There are strokes to be gained at Meadowlands Golf Club, but few of them will come on the course’s par-4s.
They are the teeth of the challenging 7,054-yard Willard Byrd design that opened in 1997, as the 382-yard 17th is the only par-4 among the course’s 10 that is less than 400 yards.
“It’s just a challenging course,” said Chris Williams of North Myrtle Beach, owner of Williams Golf Cart sales and an 8-handicap who participated in a review of Meadowlands in late July. “If you want to see how good of a golfer you are, come out here and play tips, especially if there is some wind.”
Joining me and Chris in the review foursome were Brandon Suggs of Little River, a 22-handicap who owns Sunblockers glass tinting, and Kelly Gilbert of Myrtle Beach, a retired journalist who carries a handicap of 24.
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There are five par-4s longer than 425 yards, capped by the 480-yard third hole, which is followed by a par-5 that is just 4 yards longer. Strokes can potentially be made up on par-5s, as three are shorter than 520 yards, though just one par-3 is less than 189 yards.
“It has a nice mix of holes, I think,” Kelly said. “Some are hard and some are easy. Some par-4s were a bit long for me, so I was tested constantly, but competent shot-making makes par doable. So does good course management.
“The course is very playable, challenging and in good condition.”
Most fairways are tree-lined on the former farmland, with ponds coming into play throughout a layout with a handful of doglegs left and right. While bunkers aren’t abundant, they are present around every green and add challenge to many drives.
Mildly rolling fairways and greens that are tiered, undulating or sloping add to Meadowlands’ difficulty.
“This has elevation shots, hilly side-hill lie shots and rough,” Chris said. “Then you get on the greens and they’re two-tiered – a lot of them – with slopes and slants. You can hit a good shot into a pin location and get nothing. And there are some tight fairways and it’s long.”
The TifEagle Bermudagrass greens that were regressed last summer rolled very nicely and with a good pace. “I loved the fast greens, which rolled true everywhere,” Kelly said.
Greens didn’t allow much flag-hunting. “The greens are somewhat hard and the ball is rolling out, so you can’t fly it to the flag,” Chris said. “You have to land it short of the hole.”
Not much housing comes into play on the layout. “It’s pretty open,” Brandon said. “If you hit a bad shot there was a lot of room to recover.”
The course eases a bit on the back nine, as the front is more than 150 yards longer than the back from the tips and approximately 200 yards longer from both the 6,591-yard blue and 6,080-yard white tees.
Chris liked the green speeds and views of the fairways from the back tee boxes, and admired the setting around the farmhouse-like clubhouse, including a back patio on the water. “They have nice amenities for functions and tournaments in the spring and fall,” he said.
Kelly was appreciative of ample landing areas from the senior tees. “The fairways on most holes seem pretty generous and I appreciate that,” he said. “They’re accommodating even if you’re spraying some shots.”
Kelly also appreciated that “the practice green accurately reflected green speed on the course,” and the driving range had measured flags as targets.
Brandon liked minimal housing around the holes and the rolling terrain.
Chris and Brandon found the greens to be a little too firm for them, and Chris found there to be more chance in lies in fairways and greens than he would prefer. “The fairways are hilly and can catch a good downhill lie or side-hill lie if you’re not precise, and the green slopes can leave tricky putts after good shots,” said Chris, who also found few places to land shots around several greens.
Kelly didn’t appreciate a few long forced carries over water hazards.
Par-3s measure between 160 and 206 from the tips and between 149 and 188 from the blue tees. “There are no gimme par-3s,” Brandon said. “They all have a fair amount of length.”
The 198-yard fifth has a pair of stacked bunkers to the left of a green that slopes sharply to the front and right and also falls off the back left. The 189-yard eighth is over water and has five bunkers around the green, though the two behind the green can’t be seen with two high-lipped front bunkers and a mound in between blocking the view.
The 206-yard 11th has four bunkers around a green that is benign other than sloping off to the left, right and back. The 160-yard 15th also has four bunkers around a green that is open in front, slightly rolling and slightly elevated.
