Hidden Hills Golf Club

Hidden Hills Golf Club

Hidden Hills Golf ClubHidden Hills Golf Club in Jacksonville, FL is not exactly what you would expect, after all, this part of the state is pretty flat. Yet hidden from the surrounding area are the ups and downs you will encounter on the course and not only on your scorecard.

Hidden Hills Golf Club has been a fixture of the East Arlington area near Jacksonville since 1966. In 1986, Arnold Palmer and his design group did a total makeover of the course, creating the challenging layout you find today.

In its heyday, Hidden Hills had over 700 members and played host to the Greater Jacksonville Open, a tournament that has morphed into the Players Championship, now played annually on the Stadium Course at Sawgrass. Winners of this prestigious golf tournament included Gary Player, Tony Jacklin and Don January.

Hidden Hills Golf ClubWith the downturn in the economy that occurred in 2007 – 2008, membership dropped to about 400, not enough to keep a club of this caliber up to par so to speak. A little over a year ago, Hidden Hills relinquished its “private club” status and became a daily fee facility. Memberships are no longer available, however long-term player passes can be purchased through the pro shop or online.

Hidden Hills offers all the practice facilities you need to get you golf skills honed to maximum efficiency. There’s a full length driving range where you can hit every club in your bag. There’s a separate chipping area where you can work on your short game and a massive well undulated putting green where you can practice many of the breaks you are about to encounter. Whether you’re looking to work on your game for an extended period of time or just knock out a quick bucket before your match, there’s plenty of room for everyone. In the event your game’s not where you want it to be, the PGA professionals at Hidden Hills are ready to help you get your groove back.

Hidden Hills Golf ClubIf you’re an “A” player, looking for a challenge, play Hidden Hills from the Gold Tees. At 6,892 yards with a course rating of 73.7 and a slope of 138, the course is every bit a tournament-caliber course as you will find and brings many of the water and sand hazards into play. If you’re new to the game and are just looking to get some exercise and have a good time, play it forward. From the Red Tees, Hidden Hills plays 5,016 yards with a rating of 70.0 and a slope of 120. Something for everyone!

This Arnold Palmer signature design is resplendent with rolling hills and fairways; enough elevation changes to boast one of the highest elevations in the Jacksonville area on the green at the par 3, 5th hole. On some holes, the mounding on either side will funnel the ball back into the fairway; on others, missing the fairway can result in an ugly lie or a lost ball. I was thankful to play the course with someone who was very knowledgeable about it. Many holes are tree lined with stately ancient oaks and majestic pines.

Looking down the fairway of the 1st hole from the elevated tee box, you get the idea you are in for a treat. Trees line both sides of this 365-yard par 4 and anything long and left off the tee could very well find the water. A good tee shot will leave a mid-iron into a green guarded on the left side by water and a small trap on the right. A great starting hole!

Hidden Hills Golf ClubHidden Hills offers the advanced golfer several risk/reward opportunities. Such is the case at the par 5, 471-yard, 6th hole. Players that can carry the trees at the dogleg and the pond, will have around 200 yards into a green fronted by a lake and protected by sand front left. If long off the tee doesn’t describe you, take the more conventional route: play to get close in three and one-putt!

Hidden Hills Golf ClubNumber 6 is followed by another trying hole. The par 3, 7th plays 141 yards to a small, narrow green with a nasty little pot bunker that catches many short shots and a long, narrow bunker on the left that leaves a nerve-rattling chip shot to a small green with water on the other side.

Number 8 also fits the mold of challenging holes. It plays 318-yards from the White tees and requires an accurate long iron or hybrid off the tee, short of the pond that guards the front of the green. Success off the tee will leave a short pitch shot over water into a green which slopes back to front. Try and leave your approach shot below the hole for a good chance at birdie.

The back nine is home to Hidden Hills’ signature hole: the par 5, 11th. From the Gold Tees, this hole plays 612 yards, from the Whites, a mere 550. From the back tees, you’re looking at a tee shot that needs to carry the water 210-yards; 230 if the wind is in your face. The fairway is the widest on the golf course, so bombs away off the tee. Playing your layup down the right side will leave the easiest approach into the green and take the greenside bunker out of play. Your approach shot is to a slightly elevated island green that is pretty flat. Par is a good score here; however lower numbers are possible.

