Tag Archives: True Blue

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!

IMG_1691

Team Walmart Storms Myrtle Beach!

From ramblinobeachchat.com
From ramblinobeachchat.com

The dust has finally settled from Golfapalooza 2014 (Myrtle Beach) and this was a trip like no other.

Our plan was  to have four players (myself included) drive down from Maryland and four fly in from Arizona on Sunday June 7th, with the intent on playing Monday-Saturday (June 8-14).  Storms on Sunday evening delayed the AZ group’s arrival and then left them stranded in Charlotte, NC as US Airways cancelled their flight to Myrtle.  Determined not to miss their Monday 8 a.m. tee time, they rented a car and drove the remaining 240 miles to Myrtle through heavy rain, and arrived around 8:30 p.m. with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  The airline refused to release their luggage and equipment to them and promised to fly them in on the next plane.

Sunday evening at 10:30 p.m. we checked at the US Airways lost luggage counter at the Myrtle airport but no bags had arrived from Charlotte and we were told the luggage and clubs would be in on the first flight on Monday – uh oh.  Our AZ guys were given permission to buy clothes, toiletries, balls, tees, shoes, and rent clubs, and expense them to the airline, so instead of resting up for our 5:30 a.m. wake up call and dreaming of all the pars and birdies we were going to make on Monday, we went shopping at Walmart at 11:30 p.m.

Team Walmart
Team Walmart from AZ

On Monday, we called Lion’s Paw early and alerted them that we needed four rental sets but upon arrival realized the clubs assembled were barely fit for a yard sale.  Was this how a golf vacation was supposed to start?  The course was also trying to launch a tournament off the first tee and sent our two Team Walmart foursomes off #10.   In the chaos of the arrival, tournament prep, and rental assembly, I did not have the opportunity to hit balls and went to the tee cold.  Somehow I scratched out a 7-over 79 on Lion’s Paw but was out of sorts all day and carded my worst round of the trip in the afternoon (89 on Tiger’s Eye).

In the afternoon, we received word that the clubs and bags had arrived, and had been shipped to our condo.  Upon arriving home, we noticed that all the clothes and golf equipment were soaking wet.  Apparently the airline had left them overnight on the tarmac during the torrential rains in Charlotte.  Very nasty-gram going to US Airways on that one.

Tuesday, armed with dried clothes and equipment, we headed back to Ocean Ridge Plantation for a round at Panther’s Run.  I got a good warm-up in and started to relax a bit.  On the second nine something started to click and even though I carded a 9-over 81, I hit 10 GIR for the first time in 2014.  My ball striking had been so bad this spring I was wondering if I’d ever see 10+ GIR and it was a welcome relief.

Then I got on a ball striking hot streak for the next 54 holes and shot 77 and 75 at Tiger’s Eye, with 13 and 11 GIR respectively, and carded a 76 at Leopard’s Chase with 10 greens.  Our AZ group was starting to play better as well as they settled in with their own equipment and clothes and it started to feel like a vacation again.

Friday, at True Blue, my ball striking was just a little off and I carded a respectable 82 in the morning followed by an 81 in the afternoon.  When the wind is up you need to hit it very solid off the tee, as the 6,812 yards plays like a beast.  If you don’t believe in the horses for courses theory, consider that last year I carded an 81-81 at the same venue under pretty much the same conditions, and in 2012 during my last round at Leopard’s Chase, I also carded a 76.  I’ve observed over the years that I’ve accumulated significant local knowledge and preferences, and often play well/not well at the same venues on repeated attempts.

Saturday at Surf Club (course review coming), I lost my swing and struggled for 27 of the 36 holes we played.  Inevitably, when playing this much golf in a short amount of time, you get too mechanical in your thinking, and I paid for it.  Only on my last nine when I decided to dispose of all swing thoughts except hitting the ball at the target, did things right themselves.  I struggled with a 46-41 (87) in the morning, and finished up with 44-37 (81) in the afternoon and enjoyed a super high note finish, as I hit a 3WD six feet below the hole on Surf’s 200-yard par-3 18th hole, which requires a water carry and was playing into a stiff two-club wind.  It’s great to hit your best shot of the trip on your last attempt.

Stay tuned for trip reviews of Lion’s Paw/Panther’s Run and Surf Club.  Happy Father’s Day to all!