Par-3s have some of the more shallow greens on the course. “The size of the greens with high-lipped bunkers guarding the front and sides, and tiered greens for difficult putts make them difficult,” Chris said.
Five par-4s are 400 yards or longer from the blue tees, including two of the tougher par-4s in the area. The 480-yard third hole is 455 from the blue and requires a carry of 245 yards over a creek from the back tee, then second shot over water to a green with a deep hollow front right. There are bailout areas to the left and right side of the water.
“It is definitely a baby par-5,” Chris said. “I’ve never had the wind to my back on this hole, either. It’s always in your face.”
The 432-yard sixth measures 409 from the blue and has trees and water left, with the water cutting across the front of a green that has a false front, as well as a creek to the right. “That hole is a tough one,” Chris said.
A challenging tee shot greets players on the tee of the 416-yard first hole, which turns left around a pond with trees down the right side narrowing the landing area. A deep green slopes to the front and left. “It’s long and challenging,” Chris said. “The tee shot is pretty tight for an opening hole.”
The 430-yard second hole also doglegs left around a pond and has a trio of bunkers around a green that slopes sharply to the back from a back-middle ridge. The slight dogleg left 449-yard 12th has three bunkers around the landing area off the tee, and the 402-yard 10th and 382-yard 17th have cross bunkers deep in landing areas.
“The course had a few par-4s that play very long, especially if the wind is in your face,” Brandon said.
Three of the par-5s measure 481 yards or less from the blue tees. “Three out of four are reachable in two but if you don’t hit precise shots into greens it could prove to be difficult because of the trouble guarding greens,” Chris said.
The 484-yard fourth hole features a pair of fairway bunkers right, three bunkers at or near the right side of the green and water pinching the fairway about 50 yards from the green on the left. The green slops mildly front and right.
The 566-yard ninth has water down the entire left side, small trees on the right that influence second shots from the right side of the fairway, and a green with water left, three bunkers right and a small mound in its left-center. “The par-5s are forgiving and are well designed,” Brandon said.
The dogleg-right 519-yard 14th has a green that is slightly crowned, but can yield birdies, especially if the pin isn’t tucked behind a front left bunker – one of just two bunkers on the hole. The 502-yard 18th is a dogleg right with water crossing a mounded fairway 350 yards from the back tee box. Trees to the right of the green can affect approach shots, as can bunkers to its left and right.
“The par-5s were easier for me than the longer par-4s,” Kelly said. “All of them were nicely laid out.”
Brandon’s favorite hole was the par-5 18th, which measured 466 yards from the blue tee. “It’s a great finishing hole and it’s reachable in two,” Brandon said.
Chris’ favorite hole was the par-3 fifth. “Being 202 to the center is challenging and with the slope on the green pars are valuable,” he said.
Kelly was partial to the par-3 eighth, which measured 132 yards from the gold tee and featured “a forced carry over a mound between bunkers to the green.” He also enjoyed the par-5 fourth hole – possibly influenced by the 51-foot par putt he holed – which measured 380 from the gold.
Least favorite holes
Brandon’s least favorite hole was the difficult par-4 third, which measured 455 yards from the blue tee. “It’s long and the wind being in our face made it even more challenging,” Brandon said.
Chris’ least favorite hole was the par-4 sixth because of the lack of options it offers. “There’s water and trees left with a bottleneck fairway and pond guarding the green, or miss right and find water, trees and OB,” he said. “The green is tiered and difficultly sloped.”
Kelly found the par-5 18th to be tough at 409 yards from the gold tee, and wasn’t fond of the par-4 third hole, which measured 351 from the gold. “I couldn’t reach it in regulation on my best day because of the length and water,” he said. “That’s one of the hardest par-4s I’ve ever played. What it took for me was three real good shots to get there. It’s ‘Get over the water off the tee and position yourself for a shot to the green and hope to one-putt.’ You have long carries and the wind is in your face.”