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Golf Course Review: Water, Design Make Man O'War Memorable

MOW Rev.jpgWhen Man O’War Golf Club was under construction, nothing was left to chance. The subsoil under the greens sites was customized to each location and wind studies were conducted to maximize air flow around the course.

Part of the exhaustive research owner Claude Pardue oversaw revealed that even though the property didn’t have any native water, it did have an unusually high water table, a discovery that led to the construction of one of the most unique Myrtle Beach golf courses.

“We found this property in 1993 and it didn’t have a square inch of water on it,” Pardue said. “But if we dug a four feet deep hole, it was a foot under water, and that gave us the opportunity to build a course around a lake.”

As a result, Pardue built a 107-acre lake that is Man O’War’s centerpiece. Architect Dan Maples then sculpted a one-of-a-kind design from the land.

Man O’War is renowned for its back-to-back island greens on holes 14 and 15. It’s believed to be the only course in the world with consecutive island greens, but they are far from the only memorable holes

The middle part of the course is its strength. Man O’War regulars refer to the par 5 eighth and the par 4 ninth and 10th holes as Amen Corner. It’s a tough but fair stretch.

The ninth - an island hole - is another unique Maples creation. After teeing off on the mainland, golfers take a bridge to the fairway and don’t exit until they cross the bridge coming off the green.

It’s classic Man O’War - unique, scenic but not overly penal as the fairway is the course’s widest.

Water is visible nearly everywhere but it isn’t overwhelming, assuming you don’t allow yourself to be psyched out. The fairways at Man O’War are among the widest on the Myrtle Beach golf scene, and long, forced carries are at a minimum.

The abundance of water also nearly removes two longstanding problems for golfers - woods and pine straw. There are a limited number of trees at Man O’War and the course is mowed from wall-to-wall.

The set of tees players opt to play from is an important consideration. Man O’War has four sets of tees though the vast majority of golfers don’t play from the tips (7,000 yards).

That leaves men with the option of playing the 6,400-yard regular tees or the 5,729-yard senior tees. Most men are loathe to move up, but if you are a 20-handicap, do yourself a favor and play from the senior tees.

The test remains significant and you won’t have to over-swing in an attempt to reach greens.

Speaking of greens, Man O’War’s are among the area’s best and largest.

Pardue spared no expense in preparing his course for great bentgrass greens. When Man O’War was built, he brought in a specialist from the University of Massachusetts to create a unique subsoil for each green, insuring prime growing conditions.

 “My idea was to make it as perfect an environment as you could make in Myrtle Beach for bentgrass,” Pardue said.

Mission accomplished.

Part of the plan also included greens that average 10,000-square feet and are as large as 13,000-square feet. The size of the greens gives the course multiple pinning areas which helps reduce wear.

The Verdict:
Man O’War is creative, it’s fun and it’s always well maintained. The water might seem intimidating, but it’s abundantly fair. The course is visually appealing and a lot of fun to play. There is always plenty to talk about in the clubhouse after a round at Man O’War. If you don’t believe us, try it!


Three Best Holes at Man O'War Golf Club

Man O'War no 9.jpgMan O’War Golf Club is built around a 107-acre lake, has consecutive island greens, and a stretch locals refer to as Amen Corner. Identifying the three best holes at the Dan Maples layout is a matter of taste as opposed to consensus.

With that in mind, course owner Claude Pardue shared his three favorite holes, and they are, not surprisingly, long on water and challenges.

No. 9, 433-yard, par 4 - In the middle of a three-hole stretch Man O’War refers to as its Amen Corner, the ninth is as unique as it is challenging.

It’s an island hole, meaning it’s completely surrounded by water. The fairway is 100 yards wide, though it doesn’t appear that way from the tee which can make for a daunting tee shot.

The ninth plays into the prevailing wind and often plays like a par 5.

“It’s a beautiful hole, but in my opinion it’s the toughest hole on the course,” Pardue said.

No. 12, 423-yard, par 4 - Another substantial par 4, water runs up the right side of the 12th hole and surrounds three sides of the green. A large, fairway bunker provides a buffer between the fairway and water on the right and the distance from the regular (395 yards) and senior (367 yards) tees mitigates some of the length.