After your round, stop by the Hills Grill. This casual bar serves up your favorite beverages from 11 am to 7 pm. Lunch is available from 11 am to 3 pm and features some truly remarkable menu items. The buffalo chicken wings are more of a meal than an appetizer and the pressed Cuban sandwich featured pork that was freshly grilled and absolutely delicious. Hills Grill is the place to be on Friday nights when the kitchen whips up some tantalizing dinner specials from 6-9 pm.

Hidden Hills Golf ClubHidden Hills is one of those courses that you will have to play several times in order to get the hang of it. Water comes into play on 12 holes; 8 of 9 on the front and none after the 13th hole. The front nine plays 4 to 5 shots harder than the back nine and the emphasis is on brains rather than brawn. You’ll need to hit the ball a specific distance or to a specific spot to simplify an approach shot into the green. Many greens are elevated, thus eliminating the senior-favorite bump and run!

Hidden Hills has been around a long time and you don’t survive that long in the golf industry without offering a superior product. This course has everything imaginable to challenge a scratch golfer yet remain playable for a high handicapper. For more information or to book your next tee time, visit the Hidden Hills website at www.hiddenhillsgc.com.

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

Black Bear Golf Club

Black Bear Golf Club

Black Bear Golf ClubIf you’re looking for some of the best golf between Ocala and Daytona, there is no better choice than Black Bear in Eustis. Black Bear is a P.B. Dye design and from the looks of it, his father would be proud. What it lacks in Pete Dye trademark railroad tie bunkers and risk reward carry-the-water holes, it makes up for in fairway bunkers and difficult greenside bunkers many of them nestled into the surrounding mounds. In all, there are over 120 bunkers throughout the layout.

Over the years, Black Bear has served as a qualifier for the Florida USGA Publinks Championship, as well as the Hooters and Canadian tours and the Florida PGA. Black Bear was chosen not only for the great course but also for the practice facilities; they are some of the best in the entire Orlando area. In addition to a double-ended driving range, there’s a 40,000 square-foot short game area complete with sand traps and a large putting green. One of the things you’ll want to be sure and practice on the range is your lob shot; it will come in handy on those holes where your approach shots miss the green.

Black Bear Golf ClubOn several holes, finding the fairway off the tee can be easier than at most courses; the mounding and dunes on the peripheries tend to funnel the ball back into the middle. Approaching the green from the short grass is a definite benefit as you’ll need all the help you can get to hit some of the smallest greens in the area. It’s not uncommon to find a green that’s over 150 feet long but only 35 feet wide. Or vice versa. The dunes also serve to isolate each hole, giving you the feeling that your group is the only one on the course. Although this Bermuda rough may not look difficult in its brown, dormant state, it’s cut short and still provides the same challenge.

Black Bear Golf ClubThe greens at Black Bear are a story all to themselves. Collectively, they are probably the smallest greens I have played in Florida. That said, there are a couple that are about 150 feet long, but only 35 feet wide or deep! Like the rest of the course, there’s a lot of undulation in the greens, and they are typically quick.

The par 4, 6th hole is a slight dogleg left that plays 351 yards from the Black Tees. Be sure to avoid the waste bunker on the left that sits well below the fairway, it makes getting on in regulation very difficult. A good drive will leave a short to mid iron approach shot to a well-elevated green and may require an extra club. The green presents a difficult bump and run opportunity; in addition to being elevated, it’s fronted by deep bunkers on either side as well as two in back.

Number 9 has the Dye name written all over it as evidenced by the pot bunker that sits in the middle of the fairway. From the Black Tees, the hole plays 391 yards, so for most golfers the bunker is not in play off the tee, but rest assured, it’s there. Your approach shot needs to carry the green as another massive bunker with a huge lip sits directly in front. Par is a good score here.

The 388 -yard Par 4, Number 10 is another hole that doglegs slightly to the left, daring you to try and cut the corner, however with out of bounds looming down the entire left side of the tee, the risk outweighs the reward. Playing down the right side may add a little length to the hole, but it also provides an easier approach as it takes much of the sand and water on the left side out of play.

At only 107 yards from the Black Tees, number 15 may seem like a pushover but the bunkers and green suggest otherwise. This short hole has no less than 9 bunkers around the green awaiting errant tee shots and the green is over 50 yards long and only 15 yards wide. The undulation in the green also makes for some interesting putts.

