The hunt for Myrtle Beachs Signature Hole
Myrtle Beach golf courses are chock full of them. And, interestingly enough, the concept of a 'signature hole' is considered by many golf architecture historians to have been born in Myrtle Beach at the Dunes Golf and Beach Club. Robert Trent Jones' famous 'Waterloo' hole, a par 5 that wraps around Lake Singleton just off the Atlantic Ocean, is the first known hole purpose built to stick out like a sore (well, a very scenic 'sore') thumb.
Today's definition of a 'signature hole' lies, depending on your tastes, somewhere between the best-designed, most drama-laden, most difficult or most scenic hole on any golf course.
There are roughly 100 golf courses in Myrtle Beach, and most of them have tried to employ their own offering as Myrtle Beach's best golf hole.
Here is just a sample of the headliners:
King's North at Myrtle Beach NationalNo. 6, King's North at Myrtle Beach National: Any worthy signature hole has a nickname. In this instance, No. 6 at King's North was christened by musician Kenny Rogers as 'The Gambler,' thanks to its island fairway that allows the hole to be played close to 100 yards shorter than the conventional dogleg left around the water. The shallow, peninsula green leaves little room for error both front, long and left. For some golfers, it makes their trip. Others call it 'gimmicky,' but no one deems it guilty of false advertising.
This isn't the only contender at King's North. The par-3 12th hole features an island green with 'S' and 'C' bunkers to the left, symbolizing 'South Carolina,' making it a popular favorite spot for aerial photographers.
No. 18, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club: Caledonia's 18th hole is the best closing hole on the Grand Strand thanks largely to its 19th hole.
The club has become infamous for its often rowdy back porch just steps off the 18th green. As players finish up their morning rounds, the porch fills up, and groups tend to stay here longer than most other clubhouses due to the entertainment provided by the 18th hole's approach shot: a long carry over water that sees one wet, embarrassing failure after another. Jeers and cheers echo off the porch long into late afternoon.
Of all the shots in the Grand Strand, this is the one that will most likely be watched by the most eyes and will certainly test your mettle.
No. 13, Pawleys Plantation: Pawleys' back nine hugs the marsh so close you'll always have the smell of saltwater in your nostrils. Both the par 3s on the back must carry marsh, but it's the short 13th's island green, with a miniscule putting surface jutting out into the marsh, that will have your group talking - or cursing.
And when the tide is out, you can see enough balls sitting in the muck to stock a golf shop for years.
No. 14, Grande Dunes' Resort Course: A handful of courses boast at least one striking hole along the bustling Intracoastal waterway, where anything from jet skis to fishing and luxury leisure boats pass by parallel golf holes at clubs like Arrowhead Country Club, Waterway Hills Golf Links and Myrtlewood Golf Club's Palmetto Course.
But the most distinctive is Grande Dunes' par-3 14th hole. It's a daring shot both over the waterway to a green perched to the left of it - up to 240 yards long if you're a gamer. A weak fade's only hope of finding dry surface is if it somehow lands on a shrimp boat.
No. 16, Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links: If your personal thesaurus has 'signature' and 'difficult' in the same entry, look no further than Glen Dornoch's 16th hole, which kicks off the North Strand's most sinister trio of finishing holes. It heads straight downhill towards the waterway. Depending on your length, a delicate layup is required to stay short of a perpendicular hazard.
The approach shot plays further downhill, to a green guarded left, right and back by the waterway. Often requiring a medium-to-long iron, few golfers move on to 17 with 4.
No. 6, Barefoot Resort, Love Course: Barefoot went out of its way here to leave a little something extra, recreating slave quarters behind the sixth green. In fact, the structure is so close to this drivable par 4, it isn't unheard of to actually fly the green with your drive, strike the structure and have it kick backwards onto the green.
While this structure is replicated, other courses have authentic plantation remnants. Willbrook Plantation is full of excavated slave ruins and even a cemetery. The Heritage Golf Club's 440-yard fourth is completely encircled with centuries-old oaks and a slave burial ground to the left of the green, which leaves little evidence of anytime later than the 18th century.
No. 18, Farmstead Golf Club: If 'signature' means 'longest,' this hole is the hands-down winner. Those who haven't been to the Grand Strand aren't often aware that there are some golf courses that spill over across the border in North Carolina. But there is only one golf course that plays in both South and North Carolina and only one hole that plays in both. It's Farmstead's endless 767-yard par 6.
That's just a sample of some of the area's most vivid holes. But in the end, it comes down to what the golfer remembers when he's with his buddies a year later in the poker room and the topic of his 'trip to Myrtle' comes up.
So what's yours?
by Brandon Tucker, WorldGolf.com
What's in the bag: RSM Classic winner Cook
PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook earned his first Tour title at the RSM Classic. Take a look inside his bag.