A straight tee shot is critical because the fairway narrows in the optimum landing spot 130 yards from a large green.

No. 16, 367-yard, par 4 - A shortish par 4, Man O’War presents risk-reward opportunities on the 16th. The conservative play is to take a 3-wood (or whatever you hit 220-235 yards) off the tee and find the wider part of the fairway.

It’s more challenging to make birdie from that spot, but the risk of a big number is reduced. Players with a little gambler in them can pound the ball off the tee to get closer to the green, but water on the right side becomes a factor the further your drive travels.

“You can layup, but there are huge rewards the closer you get to the green,” Pardue said. “Those are the type of holes I love.”

What is your favorite hole at Man O’War?


Photo Gallery: Man O'War Golf Club

Man O'War Golf Club, built around a 107-acre lake, offers a surplus of visual appeal and a pair of island greens. The Dan Maples design has been sending golfers home happy since its 1996 opening. Enjoy a look at Myrtle Beach's only lake course.




Restaurant Review: Gulfstream Cafe Has Room with a View, Food to Match

gulfstream.jpgThere are more than 1,000 restaurants along the Grand Strand, and Gulfstream Cafe is almost universally regarded as one of the best.

Gulfstream is located beside Marlin Quay Marina, just south of the Garden City Connector, and much like Myrtle Beach, it’s an ideal blend of quality and casual. Specializing in seafood and steak, Gulfstream provides an outstanding dining experience and unforgettable views of Murrells Inlet.

Cost: $10-$30 per entree

Atmosphere: Casual. Seating is available indoors or outdoors.

What We Recommend: With all due respect to the various cuts of steak on the menu - both the filet and New York strip looked outstanding - you have to eat seafood at a restaurant that overlooks a marina.

Gulfstream’s specialties offer a stream of winners. The lowcountry crab cakes, which feature huge chunks of crab meat covered in a creole remoulade sauce, are outstanding (even residents of Maryland agree!).

The king crab legs, served with drawn butter, are very good and who doesn’t like to think they are keeping the boys of the Deadliest Catch gainfully employed.

But the best item on the menu, by one man’s estimation, is the grouper francais. Grouper fillets are dipped in Parmesan batter, topped with a lemon butter sauce, and sauteed to perfection. It’s a hardy dish that pleases the most discriminating of pallets.

One of Gulfstream’s most popular side dishes is its garlic mash potatoes. They are delicious, but consider yourself warned: there is an abundance of garlic and butter. For one night, consider it worth the price your arteries pay.

On the appetizer menu, here is a vote for the N’awlins shrimp, which are served over a cheesy grits cake and topped with a spicy gravy. For those from outside the area, do yourself a favor and try the grits cake.

The Verdict: Gulfstream lives up to its lofty reputation. The food is excellent and its exceeded only by the views - there isn’t a better place on the Grand Strand to watch the sunset. If your group is looking for a more moderately priced dinner, stop by for a drink and an appetizer on the deck. Gulfstream won’t disappoint.


Nature Valley's Tips From Pro: Hit It Fat, and Get Out of That Bunker!

In this installment of Nature Valley's Tips From the Pro, Brad Redding, one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers and the director of instruction at Grande Dunes Golf Academy, shows you how to get out of a bunker. Hint, hit it fat!



Eagle Nest Soars On Strength Of Finishing Holes

EaglesNestMyrtleBeach.jpgBy Nick Nicholas

Golfers will find the finish at Eagle Nest Golf Club can lead to new beginnings. Three unforgettable challenges allure players of all talents.

This 4-star Golf Digest ``Best Places to Play’’ selection and old hand among the Golf Capital of the World’s many outstanding courses is recognized for having three of the toughest finishing holes on the Grand Strand.

Eagle Nest opened two years after Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.  Forty years later course architect Gene Hamm’s venerable design – complete with a renovation upgrade a few years ago – continues to triumph over golf’s space-age technology.

You’ve heard of the 1927 New York Yankees’ Murder’s Row. Among Myrtle Beach golf courses, Eagle Nest has its own Murder’s Row.

Nos. 16-18 each has lengthy forced carries over water and all three have fairways winding through giant Carolina pines. The 16th is a par-4 that seems to play longer than its 449-yard listed distance. Next is a three- or more likely for mere mortals a four-shot 616-yard par-5.

