Let’s get this out of the way early: by the standards of any decent golfer I’m horrible. A fragile psyche and a swing only Charles Barkley could love have conspired to keep my handicap on the wrong side of 20.
But what I am is lucky.
Whether I’m playing for work (!) or joining buddies who have come down for a beach golf vacation, I’ve played the best golf courses Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has to offer.
As a result, I’ve fretted over shots from Rivers Edge to Wedgefield Plantation, but some challenges cause more anxiety than others. The five holes below cause my hands to sweat and my knees to wobble just thinking about my history at each.
They may not be the hardest holes in Myrtle Beach to most, but almost universally they’ve scarred my scorecard every time out (with one glorious exception). Here is one man’s list of the top 5 hardest holes at the beach.
1. The 18th hole at Tidewater might be the tough finishing hole for any level of player. It’s a 410-yard monster (all distances from the white tees) that doglegs to the left and a marsh runs along the entire right side, in addition to cruelly dissecting the fairway. It takes a long, well-placed drive and a nervy second shot to reach the green. I’ve sacrificed many a golf ball and my dignity trying to record a respectable number here. I’ll update this story when I succeed.
2. The 16th at Caledonia is a great hole. From my perspective, it’s the type of hole real golfers play well. A dogleg right, it’s only 375 yards from the white tees but water running to the edge of an undulating green means it’s all carry coming home. I’ve always viewed the 16th as a litmus test for any improvement I’ve made in my game. Unfortunately the test results have always been the same - failure.
3. The scorecard says the ninth hole at Barefoot Resort’s Dye Course is the layout’s fourth hardest hole, but it’s No. 1 in your faithful correspondent’s heart. The optimal drive favors the left side of the fairway on the 405-yard par 4, but that brings a soul-killing waste bunker into play. Balls that stray right make the water to the right of the green much more imposing. Regardless, I don’t drive the ball long enough to have a comfortable second shot, which is a nice way of saying I’d be better off writing six on my scorecard and proceeding to the 10th tee.
4. The 11th hole at the Dunes Club is the beginning of the most acclaimed three-hole stretch in Myrtle Beach, otherwise known as Alligator Alley. It’s not long at 370 yards, but my drive always seems to find the right side of the fairway, leaving a long carry over the swash into the prettiest green on the course. My career scorecard at the 11th reads like this – dumpster fire - train wreck – par – infinity. (For the record, that par was the highlight of the greatest 3 ½ holes of my life. I made par on 10, 11, and 12 and stood 140 yards from the green in middle of the par 5 13th’s fairway on my third shot. This magical story ended sadly there.) Dunes Club’s 11th hole is outstanding but with the exception of one glorious day, it has tortured me
5. The 13th hole at Pawleys Plantation is the area’s biggest little challenge, playing 70 yards to a bulkhead green surrounded on three sides by water. Did I forget to mention the green isn’t very deep and the wind from the nearby Atlantic Ocean is typically whipping across the marsh? (I had the good fortune of talking to Dave Pelz several years ago and ask him what the hardest shot in golf is. He told me for professionals and amateurs alike, it’s anything inside 70 yards. I think about that every time I arrive on the 13th tee. It’s a bit of knowledge I’ve never found helpful.) The hole is as devilish as it is beautiful.
That’s the list of holes that own space in the dark recesses of my mind, and have led to way to many big numbers on my scorecard. What are the hardest holes you’ve played on a Myrtle Beach golf vacation? Chime in on the Comments section below!