NORTH MYRTLE BEACH
A lot of what you need to know about the Dye Club at Barefoot Resort is in the name of the club, and the namesake of the club.
The handiwork of architect Pete Dye is evident at the 11-year-old course, where the terrain has been comprehensively altered to create a daunting and dramatic 7,343-yard par-72 challenge featuring elevation changes and striking hazards.
Your sentiment toward the Dye Club will ultimately depend on your opinion of Dye, since the course has typical Dye features and even amplifies some Dye design aspects.
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"It lived up to its reputation," said Curt Flater, a snowbird from Lake Orion, Mich., who participated in a review of the course in late February. "It's a difficult course and everything is a bit exaggerated.
"It's fun. You wouldn't want to play it every day, but standing on the tee it's intimidating in a good way."
Joining me and Curt, a retired General Motors IT manager with a 9 handicap who spends winters in Murrells Inlet, in the review foursome was his wife, Fran, and Joe Hackler of Myrtle Beach. Fran is a retired computer programmer with an 11 handicap, and Joe is a Spanish wine importer and former PGA of America pro with a 1 handicap who accepted the challenge of the back tees.
The course's length itself provides a test, particularly from the tips, which carry a course rating of 76.0 and slope of 146. Five par-4s measure more than 460 yards from the back tees.
The Dye Club has a vast array of sand traps, including waste, pot and sprawling bunkers. Many steal shots, while others add to the visual drama of the layout but seldom come into play.
Some fairways, as well as greens, are raised above trouble on one or both sides, adding to the penalty of wayward shots.
"Pete has a tendency to make you play angles all the time - where to place your drive, then your second shot, and where to try and put your ball on the green," Joe said. "You can hit some really good golf shots that you don't get much out of because you don't know the correct angle.
"There aren't that many holes that are nicely defined from the tee, at least not the tee I was playing."
Greens that are a combination of L93 and Crenshaw bentgrass are generally rolling, often times severely. "The greens are very contoured, so it is not always good to aim at the flagstick," Joe said.
The greens were still showing the effects of an extremely hot summer that scorched bent greens across the Southeast. "Some of the greens are a little scrappy looking, but they roll out very well and putt very well," Fran said.
Included in the obvious expense and detail put into the building of the course is the mixture of bentgrasses on the greens, Greg Norman-1 (GN-1) Bermudagrass in fairways, and other grasses including 419 Bermuda, TifDwarf Bermuda, Zoysia and Centipede in calculated areas.
The course's four tees include the 6,634-yard Championship black, 6,005-yard Member white and 5,021-yard forward tees. The forward yardage is formidable for women yet more than 2,300 yards shorter than the back tee, and there aren't many long carries over hazards so the course is playable for women and seniors. "The forward tees are fair," said Fran, who is a fan of Dye layouts. "I love Pete Dye courses so I obviously enjoyed this course."
Fran appreciated the playing tips her GPS provided at each tee box. "For a first-time player of the course I really thought the tips you receive on the tee are very helpful, guiding you where to hit it," she said.
She also liked the elevated greens and definition of fairways from the forward tee created by the mounding, trouble and elevation change around them.
Joe thought the bunkering was interesting and holes such as the long par-4 seventh and 14th holes offered "elevation definitions when the golfer is standing on the tee."
Curt enjoyed "the challenge of each shot," enjoyed the bentgrass greens, which are becoming scarce on the Grand Strand, and thought the course provided options on most shots.
With the plethora and variety of bunkers on and around the layout, Joe found the sand in bunkers around the greens to be inconsistent. "Some of the sand is compact and it's soft in other bunkers," he said.
Joe also generally prefers courses that are built into the natural landscape, and thought the many greens had excess undulation. "The pushed-up earth and bunkers are nice but when it's every single hole it's overdone," Joe said.
Curt thought the greens showed signs of "wear." Fran thought the "greens could be more defined and required some prior knowledge of where to hit," and also thought there should be a fifth tee box for seniors or stronger female players. "There's 1,000 yards difference between the forward and next set of tees - 5,400 would be nice for ladies," she said.
The par-3s measure between 185 and 227 from the tips, and forced Joe to hit an 8-iron, 5-iron and pair of 4-irons. They measure between 165 and 204 from the black. "The par-3s are very diverse and quite good," Joe said.