Take an extra club on the 185-yard, par 3 home hole over water as well.

Grand Strand courses and Champions Tour tested The Dunes Golf & Beach Club and Tournament Players Club Myrtle Beach are each known for tough finishes. But visitors to Myrtle Beach may discover that trying to tame the Eagle Nest trio is just as difficult.

The remainder of the 6,901 layout isn’t simply a day at the beach. Water comes into play on eight additional holes.

Also making the course popular are its player-friendly rates and prime playing conditions. Birdie watchers can spot Eagle Nest off Highway 17 within an easy drive to the Barefoot Resort, Restaurant Row, a trip Calabash, N.C. and its unique way with culinary delights and of course, the 60 miles of beach voted among the country’s top 10 by U.S. News & Travel.


Campbell Wins First Golfweek Program Challenge in Sudden Death Playoff

campbell-men-women.jpgThe first Golfweek Program Challenge, a one-of-a-kind college tournament that invited 12 schools to bring their men’s and women’s team to the Myrtle Beach area, produced a memorable finish and a surprise champion.

The tournament crowned team and individual winners but what set the event apart was the Program Challenge championship, which was awarded to the school whose men’s and women’s teams had the lowest combined scores.

After 54 holes of competition, East Carolina and Campbell were tied atop the Program Challenge leaderboard. Instead leaving with co-champions, both schools selected two person teams – one man, one woman – for a sudden death, alternate shot playoff at Caledonia Golf Fish & Club, which hosted the women’s competition.

The Campbell team of Mitch Gray and Michelle Koh made par on the first playoff hole, No. 18, to best the East Carolina duo of Julia Strandberg and David Watkins by a stroke.

The Program Challenge win capped a great week for Campbell, whose men’s team was a surprise winner. (Complete Men's Results)

The Camels, led by freshman Andrew Gai, who finished second in the individual competition, recorded a team score of -31 under par over 54 holes at True Blue Golf Plantation, good for a seven-stroke victory over second place finishers Jacksonville State and South Florida. Gai, playing in his first collegiate tournament, shot a first round 64, and finished -13 under par.

Impressive as Gai was, he wasn’t the best newcomer in the field. Jacksonville State freshman Tomasz Anderson shot a 67 in round 3 to finish -15 under par and win individual medalist honors.

On the women’s side, Strandberg, who finished third individually, led East Carolina to an eight-stroke victory over James Madison. (Complete Women's Results)

South Florida’s Christina Miller won medalist honors with a -5 under par effort.  

The victory and Strandberg’s effort were particularly gratifying for Pirates, who have now won at least one tournament for 12 consecutive seasons. Strandberg, who opened with a 68, has battled back injuries and the third place finish was the best of her career.

“It’s unbelievable,” East Carolina coach Kevin Williams told Golfweek. “I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it feels to pull for someone so hard for three years and see it finally pay off.”


Player Friendly Layout Makes Crow Creek Fly

crow creekpic.jpgBy Nick Nicholas

Crow Creek Golf Club is relatively new among the Golf Capital of the World’s fairway of choices, but the Crow Creek name carries an outstanding reputation.

Word of mouth continues to grow, pushing Crow Creek’s status to a larger audience taking aim on its North Strand location.

Open for play in 2000, Crow Creek developed into an instant hit. Golf Digest nominated it as a candidate for America’s top new public course and it eventually became a four-star success. A one-time partner of the Jack Nicklaus architect team, Rick Robbins designed Crow Creek.

Robbins is one of golf’s top architects, fastening his signature to courses worldwide including seven new pending facilities in China.

Robbins carved Crow Creek amid a stunning, unscathed piece of property two miles from the North Carolina/South Carolina border. Crow Creek’s standing as a ``must play’’ course on the Grand Strand developed in part because of near flawless greens. The L-93 bentgrass surfaces continue to be recognized as some of the area’s best.

Moreover, excellent conditions from tee to green complement Crow Creek’s easy on the eyes and blade putting surfaces.

The course can be stretched to more than 7,100 yards. While its length could challenge Myrtle Beach’s favorite son and PGA Tour standout Dustin Johnson, Crow Creek has the ability to transform itself into a player-friendly course.  Six different teeing areas create a unique opportunity for players of all levels. There are two different starting points for senior men and women.

