Golf is what guests at the Grande Dunes Resort Course are playing, but the name of the game for the propertys employees is service.
Players at the 10-year-old Roger Rulewich design are greeted with the Myrtle Beach markets highest standards of amenities, treatment and course conditions.
Its a class act, said Kerry Ortmeyer of North Myrtle Beach, a retired golf course superintendent who took part in a review of Grande Dunes in late October. It has great service and it sets itself apart with its service.
Joining me and Kerry, a 3 handicap, in the review foursome were Kerrys wife Janis, a retired teacher with a 21 handicap, and Yoshio Yamamoto of Myrtle Beach, a touring pro who is a member of the NGA Hooters Tour.
In addition to the longest course in the market at 7,578 yards from the gold back tees, Grande Dunes offers locker rooms with showers and complimentary mouthwash, lotion and slippers; a full lunch menu; a dining room with two flat-screen TVs; and a bar and lounge with four flat-screen TVs.
Carts are equipped with a GPS system, club and ball washer, towels, tees and a cooler filled with ice and two water bottles. The club also provides post-round club cleaning and shuttle service to and from the affiliated Marina Inn hotel.
The facilities, the décor, furnishings and the quality of everything, its well done, Janis said. I like the ambiance of Grande Dunes with the [Intracoastal] Waterway close by and tremendous views, and the food is good.
The amenities are among the reasons the course was named the 2009 National Golf Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners Association.
The layout is also a factor, featuring five holes alongside the Waterway and length that allows for six sets of tees and leads to an outrageous 77.1 course rating.
Its a pretty good challenge from any tee you play, especially from the tips, said Yoshio, who played the 7,183-yard black tees. Its a great golf course. You never get the same look to a hole. Its a great challenge that makes you be creative on how you approach the course. Its fun.
The topography of Grande Dunes along the western bluffs of the Waterway creates valleys and uphill and downhill shots. It has some terrain change, and a lot of courses around here are very flat, Janis said.
Greens featuring L93 bentgrass dont have severe slopes but are seldom flat and can be tricky. The greens are good, Yoshio said. All these greens you have to be on the correct side of the hole because there are so many slopes, though some of them are mild. I love how you have to be careful where you hit your shot to have the best chance to make the putt.
The group was impressed with the course conditions and professionalism of the staff. You can tell they want you to have a good time and enjoy your game, Yoshio said. The service even goes down to the cart girl.
Yoshio appreciated the location of the course off U.S. 17 in the heart of Myrtle Beach. Its right in the middle of everything, he said.
Kerry enjoyed the wide landing areas on most par-4s and par-5s, and thought the greens provided good targets.
Janis found the course to be women-friendly despite a formidable length of 5,353 yards from the red tee, including three par-5s measuring more than 440 yards.
The lack of reflectors on top of pins to assist range finders was considered a deficiency. A high-end facility should have those, Kerry said. Those prisms on the flags are inexpensive items. Everybody uses range finders now.
Kerry and Yoshio thought the greens were on the soft side, which promoted footprints, ball marks not fixed or not fixed properly, and scuff marks which led to putts going offline occasionally, Kerry said.
Janis prefers to play Grande Dunes in calm conditions, considering the many holes exposed along the Intracoastal. It was very windy, making club selection and shot-making difficult at times, she said.
The 209-yard second hole measures 187 from the black and 137 from the white. It has water to the front and right of a wide green that falls off from a mild mound front middle, and there are two wide bunkers behind the green. There is plenty of bailout room to the left.
The 241-yard eighth measure 217 from the black and 155 from the white. A shallow green sits above a pond in front and the waterway behind, with a bunker to the right. It slopes to the left from the center and funnels to the front on the right side.
The 220-yard 14th measures 209 from the black and 158 from the white. Anything to the right of the green falls off to the Waterway, and the green is backed by mounding, fronted by a wide and deep bunker, and has a bailout area to the left. A collection pond fronts the green, which slopes to the left and right from a middle ridge. The par-3s are very scenic, especially the eighth and 14th holes with Waterway views, Janis said.
