John Daly's Wicked Stick Golf Links in Myrtle Beach: Blue collar beers and big hitting golf

By Travel ArticlesFebruary 22, 2012, 5:00 am

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Wicked Stick Golf Links has stayed true to its blue-collar appeal. In many ways, it's in the style of one of its co-creators, John Daly.

'I still think we keep up an image, so to say, for the classic golfer,' said Head Professional John Thomas, who took over top duties in 2009. 'But we also have the relaxed atmosphere. A lot of places today, it's about get you on, get you off, get you out of here.

'Here, you can come, drink and have a good time.'

Located on the south end of Myrtle Beach just outside city limits, Wicked Stick attracts golfers of all skill levels. However, if you're looking for an upscale club complete with the white-glove treatment, this isn't the place for you.

Wicked Stick, which opened in 1995, is located adjacent to one of the area's most-used thoroughfares. And while traffic around the course can be hectic, pace of play and attitude on it are anything but.

The open design presents that relaxed environment. Regulars and first-timers alike find it one of Wicked Stick's biggest draws.

'I've played it a bunch of times this year. I haven't really had any times that were that long,' said New York native and part-time Myrtle Beach resident Kevin McDermott, who recently finished a round in less than four hours. 'I think my longest was four hours, 45 minutes. I was stuck behind a bad foursome that day.'

Wicked Stick Golf Links: The course

The average golfer can use Wicked Stick for a quick tune up, or to break in a new driver.

Outside of the course's four par 3s, pulling out the big dog on just about every hole is not only possible, it's recommended. And that's without playing the custom 'Daly' tees that bring the course length up to 6,913 yards. Taylor estimates maybe '3-4 percent' of players actually take on the Daly Challenge.

Simply having those gold tees present leaves some that play the Championship tees (which play at 6,500 yards) thinking they're hitting from the standard tee box (6,080 yards). For those who know better, it can shave off some significant distance.

'I could probably play 80 percent from the Daly tees, because some of the holes aren't that long,' McDermott said. 'But some of them, they are just too long. I don't hit the ball that far. There's just too much (going on) here. I can't carry it.'

For those who can -- or just think they can -- the Daly tees offer that opportunity at minimal risk. The course is dotted with hazards, primarily sand traps and some water.

However, with extra-wide fairways, players often believe they've lost a ball, only to find it still sitting in a quality position that would be out of bounds on another course.

It adds a component of ease that most golfers could use, especially after some time off.

'It's one of those golf courses you know you can come play and knock some of the rust off,' Taylor said. 'If you're coming down from the North or haven't played in a while and don't want to get beat down, you can hit it anywhere and still have a decent round.'

Said McDermott: 'I think if you're a good golfer, if you shoot in the 70s, you might not like it unless you want to play from the (Daly) tees. But I think there's enough golf course here for everybody.'

Wicked Stick Golf Links: Facilities and instruction

Wicked Stick features the 'Long Ball Lounge,' a full-service restaurant and snack bar with ample seating while a beverage cart runs nearly year round out on the course. The clubhouse also includes a pro shop with a large selection of golf equipment and apparel.

The grounds have a newly refurbished putting and chipping green close to the first tee. A partial driving range allows for players to warm up prior to their round.

Saturday group lessons and individual lessons are available throughout the week. Thomas is involved in all group and individual lessons.

Wicked Stick Golf Links: The verdict

Many of the Grand Strand's mid-range courses have been swallowed up by housing developments or awful bottom lines. That doesn't appear to be a path Wicked Stick is on.

The course has stayed true to its John Daly roots, providing an open links style with plenty of room for error. The motto of the course, after all, is 'Grip It and Rip It.'

Getting beat up isn't part of the equation.

'That's the nice thing about Wicked Stick. It doesn't matter how good you are or bad you are,' Taylor said. 'There's something for everyone.'

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Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:48 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.

Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.

“I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.

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The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.

“The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”

The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.

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Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:11 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.

There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.

Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.

Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.

“We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”

But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.

The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.

That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.

Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.

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Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.

“I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.

While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.

For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.

“I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.

But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.

Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.

They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.

“I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”

 Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.

“Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”

Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.

It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”

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Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head

By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 9:20 pm

We've seen this go wrong. Really wrong.

But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.

One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.

It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.

And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.

Hey, whatever works.

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Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 9:01 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.

Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.

The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.

“I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”

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Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.

“I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”