The two finishing holes at Black Bear Golf Club not only define the course, they are two of the three hardest holes on the course. Number 17 plays 413 yards from the Black Tees. Hitting a good drive often catches the downslope in the middle of the fairway and leaves a manageable shot into a green that sits about 30 feet above the fairway. Anything left and short is likely to find one of the 4 sand traps that adorn the area.

Water comes into play on Number 18 and dominates the hole. From the Black Tees, anything hit longer than 265 yards is likely wet. The hole is 386 yards long with a bunker in the landing area on the right side. A good drive down the middle will still leave about 140 yards over water into an elevated, long, narrow green with a bunker back right. End your round with two pars or better and there’s a good chance you’re in the money!

Black Bear Golf ClubLast Word: If your golf course has the name “Dye” associated with it, odds are you’re going to garner some special attention, and rightfully so. P.B. Dye has done an excellent job with Black Bear, taking full advantage of the sandy, rolling terrain. The elevation changes are significant for this part of the state and the elevated greens have you constantly thinking about club selection. There’s plenty of room off the tee which is good, because Black Bear is all about your approach shot. You’re often playing uphill and into odd-shaped greens, many of which are very long yet extremely narrow. There’s also a lot of undulation in them. If you’re going to post a low score at Black Bear, you’ll need to have one of your best days of chipping, pitching and putting.

In the event your highly competitive golf match is tied at the end of 18 holes, Black Bear offers a way to break the tie: The 19th Hole, a short shot over the water to settle the score once and for all.

The course allows golfers of all abilities to have some fun and enjoy the challenge of playing a wide open but challenging tournament standard undulating links style layout.

Black Bear Golf ClubBlack Bear’s clubhouse features a pro shop with all of the necessary golf accessories as well as men’s and women’s “Dare the Bear” logoed golf apparel. The restaurant/lounge serves breakfast and lunch as well as all of your favorite libations. They have all of the traditional clubhouse food as well as some not so common items such as Bavarian pretzels with white cheese sauce and gyros.

For what you get, the greens fees are more than reasonable. In season rates are ridiculously low and off season or “shoulder” rates often include something “extra” such as a hat, polo or lunch. Rounds to Black Bear can also be purchased on many of the major online tee sheets. To learn more about this special Central Florida golf course, give them a call at (352) 357-4732 or visit their website at www.blackbeargolfclub.com.

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

Olde Hickory Golf & Country Club Review

Olde Hickory Golf & Country Club Review

Olde Hickory Golf & Country ClubThe Southwest Florida area – specifically Ft. Myers to Naples – is chock full of great golf courses. Many of them are open to the public – some only by means of a “stay and play” package, others you simply pat a daily fee. But the best conditioned courses seem to be the ones that are often behind privacy fences and security gates.

I’m talking about “bundled” communities, the type of community where belonging to the club – or at least purchasing a membership – is required by all homeowners. Naples is rife with them; they seem to make up the majority of courses in the area. I’ve had the opportunity to visit play and write about several of the courses and believe me, they are by far the best maintained courses in the area. In this economy, it seems that the only golf facilities that are truly flourishing are those at bundled communities.

Olde Hickory in Ft. Myers is one of those; in fact, it may well be the best bundled community in Southwest Florida. And that’s saying a lot with Fiddlesticks next door and The Legends across the street. There are 561 homes at Olde Hickory Golf and Country Club, all proud members of this private, exclusive bundled community. That’ s a low number considering most of their competitors have about 800 homes per 18 holes of golf.

The community is conveniently located just minutes from Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), Interstate 75, Florida’s Gulf beaches, hospitals and medical clinics. Ft Myers residents enjoy world class shopping, dining, entertainment and everything else the Southwest Florida lifestyle has to offer.

Olde Hickory Golf & Country ClubThe centerpiece of this masterful bundled community is the 18-hole championship golf course designed by the legendary Ron Garl.  At only 6,601 yards from the back tees, it’s not going to overpower anyone, however from the back tees, it will challenge even the best of players. The course opened for play in 1992 and has Bermuda grass greens and fairways. The fairways are well-groomed and the greens roll fast and true. Five sets of tees give golfers of all abilities a chance to enjoy the golf course. Residents can enjoy the convenience of playing a round of golf on their schedule and at their own pace.