The 185-yard third hole, measuring 165 from the black, has mounding and bunkers to the right and a long bunker to the left of a very rolling green, with room to miss below the green to the left of the bunker. The 195-yard sixth, measuring 175 from the black, has water to the right and mounding and bunkers to the left of a fairly narrow, 33-yard deep green.
The 227-yard 15th measures 204 from the black and has a green that angles to the left and funnels to a hollow middle- to back-left. Anything short left is well below the green amidst bunkers, mounds and rough. Bunkers are also behind the green, and a bailout area is short right. The 188-yard 17th, measuring 175 from the black, has a snaky green surrounded by wetlands with a pair of small bunkers left, a high-lipped bunker fronting the back right portion of the putting surface, and bailout area short left.
The par-3s measured between 105 and 153 from the forward tee. "The par-3s are challenging but fair," Fran said. "There were a variety of lengths. Sometimes at other courses par-3s from the forward tees are too short."
The par-4s measure between 344 and 493 from the back tees, and 315 yards to 435 from the black. The 425-yard first hole turns slightly left over a waste bunker and is a moderate opening hole.
The 475-yard seventh has a 50-yard deep elevated green that plateaus back-left with bunkers amidst small mounds left of the green and a low waste area with vegetation right of it. It was the longest par-4 from the forward tee at 337 yards. "All of the par-4s were reachable with two good shots so they worked for me," Fran said.
The 493-yard ninth features a drive over a waste area. Water comes into play deep on the right side of the tee shot landing area and continues along the right side of a green that has a mild mound middle-left.
Both the 380-yard second and 461-yard 11th holes turn right with a drive over a waste area, and the 392-yard 13th is a rare straightforward hole with a waste bunker down the left side. The 475-yard 14th has a long waste bunker well below the fairway down the entire left side and a few penalizing bunkers on the right side.
The 471-yard 18th turns left around a lake that runs through the left side of a rolling green featuring a high-lipped bunker middle-right. "It's a beautiful finishing hole and a good finishing hole," Curt said. "I like the view from the tee and the approach shot."
The par-5s measured between 538 and 581 yards from the tips, and between 486 and 564 from the black, including two holes less than 500. "Again there's a variety of lengths," Curt said. "You can cut off as much of the doglegs as you want on most of them."
The 581-yard fifth is still a bear from the black tee at 564 and has a fairway framed on both sides by mounding with bunkers interspersed. The tee shot has to carry a waste area and the green is elevated 15 to 20 feet above a long bunker to its right.
The 543-yard eighth measures 486 from the black, turns right off the tee and slightly left near the green, with a pocket of bunkers in the middle of the fairway about 50 yards from the green. The drive has to carry a long waste bunker and red-staked natural area to the right of the fairway and water runs along the left side on the second and third shots.
The 538-yard 12th measures 494 from the black and has a slightly elevated green that is tucked behind mounds to the left and protected by a waste bunker on the left. The drive must avoid or carry a waste bunker on the right side of the fairway.
The 574-yard 16th is 526 from the black, and doglegs right off the tee after a drive over a waste area on the right. Bunkers and mounds come into the fairway on the right about 90 yards from the green, and a waste bunker with grass islands runs down the left side to the green.
"I loved the par-5s," Fran said. "They required at least two good shots out of three to reach the green."
Joe liked the 475-yard, par-4 seventh because of the view from the tee, and the short par-4 10th, which measured 344 yards from the tips, had water down the left side and mounding down the right side of a fairly narrow fairway, and a very elevated green angled to the left with trouble below the green along the left side and back.
"Ten is a good short hole and both holes are nicely defined from the tee," Joe said.
Fran appreciated the par-4 finishing hole. "Although I missed it left, it has a beautiful view from tee to green," she said.
Curt enjoyed the 15th. "There's a carry over waste bunkers and it's a dogleg if you can't carry it," he said. "It's very challenging."
Least favorite holes
Joe wasn't fond of the par-5 fifth and 12th holes because of the unnaturalness of the land. "I'm not too excited about 5 and 12," Joe said. "A lot of earth was moved, in some cases way too much."
Fran thought the par-4 seventh, measuring 337 yards from the forward tee, was "difficult with a narrow landing area for the tee shot."
Though he still enjoyed it, Curt's least favorite hole was the par-4 10th, which measured 315 yards from the blue tee and 287 from the white. "It seemed a bit different than all of the others," Curt said. "It took driver and even 3-wood out of play due to its length. You should hit an iron."
To view Blondin's blog, 'Green Reading', or Q&A Forum 'Ask Al,' go to TheSunNews.com.