Tucked in neatly beside South Carolina's famous Intracoastal Waterway, Barefoot, having been open since April of 2000, is still in the infancy of existence. With four championship-style courses enveloping nearly 2400 acres of land, Barefoot has quickly evolved into one of the premier golfing facilities in the southeastern United States. And with legendary course architects Greg Norman, Davis Love III, Tom Fazio and Pete Dye each mapping courses at the resort, it is no small wonder.
As the Canadian Tour makes their first-ever jaunt south of the border, Barefoot Resort will play host to the initial four events of the 2001 season-the Myrtle Beach Open (Fazio), Barefoot Classic (Norman), South Carolina Challenge (Love) and Can-Am Days Championship (Dye). Players in last week's McDonald's Winter Qualifying School and Tour members trying Barefoot on for size for the first time this week are giving rave reviews on the condition of the courses, particularly the the greens which, on three of the designs, are made with A-1 bent grass.
' The turf here is something unique, and the putting surface is extraordinary,' says eight-year Canadian Tour veteran Todd Fanning of Winnipeg after playing the Fazio course. 'All I've heard from everyone at Q-school is that all the courses are top-notch. The PGA Tour could come here and not blink an eyelash.'
Having each one of the courses constructed in its own unique design, Barefoot offers a challenge to every golfer, regardless of experience or handicap. Odds are if you are chirping about your round on Love one day, you'll be singing an entirely different tune after playing Norman the next.
'We offer four world-class courses with four different designs that will challenge every golfer that visits us,' says Barefoot assistant club pro Dave Genevro, who adds that the Norman course, with its scenic back nine running along the Waterway, is usually the first choice for visitors. 'Usually, after they play Norman, they want to keep coming back until they play all four.'
With a 136 slope and 73.9 course rating from the back tees, Norman blueprinted his course (7035 yards, par-72) to be built upon the existing landscape as opposed to right into it. Six of the final nine holes border the waterway, and on the 203-yard, par-3 10th, from an elevated tee, proper club selection could mean the difference between a birdie putt and a trip into the drink.
The Love design (7047 yards, par 72), rated as the sixth-best upscale course in the U.S. by Golf Digest magazine, shows that Love is as committed to creating championship courses as he is to winning on them. To keep it simple, the greens are often compared to the legendary Pinehurst #2-only located in Myrtle Beach.
'Building a course with your family name on it is a great responsibility,' reasons Love. 'Building a course that will uphold the tradition of the game of golf is an even greater responsibility.'
Boasting a traditional layout with breathtaking scenery, Love has blended the serene surroundings with an intimidating layout that will have you pulling out virtually every club in your bag. By strategically placing bunkers to the left and right of the fairway, Love proves he can be generous in giving the player a comfortable landing strip. But at times, a bunker in the heart of the fairway will show his unforgiving side, while leaving a difficult, if not impossible, second stroke.
The Fazio course (6834 yards, par 71) offers the type of sloped terrain that has made his designs legendary, while Dye's layout(7343 yards, par 72)has been referred to as the Grand Strand's version of The Old Course at St. Andrews. As one scribe penned in a local golf magazine, when playing Dye, 'the objective here is not conquest, but survival.'
And a memorable round on a championship course isn't the only impression Barefoot wants to leave on visitors.
'We want to give service better than what people are used to getting,' adds Genevro. 'We want to make it more than just a golf experience-we want to create a memory.'
With a state-of-the-art clubhouse, featuring a 200-seat deck overlooking the Fazio 18th green, due for completion in June, the finishing touches at Barefoot are almost complete. In the not-too-distant future a marina, condo complex, hotel and wave pool are slated to be constructed on a neighbouring lot, which will more likely than not cement Barefoot's reputation as a little heaven on earth, links style.