At only 281 yards, the par 4, 10th hole is the epitome of target golf. Play your tee shot is to a landing area that’s not a whole lot bigger than the green. There’s water on the left and woods on the right, so keeping the ball in play off the tee is key. Succeed in this task and all that’s left is a short pitch shot slightly uphill to a triangular shaped green guarded on the left with water and rocks. It may be a short hole, but all pars (or better) are well earned. If you struggle, the friendly PGA Professional staff can offer lessons to help you shave strokes off your game. There’s also a full-service pro shop, driving range, and carefully designed chipping and putting greens making this a golf lover’s paradise.

Olde Hickory Golf & Country ClubOlde Hickory Golf and Country Club is not without its share of amenities and it all starts in the clubhouse. This newly renovated, 22,000 square foot facility includes a new 2,600 square foot fitness center with state-of-the-art fitness equipment. As a member, you’ll enjoy the magnificent view overlooking the driving range and 18th green, while using state-of-the-art cardio and strengthening machines to increase your fitness. If a group is more your thing, Olde Hickory offers several fitness classes provided by Fit Forever, the premier Sports Club Management and Corporate Wellness Company in Southwest Florida. The company has a unique approach to fitness and lifestyle management with classes designed to help older adults maintain their cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility. Whether you’re a workout warrior or just looking to add some activity to your daily routine, the staff at the fitness center can help you enjoy the benefits of working out in a group setting.  If class times don’t fit your schedule, members are still able to bring in workout videos and use the aerobics room.

Olde Hickory Golf & Country ClubTo many members, a country club is only as good as its dining room and Olde Hickory doesn’t disappoint and it’s always a memorable experience. Executive Chef Werner Dietrich and his culinary team take pride in creating delectable dishes for members and their guests to enjoy. Whether it’s a casual lunch in the Grille Room or a multi-course wine and dine meal in the Dining Room, the food and service are always impeccable. Members also enjoy the club’s themed dinner nights as well as orchestrated dinner and entertainment nights.

Step outside the clubhouse and you’ll find two Har-Tru tennis courts. These two surfaces have been completely renovated and are lighted for night play. The club offers women’s, men’s and mixed doubles tennis programs for members. You’ll also find 4 lighted pickleball courts. If you’re not familiar with the game, pickleball is a low impact, low stress game played with a perforated, whiffle-like ball and wooden or graphite paddles. The game is easy to learn and can develop into a quick, fast-paced competitive game for all players.

Adjacent to the courts is the heated pool and spa. All residents have access to the master pool and spa, in addition to their “community” pool. The master pool is heated during the winter for maximum use and is the perfect place to spend time with friends or guests, especially since food and beverage is available pool side.

Olde Hickory Golf & Country ClubOlde Hickory Golf and Country Club offers single family homes – many of which overlook the golf course. Choose from one and two story single family homes and attached and detached villas, all with amenities far beyond what you would expect in a bundled community. The guard gate is manned 24/7/365, providing added security and convenience. At Olde Hickory you will find a friendly, small town atmosphere in an attractive natural setting where exceptional service and professionalism are the rule, not the exception and excellence in golf and country club living finds a home.

For many current residents, Olde Hickory’s vacation program was the first step towards home ownership. Potential home buyers can experience firsthand all that Olde Hickory has to offer. For more information or to set up a visit to the community, give them a call at 239-768-2400 or visit the Olde Hickory website at oldehickory.cc. Olde Hickory is located at 14670 Olde Hickory Boulevard, Fort Myers, Florida.

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

Pelican’s Nest Golf Club

Pelican’s Nest Golf Club

Pelican’s Nest Golf ClubOver the past two years, one thing has been constant at Pelican’s Nest Golf Club: change. During that time, both The Gator Course and The Hurricane Course, have been completely renovated, from tee to green. The results will amaze you.

Back in 1995, world-renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio was asked to design an 18-hole golf course inside the gates of the Pelican Landing community. The primary goal at the time was to provide guests of two local resorts, The Registry and the Ritz Carlton, a place to play golf during the busy winter season. The course was an immediate hit and was ranked as the country’s “#3 Best Public Golf Course” by Golf Digest, giving Fazio his first appearance on the publication’s prestigious lists. Pelican’s Nest has also been recognized by Audubon International as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” every year since 2001, a crowning achievement for both the club and its members.