Crow Creek has approximately 90 bunkers and water on nearly every hole, but the hazards, despite their abundance, don’t overwhelm players. The yawning waste bunkers and water define holes, clearly showing golfers where the ball should and shouldn’t be hit.

Crow Creek’s greens are typically open in front, allowing players to run the ball up, but that avenue is only available to those in the fairway.


Great Greens! Myrtle Beach Golf Courses Reopen

riverclub1.jpgFall golf season is nearly upon us and the eight Myrtle Beach area layouts that installed new greens this summer will be ready to welcome golfers.

Each of the eight courses installed an ultradwarf Bermuda grass that replicates the best qualities of bentgrass while thriving during the warm summer months in Myrtle Beach.

The most popular of the new ultradwarf grasses are Champion and MiniVerde and they were the grasses of choice for Myrtle Beach courses again this summer.

The Norman and Fazio courses at Barefoot Resort installed Champion Bermuda, as did River Club. The virtues of Champion were on display for a national audience this summer because Atlanta Athletic Club, host of the PGA Championship, uses the grass.

The Avocet Course at Wild Wing, the West Course at Myrtle Beach National, Quail Creek, and Pearl's East Course and Lion’s Paw at Ocean Ridge Plantation all installed MiniVerde. A course with MiniVerde has never hosted the major championship but it has received raves from the world’s best golfers as the surface of choice at TPC Sawgrass and East Lake, home of the Tour Championship.

Because the ultradwarf grasses thrive in the summer heat, they take root quickly and provided an outstanding putting surface upon reopening.

“It’s growing in its growing season,” Max Morgan, the director of golf course maintenance for Myrtle Beach National, said. “People like firm fast greens, and they are going to love Myrtle Beach this fall.”
Six of the seven courses that installed new greens have reopened, with the one exception being Quail Creek, which will reopen on October 3. Quail Creek, a Coastal Carolina University owned layout, is doing more extensive course work than the other layouts.

In addition to new greens, Quail Creek is lengthening the 16th hole, redoing its bunkers and moving the second and 18th greens closer to water. Quail Creek is also substantially improving its practice facilities, increasing its putting green to 12,000 square feet, and creating a short-game practice area.

The Pearl's East Course is installing new MiniVerde greens as well and will be reopening on October 1.


Golf 9/12 to Promote Rememberance, Unity, Engagement

immelman.jpgThe Golf 9/12 project is as ambitious as it is noble, and numerous high-powered names have lined up to help make the initiative a success.

The goal of Golf 9/12 is to use golf as a catalyst to help recapture the unity most felt the day after the 9/11 terror attacks. The event will take place on, you guessed it, Monday, September 12 and it will feature a “live” tournament with players from across the United States participating.

Players can enter the event by making a $12 charitable donation and downloading a live scoring application that allows them to “compete” against players from across the nation. The app will let players enter scores from any course in America, challenge their friends, and compare scores with fellow golfers on the live leaderboard.

Though players will compete in the world’s largest multi-course tournament, Golf 9/12 isn’t about competition.

Golf 9/12 hopes to establish a legacy that will help future generations uphold values that were so evident following the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history.

“What Golf 9/12 is about is getting people to unite, getting people to play golf with their friends, with their colleagues,” CEO Johan Immelman said while in Myrtle Beach for the World Am. “It will all be done in the spirit of unity and driving this incredible spirit of freedom we all hold so dearly.”

Founded by Immelman, the father of 2008 Masters Champion Trevor Immelman, the Golf 9/12 project counts Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino, 2009 U.S. Open winner Lucas Glover, 1997 PGA Championship winner Davis Love III and Olympic gold medalist Dan Jansen among the big names who have thrown their support behind the project. 

Golfers who are unable to play on September 12 can support the project through the purchase of a Swing Thought Golf 9/12 Unite band. All profits from the bands go directly to Golf 9/12.

Funds raised through the Golf 9/12 event and the 9/12 Unity Dinners will be used to support charities from four different categories. The charitable recipients will include 9/11 Memorial Funds, Local First Responders, Armed Forced Charities, and Friends of Freedom Charities.