Driver: Ping G400 (8.5 degrees adjusted to 9.2), with Fujikura Speeder Evolution 661X shaft
Fairway wood: Ping G400 (13 degrees), with Fujikura Motore VC 7.0 shaft
Hybrids: Ping G400 (19, 22 degrees), with Matrix Altus Red X shafts
Irons: Ping S55 (5-PW), with KBS Tour S shafts
Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (50, 56, 60) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts
Putter: Ping Sigma G Tyne
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Monday Scramble: For money and love
Lexi Thompson falters, Jon Rahm impresses, Justin Rose stuns, Austin Cook breaks through and more in this week's edition of Monday Scramble:
It’ll be a long two months for Lexi Thompson.
She’ll have plenty to think about this offseason after a strong 2017 season that could have been spectacular.
She won twice, led the LPGA in scoring average and took home the $1 million first-place prize … but she also finished second six times – none more excruciating than the careless spotting in the first major of the year and the 2-foot miss in the season finale – and dealt with the crushing off-course distraction of her mother, Judy, battling cancer.
Thompson said all the right things after the CME Group Tour Championship, that those types of short misses happen in golf, that she’s overcome adversity before.
“It didn’t stop me,” she said, “and this won’t either.”
But at 22, she has already accumulated an incredible amount of scar tissue, especially for a player with world-beater talent.
What will 2018 bring? For Lexi’s sake, hopefully it’s more wins, not heartbreak.
1. The Thompson miss was plenty awkward. So was the end to the LPGA season.
In a fitting result for a year in which no dominant player emerged, So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park shared the Player of the Year award, after both players finished with 162 points. It’s the first time that’s happened since 1966.
Can’t there be some way to break the tie? Low scoring average? Best finishes in the majors? A chip-off content? Rock-paper-scissors?
2. Some of the other awards ...
Vare Trophy: Thompson, who finished the year with a 69.114 average. Maybe the players this year were just really good, but it’s a bit of a head-scratcher than 12 players finished with a sub-70 average, besting the previous best total of, gulp, five. Easier setups?
Money title: Park, with $2.336 in earnings.
No. 1 ranking: Shanshan Feng, though Thompson had a chance to take over the top spot. Alas, that final green …
3. Oh, and there was also the tournament winner: Ariya Jutanugarn, who capped a bizarre year with a satisfying title.
Perhaps only Thompson boasts as much talent as Jutanugarn, and yet the Thai star showed her vulnerability this year. After reaching No. 1 in the world, she struggled through a shoulder injury and then missed five cuts and withdrew from another event in a seven-start span.
Here’s hoping she learned how to deal with that spotlight, because she’s going to be challenging for the No. 1 ranking for a while.
4. Of course, we wrote that about Lydia Ko, too, and she just wrapped up her first winless season on tour since she was 15.
She had 11 top-10s, including three runners-up, but failing to earn a victory was a massive disappointment for a player who was No. 1 in the world for 85 weeks. Perhaps next year she’ll get back on track, but you never know – she changed swings, coaches, equipment and caddies. That's a lot of turnover.
5. So much for that “controversial” Rookie of the Year award.
Jon Rahm, named Europe’s top newcomer despite playing only four regular-season events, left little doubt about who was the breakout star of the year with a comeback victory at the DP World Tour Championship.
Though it wasn’t enough to claim the Race to Dubai title – he finished third – it should serve as a warning to the rest of the European Tour that the 23-year-old Rahm be the man to beat for the next, oh, decade or so.
6. Ranked fourth in the world, particularly impressive because he hasn’t yet hit the minimum divisor in the rankings, Rahm wrapped up a season in which he won in California, Ireland and Dubai.
Just imagine how good he’ll be when he’s not seeing all of these courses for the first time.
7. The biggest stunner on the final day was the play of Justin Rose, who entered the final round with a one-shot lead.
He seemed to be on cruise control, going out in 4 under, but he encountered all sorts of trouble on the back nine, making three bogeys a variety of ways – wayward drives, flared approaches into the water and missed shorties.
Not only did it cost him the DP World Tour Championship title, but it allowed Tommy Fleetwood – even with a closing 74 – to take the end-of-season Race to Dubai title.
8. Austin Cook is now a PGA Tour winner – and what a circuitous journey it has been.
After turning pro in 2014, he played the mini-tours, racking up five top-10s in nine starts on the Adams Tour. A year later, with a chance to earn his Web.com card, he finished bogey-bogey-quad-double. And then last year, Hurricane Matthew forced officials to cancel the Web.com Tour Championship. That left Cook without his card – by $425.
He made it to the big leagues this fall, after finishing 20th on the money list, and then won in just his 14th career Tour start.