During the next 10 years, Fazio was called on to build a second course. Eighteen holes were added in phases, and, with each new phase there was some rerouting involved. Several years later, after several holes were taken from the original design and many new ones were added, Pelican’s Nest or, “The Nest,” as it is affectionately referred to, is the 36-hole facility that it is today. Rest assured, both courses are always in pristine condition.

One of the biggest concerns during the renovation projects of the last two years, was how to best use reclaimed water and become more environmentally friendly. Golf course architect Jan Bel Jan, who was involved in the original construction of the Hurricane Course, and installed over 1.25 miles of HDPE pipe that takes the reclaimed water to an irrigation pump station where well water is blended with reclaimed water in an effort to manage salts in real time and reduce water use, improving water and power efficiency.

From the back tees, the par-72 Hurricane Course plays 6,808 yards, with a course rating of 73.6 and a slope of 139. Most golfers will find that Tee IV at 6,075 yards will give them all the golf they can handle and still leave with a little dignity intact.  There are 7 sets of tees available for men, women and juniors. The bottom line is that whether you’re a seasoned golf professional or are just picking up a club for the very first time, there’s a set of tees that will help you enjoy your round. As your game improves, you can take on more of the course.

In renovating The Nest Bel Jan created a “course within a course.” These “scoring tees” eliminate a lot of the fairway hazards and make each course a lot easier to manage and navigate your way around. While the championship tees are identified with Roman numerals, the scoring tees are identified with an “S” and have their own scorecard. Many members use them on a regular basis and comment on “how much more fun the game has become” since they started incorporating them into their weekly rounds. After all, lower scores mean happy members!

Although the slope rating doesn’t reflect it, most members consider The Hurricane Course the more difficult of the two. Hurricane winds its way around Spring Creek and the boundaries on the back nine are dictated by brackish marshes and natural thickets of mangroves along the Gulf estuary. You’ll also encounter groves of native Florida oaks and pine trees as you make your way around the layout.

Memorable Holes:

The Hurricane Course features several memorable holes, but nothing more memorable than the last two holes on each side. Number 8 (Temptation) is a par 5 that plays 488 yards from Tee III and offers two ways to play the hole. Option A is the riskier of the two and requires a tee shot down the right side of the fairway, bringing the water into play if you push your shot too far right. A good drive down the right side will give you an opportunity to get home in two. The bunker that used to come into play on the right side and run about 200 yards up to the green has been replaced by three smaller bunkers, which makes the hole less difficult. Playing down the left side makes this a three-shot hole for most players and takes a lot of the hazard out of play. Regardless of the direction you choose, you’ll need an accurate approach to the green if you want to score well.

Pelican’s Nest Golf ClubNumber 9 (Moonscape) is a lengthy par 4 (408 yards from Tee III) around a lake. The third bunker on the left side of the fairway is a good aiming point off the tee; if you can fade it, even better. Most players will be faced with a long iron or hybrid into the elevated green that is protected on the left by a large trap and on the right by the lake. This hole was given its name by Gary Player, who said the humps and hollows of the hole reminded him of the surface of the moon.

The first of two challenging finishing holes, Number 17 (Spring Creek) is a short Par 4. At a mere 332 yards, the trick here is to keep your tee shot in play. The fairway is guarded by hazards on either side.  Consider leaving the driver in the bag, and hit something that will find the fairway. This will leave a short chip shot into an open green protected by a lone bunker on the right. A great opportunity to make birdie!

Number 18 (Teaser) is a par 5 that plays 498 yards (Tee III) and is one of the best finishing holes of golf in southwest Florida; in fact, it’s rather scenic standing on the tee.  It’s one of those holes that yields as many birdies and eagles as it does the dreaded “others,” and presents yet another risk/reward opportunity at The Nest. The hole is a dogleg right around a lake with a narrow landing area.  The water on the right can come into play for longer hitters. A good drive down the right side will present a good opportunity to go for the green in two. It’s about a 220 yard carry over water to a relatively flat green. If you play it as a three-shot hole, be sure to avoid the sand that protects the green on either side. This hole provides a fitting end to a great round of golf.

Also of note is the first hole; after all, how many times do you start your round out with a par 3?

