MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- The Wizard Golf Club isn't exactly the Old Course at St. Andrews, and the Witch Golf Club won't be confused with Pinehurst No. 2, but that doesn't stop Claude Pardue from drawing inspiration from those two great courses.
In fact, the one thing you can say about Mystical Golf, which owns a trio of golf courses in the Myrtle Beach area that also includes Man O' War, is that it never stands pat.
For years now, Pardue, the CEO and president of Mystical Golf, has been massaging these three unique courses along. The best part is that they are all different, and they continue to evolve.
The Witch, which is located in Conway just west of Myrtle Beach, is the most difficult of the three, and it's built on 500 acres of swampland, complete with vast amounts of wildlife, including alligators.
The Wizard and Man O' War sit on the same piece of property, but they are nothing alike.
'In fact,' said Pardue, 'during the planning process of the three courses, if I saw anything that was like any of the other two, I changed it just to be different.'
The themes, of course, are obvious, with each representing a sort of mythical experience. The Wizard has a clubhouse that resembles a castle; Man 0' War, believed to be the only course in the world with back-to-back island greens, has a clubhouse that sits over the water (as does the golf course, in a sense). And The Witch is isolated in the bogs with plenty of trees, wetlands and 4,000 yards of bridgework.
Inspiration from Donald Ross
If you listen to Pardue closely, it's clear that he's most proud of The Witch. Perhaps it's because it's the most challenging of the three or maybe because it was the first. This Dan Maples design is only a little more than 6,700 yards long, but it plays much longer. You can't hit driver on every hole, you get very little roll, and the trees, wetlands and bunkers frame most every hole.
But it also has a certain sense of natural beauty. Each hole is isolated, you don't see any homes, and the noises of frogs and other wildlife permeate throughout. It's also ever-changing by its very nature, maturing and constantly being massaged.
Pardue made the dubious comparison to the classic Pinehurst No. 2, indirectly quoting its architect. He said Ross lived on the course, so he was able to make changes every year.
'He said he never finished it,' Pardue said. 'He said No. 2 was great because for 25 years he was taking out the mistakes.'
Pardue has that attitude with all three of his courses. His latest venture on The Witch is to add hundreds of rose bushes. Like Augusta's azaleas, the roses will provide spectacular color in the spring and summer to The Wizard, which already has plenty of picturesque holes.
The Wizard's old country feel
For The Wizard, the goal is transformation, of sorts. Crews have been reworking many of the bunkers, adding sod faces to some, changing others into pot bunkers. Eventually, Pardue said, the course will have more of a Scottish feel to it than an American feel.
On Man O' War right now, Mystical Golf is simply redoing the bunkers. The course is already unique in that it's more like a course that put land into a lake rather than lakes around land. The bottom line is that there is no shortage of water, and it seems to come into play on every hole.
One thing that is alike between the three courses, though, is the service and the golf packages. No matter where you go, you'll feel welcome. Pardue himself might welcome you on the first tee or at the turn. And while you’re not going to find any gourmet grub in the clubhouses, it is good, quick golf course food, and a couple of hot dogs and two beers are even included in packages and green fees.
And speaking of packages, it's Mystical Golf's goal to keep you on its golf courses by offering deals that range anywhere from $75 per night to around $135 per night in peak season, which includes a variety of accommodations, breakfast and even a steak dinner. For more information on the packages, visit MysticalGolf.com.