“I’ve been close on the Web a couple times but haven’t been able to get the job done, and to be able to do it on the biggest stage in the world, it definitely boosts my confidence and lets me know that I can play with these guys,” he said.
9. Sam Horsfield, who in 2016 was the NCAA Freshman of the Year, routed the field at European Tour Q-School to earn his card for next year. He shot 27 under (!) during the five-round event to win by eight.
Expectations have been high for the 21-year-old ever since he received a public endorsement from Ian Poulter. His mentor chimed in again after Horsfield got his card:
I'm extremely impressed just like I was 7 years ago with this young man @hr59sam. @EuropeanTour School is a daunting week. Many congratulations to now being employed and I hope you enjoy the new job. May you have a long and successful career mate. pic.twitter.com/o8CCluTyI8— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) November 16, 2017
Another great story to come out of Q-School was Jigger Thomson, who is interesting not just because of his incredible height – he’s 6-foot-9 – but his back story, after battling leukemia as a kid.
10. A limited fall schedule hasn’t cost Brooks Koepka any of his stellar form.
The U.S. Open champion defended his title at the Dunlop Phoenix, shooting 20 under par – one off his own scoring mark – and winning by a record nine shots. The margin of victory was one shot better than Tiger Woods’ romp there in 2004.
This was only Koepka’s second start since the Tour Championship (tied for second at the WGC-HSBC Champions).
Xander Schauffele tied for second while Hideki Matsuyama finished fifth. This is the time last year, remember, in which the Japanese star was the hottest player in the world, taking four titles in six starts, but he admitted of going up against Koepka right now: “I feel there’s a huge gap between us.”
Um, has this ever happened before?
I.K. Kim had a WILD third round at the CME Tour Championship, making only seven pars and recording everything from a 1 to a 7 en route to a ho-hum 71.
This week's award winners ...
Back Under the Knife: Davis Love III. Set to undergo replacement surgery on his left hip, Love is looking at another extended layoff, likely about four months.
Underrated Fall Performances: J.J. Spaun and Brian Harman. Spaun, who held the 54-hole lead at the Shriners, earned his first runner-up finish at the RSM, his third consecutive top-15. Harman, who won the Wells Fargo in May, had three top-8s.
Fill-In Duty: Cameron McCormick. Jordan Spieth’s swing coach will be on the bag for Spieth this week in Australia with his regular caddie, Michael Greller, at home with his wife and new baby.
Get Well Soon: Luke Donald. He withdrew from the RSM because of chest pain. He spent the night in the hospital, undergoing seven hours of tests, but was given the all-clear sign.
Well that wasn’t quite the finish to my year I had in mind!! Had some chest pain last night and into this morning & it kept getting worse. After some medical advice, I had to withdraw & was shipped off to the hospital to get my heart looked at. After 7 hours of tests all looks good with my heart thankfully A big thank you to the staff at the South East Georgia Brunswick hospital for taking good care of me. Time to put my feet up for a few weeks, recharge, regroup and get ready for a big 2018.
All the Best: Webb Simpson. Wishing the best to the Simpson family, after Webb chose to WD from Sea Island after rounds of 67-68 so he could spend time with his father, Sam, who, Simpson tweeted is “sick and living his last days.”
Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Charles Howell III. Red-hot to open the season, with three consecutive top-10s, Howell missed the cut at Sea Island where he was 7-for-7 with three top-10s and a tie for 13th. Sigh.
Love to undergo hip replacement surgery
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Two days removed from arguably the most hectic week of his year, Davis Love III will undergo replacement surgery on his left hip.
Love, who hosted and played in last week’s RSM Classic, said he tried to avoid the surgery, but the pain became too much and he will undergo the procedure on Tuesday at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala.
“I had a hip problem the last few years, and I had a hip resurfacing trying to avoid hip surgery because I’m a chicken, but after playing [the CIMB Classic and Sanderson Farms Championship] I realized it was an uphill battle,” Love said.
Love said doctors have told him recovery from the procedure will take between three to four months, but he should be able to start work on his chipping and putting within a few weeks.
Love, who missed the cut at the RSM Classic, said earlier in the week that his goal is to become the oldest PGA Tour winner and that the only way to achieve that was by having the surgery.
“Now I’m excited that I’ve crossed that bridge,” said Love, who will turn 54 next April. “Once I get over that I can go right back to the Tour. I won after a spine fusion [2015 Wyndham Championship] and now I’d like to win with a new hip. That’s the reason I’m doing it so I can get back to golf and keep up.”
LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY
NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.
Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.
Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.
Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.
Here’s a summary of the big prizes:
Rolex Player of the Year
Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.
It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.
Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.
Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.
There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.
CME Globe $1 million prize
Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.
By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.
LPGA money-winning title
Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.
The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.
Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.
Rolex world No. 1 ranking
The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.
Rolex Rookie of the Year
Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.