The Nest also boasts some pretty impressive practice facilities including a full length driving range where you can hit every club in the bag; trust me, you’ll need them all. There’s a short game area complete with practice bunker in a separate area near the 18th green as well as a good size practice putting green. The driving range is conveniently located a short walk from the clubhouse.

After your round, be sure to visit the Thirsty Pelican Lounge & Grill Room or have a drink on the veranda, which offers an expansive view of Spring Creek and the finishing hole on the Gator Course. Either venue will provide a great opportunity to unwind after a round or to visit with friends over cocktails and dinner. The view at sunset is breathtaking.

Tradition Golf ClubIf you’re one of the many prospective club members that judges a country club by its dining facilities and menu, then look no further than The Nest. Whether you’re looking for a quiet dinner with friends or dancing the night away at one of the club’s themed event nights, the newly redecorated Main Dining Room is a perfect venue. In fact, The Nest boasts two private dining rooms and can accommodate events large or small; it’s perfect for corporate events, weddings and private wine dinners. Chef Cameron Hord and the culinary staff at The Nest offer a wide variety of culinary delicacies featuring signature seafood dishes and other delights.

The daily menu features many entrees you don’t often see, such as Wonton Pork Belly Tacos, Roasted Pear and Gorgonzola Salad and Blackened Grouper Tacos, served with a mango salsa and chipotle aioli. They are simply delicious. Dinner features dishes such as a Duck and Bacon Wonton appetizer, Crazy Shrimp and Magnificent Meatballs. There are also themed nights during the week such as Pasta Night on Wednesday, Seafood Buffet Night every Friday and Prime Rib Night, every second Thursday.

Although The Nest features 36 holes of spectacular golf, members need more than just a great golf course. The Nest delivers by putting together a very active social calendar for their members full of programs and the events that are unrivaled by any other country club in the area. Each event has a well thought out theme; many are centered around special days such as Valentine’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day.

Pelican’s Nest Golf ClubOne program that has become very popular among the membership is “Tuesday Talks,” a series of presentations designed to capture, engage, educate and entertain.  Upcoming topics include media matters, Southwest Florida’s natural environment and how to build and sustain a great baseball club, presented by a representative from the Boston Red Sox.

The Tea Time Book Club is also very popular at The Nest and already has a full schedule of events set up through the middle of next year. New members who are avid readers will want to check this out.

These are just a few of the ongoing happenings at The Nest Golf Club. For more information or to inquire about becoming a member, contact A. J. Szymanski – Director of Membership Sales at (239) 992-7782.  You can also visit them online at www.nestgolf.com.

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

Tradition Golf Club on Pawleys Island

Tradition Golf Club on Pawleys Island

Tradition Golf ClubFor more than 20 years, Tradition Golf Club on Pawleys Island has been playing host to both local golfers and those that converge on the Myrtle Beach area during peak golf seasons. This Ron Garl design is built on the site of a 16th century rice plantation and opened for play in 1996. Tradition Club has received numerous accolades, including South Carolina Golf Course of the Year in 2001, and has been awarded 4.5-stars by Golf Digest as well as voted “Top Fairways” for 1998 by Golf for Women. Tradition Club was also nominated as Best New Public Course by Golf Digest in 1996. It is truly one of the most prestigious golf clubs with public access in the Myrtle Beach area.

Also on property is an impressive practice complex. These are becoming a Ron Garl trademark and one that he has duplicated at several of the other courses he has designed/redesigned around the world. It includes a spacious full-length driving range, a massive chipping green and a putting green with multiple elevation changes so that you can get an idea of the breaks you will encounter during your round. With over 6,800 yards of golf course in front of you at Tradition Club, arrive early and take full advantage of this wonderful practice facility.

Tradition Club is located in the same general area as several other Waccamaw Golf Trail Courses: Willbrook Plantation, River Club and Litchfield Country Club. Five sets of tees provide playable distances for any level of golfer. The Tournament Tees play 6,875 yards and carry a course rating of 73.2 and a slope of 134; a fitting test for low handicappers. The Men’s Tees weigh in at 6,313 (70.8/125) while Ladies have the choice of two distances, the Gold (Senior/Ladies’) play 5,728 (73.1/124 for the ladies’) or the Red (5,189/70.4/120). There is also a ‘junior” set of tees that plays 4,106 with a course rating of 63.5 and a slope of 105.