The 190-yard 11th measures approximately 174 from the black and 124 from the white. Ninety degrees of tee boxes offer several angles to a relatively flat green, but all must carry a waste bunker. They are great par-3s, Yoshio said. Its a good mix. There are a couple of average yardage of between 175 and 200 yards, and a few longer and demanding ones over 200 yards.
Only the sixth hole featuring a bunker in the middle of the fairway and another to the right measures less than 400 yards from the black tees at 353, and par-4s measure between 305 and 400 yards from the white tees.
I hit anything from a lob wedge to a 3-wood into par-4s, Yoshio said. A lot of the holes require you to be precise off the tee in order to have the best angle into a green.
The third and fifth holes have water on at least two sides of the green and one greenside bunker apiece, and both the ninth and 10th holes run above the Waterway to their left and feature valleys in front of elevated greens.
The 16th hole is straightforward with a 60-yard deep and narrow green, and the 18th hole doglegs left around a bunker and trees and features a slightly downhill approach to a green surrounded by four bunkers and water to its back and right.
A variety of par-4 holes in length and shape made the course interesting, Janis said.
Par-5s measure between 539 and 548 yards from the black, yet the fourth hole is the only par-5 measuring more than 500 yards from the white tee at 506.
The 566-yard fourth turns right around a water hazard. A big drive challenging the water can provide a shot at the green, which turns into the water to the right, but the fairway slopes toward the bulkheaded hazard.
The 571-yard seventh measures 495 from the white. Water pinches the fairway on the left on the tee shot, a pond on the right stops 135 yards from the green, and another pond on the left begins 120 yards from the green and runs past it. A long bunker sits to the right of a wide green that slopes to the front.
The 560-yard 13th measures 499 from the white and features a drive to a wide downhill fairway. The second shot must carry marsh, and an elevated green is set into mounds on the left and rises above a bunker front left and a bailout fairway to the right.
If youre downwind you can maybe get to the green in two, Yoshio said. If its into the wind it can be a good shot to reach the fairway over the marsh in two. If you dont hit a good drive you cant carry the hazard on the second shot.
The 578-yard 17th measures 477 from the white and has a wide creek down the entire left side of the fairway that must be crossed off the tee and crowds the front of the green.
All of the par-5s are risk-reward depending on how you play the hole, Yoshio said. Going for a green in two is definitely risk-reward because all of the greens have a hazard right off the green or deep bunkers surrounding the greens. You dont have to hit the green in two to make a birdie but you definitely want to go for it when you get the chance.
The par-3 14th hole was among the favorite holes of the entire group.
Kerry also enjoyed the 452-yard first hole, which measures 396 from the white tee and features a tee shot that has to split water on the right and housing on the left. The green rises above a front right bunker. Its a strong starting hole into the wind, said Kerry, who also thought the par-5 13th was a strong par-5 that also played into the wind.
Janis favorite holes were the par-4 ninth and par-3 eighth and 14th holes, mainly because of the scenery. The par-3s have tee shots over water giving the golfer some excitement and thrills, she said. From my angle on 14 it was like I was hitting into the Waterway.
Of 8 and 14, Yoshio said: Both are next to the Waterway, which makes them intimidating, and both are long holes that require a solid shot to find the green.
Least favorite holes
Kerrys least favorite hole was the par-4 ninth along the Waterway. This hole has always bugged me, Kerry said. Today it was into a strong wind leaving me 220 yards out. On normal days I always leave my tee shot on the severe down slope, which makes the shot into the green very difficult.
Janis found the 468-yard par-4 15th hole, which measured 355 yards from the red tee, challenging with the angle of the green being difficult for me, she said. The hole has the Waterway to the right, where a pair of fairway bunkers also await, a fairway valley that can be reached with a big drive with a large oak at its base thats visible from the tee, and an uphill approach shot to a green guarded by the Waterway right and bunker front right.
Yoshios least favorite hole was the 449-yard par-4 12th, which measured 411 yards from the black tee. It has mounding on both sides of the fairway, a right fairway bunker and bunker front left of a green that slopes to the front from the middle. Its not a bad hole, its just straightforward and doesnt feel like youre playing the same course, Yoshio said.
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