Three fourths of the MD guys
Three fourths of the MD guys

 

 

True Blue – Course Review

Summary

On the tee at True Blue
On the tee at True Blue

We played True Blue in Pawleys Island, SC on Saturday, June 1, 2013.  Every time I visit this Mike Strantz design I enjoy it more and more and our 36 hole adventure lived up to the advanced billing.  We found the course in impeccable condition from tee to green, as it has always been.  True Blue is known for it’s huge expansive fairways and natural waste bunkers that do double duty as cart paths.  I always seem to drive the ball well here and believe it’s because the wide fairways tend to relax me, and the holes have abundant targets that fit my eye quite well.  We were playing the blue tees at 6,812 yards and the course played long and tough with a moderate wind blowing and showed most of its teeth on the par five holes.  #1 is a monster at 600 yards and was playing into the wind.  I’m not used to hitting driver, 3WD, 3WD on most par fives but did in round #1.  The greens were rolling smooth and medium fast and were a delight to putt on after playing on some slower surfaces earlier in the week.

Playing notes:

  • #2 is a short par-4 at 342 yards and you must play your drive as far left as possible.  The approach to the green is guarded by a canopy of trees that seemed to catch most of the approaches we hit from all but the proper angle.
  • #4 is a horseshoe par-5 that hooks around a large lake.  You may be tempted to get as close to the water on your tee shot and go for the full 200+ yard carry, but don’t.  I tried and rinsed two in my morning round.  The conservative play over land will give you a good shot at par.
  • #8 is a medium length par-4 at 363 yards.  Hit 3WD over the bunker on the right side of this blind tee shot for a good look at the green with a short iron or wedge.
  • #17 is a very long par-4 and at 426 yards was playing into a stiff wind.  Both times I crushed a driver and needed a full three-iron over water to get home and barely made it.  If your drive is a little bit off, play it like a short par-5.
  • #18 is a dogleg left and requires a tee shot over water, and depending on where they put the flag, the second shot as well.  The best play here is to aim just right of the green and short as the approach is a good area to chip from and takes the water and a big number out of play.

Clubhouse view from the 18th tee at True Blue
View of the clubhouse and 18th green from the tee at True Blue

Value (3.75 out of 5.0)

True Blue was the premium play on our golf package. Morning times are $94 and afternoon $74 in this time slot.  The replay cost of $60 was well worth the price.  Range balls were complimentary.  The grill provided a large menu of food options with good sized portions at reasonable prices.  For $15 I had a Cajun Chicken Club, coleslaw, iced tea, and tip.

Facilities (4.50 out of 5.0)

The course has some of the best facilities starting with the conditioning and routing which were top notch.  Everyone in my group loved the layout because it’s simply one of the best in Myrtle Beach.  The driving range is all grass and was in excellent condition, as was the short game practice area and putting green, and they are adjacent to the cart staging area which made set up and go very easy.  The pro shop is of ample size and the grill is a nice area to enjoy food and drink after play.  The clubhouse has an excellent outside deck suitable for watching golfers plunk their approaches into the pond guarding #18.  The only peculiarity we noticed was that our starter told us to treat all bunkers (even those green-side and with rakes) as waste areas.  Normally, if it has a rake, you treat it as a hazard.  As a result, there were some unraked footprints in the green-side bunkers but it was pretty inconsequential.

Customer Experience (3.75 out of 5.0)

The bag drop attendants were very organized, punctual, and friendly.  It’s always great to have your first interaction be a positive one.  The staff in the pro shop indicated it would not be a problem to replay, but didn’t allow us to reserve a time until after we finished our morning round.  The thought was that they wanted to reserve the high priced tee times for full paying customers.  It worried us a bit because their sister course (Caledonia) was closed for a tournament and the thought of not having a time on a Saturday afternoon was a possibility.  Nevertheless, they got us out after lunch and we were not rushed, as there were no groups before or after us.  We asked to play as a fivesome but were told to go off as as a twosome and threesome.  We joined up and played the round as five and broke apart as we played holes that neared the clubhouse.  I’m sure this behavior was frowned upon, but we would have ceased if we were holding anyone up.

On this day we played from the blue tees for both rounds and I carded an 81 on both tries.  True Blue is an awesome play and is in my top five, if not right at the top of all courses at Myrtle Beach.  Don’t miss it on your next trip.

Overall Rating (4.0 out of 5.0)

#3 green - True Blue
#3 green – True Blue

Most Golf Holes Played – Record Set!

On the 13th tee at Oyster Bay
On the 13th tee at Oyster Bay

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?

Key stats for the 216 holes:

  • 81.08 stroke average
  • 19 birdies
  • 96 pars
  • 74 bogeys
  • 23 double bogeys
  • 4 others

Individual rounds:

  • May 27, Kings North, 84
  • May 27, Kings North, 86
  • May 28, Heathland, 75
  • May 28, Parkland, 80
  • May 29, Parkland, 74
  • May 29, Oyster Bay 82
  • May 30, Moorland 82
  • May 30, Heritage, 81
  • May 31, Rivers Edge, 84
  • May 31, Rivers Edge, 83
  • June 1, True Blue, 81
  • June 1, True Blue, 81

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!