As you make your way around Tradition Club, you will see how the course communes with nature. Meticulously maintained fairways wind their way through maritime forests and pristine wetlands. Many fairways are lined with live oaks and towering pines, yet there is ample room off the tee to swing away and go for broke.

Tradition Golf ClubRon Garl seems to be a big fan of island greens and Tradition Club does not disappoint. In fact, you’ll have two opportunities to test your mettle on Number 7 and Number 15. Number 7 is a par 4, so you can’t use a tee on your approach shot. Water is present on about 9 holes but is really only a factor on 4 of those, two of which are the island greens.

The bunkers at Tradition Club are well maintained and filled with fine sugary sand. Most are low-lipped and don’t provide any added penalty. A number of holes feature large waste bunkers that are well groomed and add to the overall beauty of the course.

As nice as the course is, Tradition Club is defined by its well-conditioned Bermuda greens. Some have gentle undulations and subtle breaks while others are well-sloped from back to front. All roll fast, true and consistent.

Member’s Favorite Holes:

I spoke with a number of members who had varying opinions on their favorite hole, so we narrowed it down to two.

Tradition Golf ClubNumber 5: Par 3, 179 yards (Men’s Tees). A challenging par 3 that’s got it all – in the way of hazards. From the tee, you need to carry both water and sand; there’s more sand right of the green if you push your shot. The green is shallow – only 29 yards deep, so distance control – and a good putting stroke on this well-contoured green – are essential if you want to score well. Walk away with a par and be happy.

Number 7: Par 4, 377 yards (Men’s Tees). One of two island greens on the course; only you can’t use a tee to reach this one. Long ball hitters will find it best to leave the driver in the bag here; you run out of fairway at about 300 yards from the back tees. You’ll need superior distance control on your approach shot into this island green with a large bunker left. A back-right pin can be a challenge with all of the mounding.

Writer’s Favorite:

Number 10: Par 5, 510 yards (Men’s Tees). A long dogleg left that just seems to keep on turning. There’s a large waste bunker all the way down the left side of the fairway, so favor the right side off the tee and with your approach shot. The large fairway bunker of the right side can’t be seen off the tee and shouldn’t come into play. A good drive followed by a well-placed layup will leave a short pitch into a green that slopes severely from back to front and is protected on the left side by the waste bunker. Mounding in the fairway can produce some interesting lies!

Pro’s Pick:

Number 1: Par 4, 323 yards (Men’s Tees). A short, yet trying par 4 to get your round under way. A gentle dogleg right with a large waste bunker on the right side. Find this bunker off the tee and not only will you have to deal with a sand shot of about 100 yards, you’ll have to carry it over several large oak trees. Playing down the left side of this well-mounded fairway leaves a cleaner look into the green with only a single bunker on the left side to contend with.

The other island green is worth mentioning as well. Number 15 is a par 3 that plays 157 yards from the men’s tees. Clear the water onto the largest green on the course with trouble on all sides. Another short hole where par is a good score.

Last Word:

To score well at the Tradition Club, you need to have your complete game together. Out here, it’s all about shot placement: how far to hit it and where to put it. For the most part, the greens are well protected by sand and/or water. If your approach shots are not dead on, you could be in for a long day. Being able to work the ball – left or right as well as trajectory – is a big plus too. The greens run fast and true, so a consistent putting stroke is a big plus. Most are raised and feature modest undulation. The two island greens add some excitement to an already fun round of golf. You should be able to get around the course in about four hours, which is nice. The course also drains very well so if other courses in the area are closed after a good rain storm, give Tradition Club a call. There’s a good chance they are open and playable. And not cart path only!

Tradition Golf ClubAfter your round, stop by the grill room for some traditional clubhouse food and all of your favorite post-round libations. Tradition Club also has one of the best-stocked pro shops in the area with all kinds of logoed apparel from all of the top names. Be sure to browse around and take home a memento. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and always willing to help.

Tradition Club is a proud member of the Waccamaw Golf Trail, America’s most awarded golf trail. For more information on the Tradition Club and the Waccamaw Trail, or to book your next golf vacation to the Myrtle Beach area, visit their website at http://www.waccamawgolftrail.com/courses/show/the-tradition-club/

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

River Club at Litchfield

River Club at Litchfield

River Club at LitchfieldRiver Club is a Tom Jackson creation that has been delighting – and frustrating – golfers in the Myrtle Beach area since it opened in 1985. Over the years, it has received numerous accolades, including 4.5 Stars from Golf Digest’s “Places to Play”, and having two holes named to the Myrtle Beach Sun News’ 100 Greatest Golf Holes Along the Grand Strand; the 14th and 18th. More on those two holes later.

