our round was played on bumpy sandy greens and we payed the full $175 surcharge. Elsewhere the course was in excellent shape with the Bermuda fairways and tees quite immaculate, and good quality sand in the bunkers. I found the lack of formal elevated tee boxes and the all-sand cart paths interesting, as an obvious attempt had been made to preserve the most natural of looks to the land. Also the closeness of several greens to teeing areas made me wonder how the 2014 US Open and Woman’s US Open participants would manage the proximity to other groups and the associated distractions. Finally, in contrast with the other Pinehurst courses, there were no indicators for pin positions and guessing yardages was difficult since the only markings were on the sprinkler heads. The course requests that you keep carts on the paths at all times and there are no distance indicators on the paths. The other seven courses employ the Red, White, Yellow flags to indicate positioning but the #2 pins are all white with the #2 logo emblazoned and unless you take a caddy or are equipped with a range finder, you’ll end up guessing the yardage and lugging a handful of clubs from cart to ball.
For the record, I played the white tees at 6,307 yards and carded an 82 and was left with the impression that #2 was an impressive layout but was a bit over-hyped.
The Tom Fazio 2000 rework of #4 produced a stunning must-play. The course was the best conditioned of our three with the greens rolling smooth and true, although not very fast, and the tees and fairways in excellent shape. Fazio has framed several tee shots with clusters of pot bunkers, most notably on the edges of dogleg par 4s and 5s. Additional pots are cleverly placed green side to defend against wayward approaches. I found myself hitting 3-wood off several tees for pot bunker avoidance which turned out to be a good strategy. You have to think your way around this course and can score by avoiding the trouble.
Each hole is unique and memorable. They do a great job on hole #4 which is a beautiful downhill par-3 that requires a forced carry over water, and reuse the same lake on #13 to present a sweeping dogleg left par-5 that is the consummate risk-reward adventure. The fun continues on the par-3, 14th which features the same lake all the way down the left. A few of the holes have significant elevation changes that adds to the uniqueness of the track.
Inevitably, you will visit some of the 140+ pot bunkers so bring your sand game but if you can avoid the majority, you’ll do well. We played from the blue tees at 6,658 yards and I shot a five-over 77. #4 was clearly our favorite play on this trip.
Number 8 plays off it’s own clubhouse and is another Tom Fazio design and was built to commemorate the Pinehurst centennial year of 1996. The layout of this course was varied and very enjoyable however conditioning was an issue. The greens had obviously been stressed by summer heat and had significant brown patches. Some of the collars were completely killed and were being actively worked on. The Bermuda grass tees and fairways were in excellent shape, as they were across all courses. After the sum of our experiences on the three courses, we thought the resort may want to resurface all putting surfaces with Bermuda to better manage the heat.
The key to playing #8 is placement off the tee. you MUST hit the fairway or are left with awkward lies in very penal Bermuda rough. Once in the second cut, either off the fairway or green side, the ball sat down and was very difficult to extract with clean contact. Despite the ragged conditions on the greens, I managed to have a good day putting as the surface of the practice putting green mirrored that of the course and left me very comfortable with the speed.
#8 has its own driving range which was beautiful but was only half opened and got very crowded during the morning warm-up with some folks waiting a few minutes for a spot. Double teeing was the culprit and I’d like to see the course avoid that practice. There was an excellent short game area that included several mowed approaches and a good size bunker. A second smaller putting green was located next to the first tee which was convenient.
We left thinking that if conditions were better, #8 would be a great play. That being said, we had a very fun day and I carded a six-over 78 from the blue tees which were playing at 6,698 yards.
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