River Club is located in Pawleys Island, about 20 miles south of Myrtle Beach and exemplifies everything Lowcountry golf is about. Built on the site of a former rice plantation, golfers will encounter pristine wetlands, maritime forests, Spanish moss-draped trees, abundant wildlife, over 100 sand traps and bunkers and lots of water, both natural and manmade. In fact, water comes into play on at least 14 holes. While the course is aesthetically pleasing, it can present a challenge to just about any caliber of golfer.

River Club at LitchfieldFrom the Black Tees, River Club plays 6,677 yards with a course rating of 72.3 and a slope of 134. The White Tees (6,240/70.2/127) provide a great challenge with some allowance to exit the facility with a little bit of dignity. Seniors can choose to play from the Gold Tees (5,807/68.4/120) and Ladies will be tested from the Red Tees (5,084/68.8/122). Pick the tees that best suit your game and you’re likely to really enjoy yourself.

My Favorite: Number 6, Par 5, 477 yards. If you can reach the dogleg off the tee on this par 5 hole, you’ll set up yet another risk/reward opportunity. It will require a drive of at least 255 yards from the White Tees and set up a manageable 223-yard approach over water to a slightly elevated green. Should you choose the three-shot route, beware of the fairway bunkers that dot the left side of the fairway and protect the back of the green.

Members’ Favorite: Number 14, Par 3, 149 yards (White Tees). I’m not surprised the members chose a par 3 as their favorite hole, for some reason a lot of golfers seem to think that par 3 holes are the easiest holes on the course. Number 14 is anything but; it features an island green fronted by four sand traps that catch anything hit short. The green holds the ball quite well, although a back-left pin position can prove to be very trying. There’s no way to get on the green without hitting over the water at some point. Number 14 will test both accuracy and distance control. Par is a good score here

Staff’s Favorite:

River Club at LitchfieldNumber 18, Par 5, 493 yards (White Tees). As I mentioned earlier 18th hole was one of two holes named as one of the Grand Strand’s 100 most memorable holes by the Sun News. I spoke with several members of the staff who all gave number 18 the nod as their favorite hole, now I understand why. It’s a par 5 that plays 493 yards from the White Tees and is considered one of the harder holes on the inward nine. My guess is that the water that makes up the entire left side of the fairway has something to do with that. If you can manage to find the thin peninsula of fairway that sticks out just past the fairway bunker, you’ll leave yourself a little over 200 yards to the green; a manageable distance, or at least worth the effort. The way the hole is shaped and the green is set up, you’re most likely going to have to go over the water at some point or another, so it’s well worth the risk. Find the trap off the tee, and your chances of getting on in two diminish greatly, as I found out. The green is set at an odd angle and, if you’re playing Number 18 as a three-shot hole, it’s much wider than it is deep. In any event, par is always a good way to end the round.

Last Word:

Because land is at a premium in this area, there is no formal driving range; pre-round warmup is limited to hitting into nets. However, there is a very large chipping and practice putting green, so no driving range is not a valid excuse for a bad first couple of holes.

The majority of golf holes out here have ample room off the tee, giving you the opportunity to keep it in the fairway. River Club is more about second shots, whether it’s sticking it close to the pin on some of the shorter par 4s or setting up your approach shot on the par 5s. What you see is what you get; there are no hidden surprises such as water hazards, pot bunkers or unexpected rough in an otherwise inviting landing area. Execute your second shot on each hole and you’ll be well rewarded. The greens are receptive and conducive to making putts, but you have to put the ball in the right spot.

River Club at LitchfieldWith water infringing on so many holes, accuracy and proper club selection is essential to shooting a favorable score as is the ability to hit a variety of shots. If that’s not enough, there’s more than 100 traps to contend with. As a matter of fact, if you can make your way around River Club with the ball you started with and never having to hit out of the sand, you’ve accomplished something – hopefully a low score.

River Club is a proud member of the Waccamaw Golf Trail. For more information or to book your next round, visit the Waccamaw Trail website at http://www.waccamawgolftrail.com/courses/show/river-club.


Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

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