A round at Lockwood Folly Country Club will have you guessing and gawking.
The guessing comes off the tee, as the 6,657-yard Willard Byrd design requires less than driver on several holes and forces you to make strategic decisions.
The gawking comes as you observe the stunning views of the Lockwood Folly River and Intracoastal Waterway around the 18th green and an in-progress clubhouse, and an array of wildlife that is rare on area courses.
A large hawk makes a pine tree in the parking lot home and greets visiting golfers with its loud screeches, and a family of bald eagles consisting of two parents and two chicks makes a huge nest off the 15th fairway home.
“I loved the nature, and I loved the views of the course, especially the final hole,” said Tyler Light of Lantana, Texas, a professional mini-tour player who took part in a review of the course in late January. “It’s an enjoyable course to play. You had your easy birdie holes and tough holes where you just get your par and get out. I could play this course multiple times and not get bored.”
Joining me and Tyler in the review foursome were Rick Spada of Sunset Beach, N.C., a retired high school social studies teacher with a 17.4 handicap, and his wife Mo, a retired librarian and 17.5 handicap.
“This course is fun to play. You don’t ever get tired of playing it,” Mo said. “The layout is pretty creative. It forces you to be creative because of the shapes of the holes and they’re attractive. It’s an older course with lots of old oak trees. It’s a great golf course.”
The 28-year-old semi-private course is one of the few member-owned courses around the Grand Strand, and offers the tranquility you might expect from a lengthy drive from Myrtle Beach.
“It’s out of the way, quiet and low key,” Mo said. “It has an old Carolinas feel, and the people here are very nice and accommodating. For being a small course you don’t really see other holes.”
The course has a number of doglegs and hazards that shorten fairways. “You have to think your way around the course in certain parts, and you must leave yourself in good spots on the greens,” Tyler said. “There’s a wide variety of holes. It had some easy par-5s, tough par-3s and good par-4s. You must be accurate off the tee and the greens are tough with a lot of slope.”
Several doglegs provide opportunities to shorten the course, particularly for long hitters. “You can cut corners if you want to go for it,” Mo said.
You can run into trouble on the course without full knowledge of the layout because of the slopes of fairways combined with the placement of bunkers and water. “Strategic placement of bunkers on both fairways and around greens require good selection of clubs and shots,” Rick said.
The course was not overseeded for the winter, so for a few months it is featuring brown, dormant grass on all but the greens, which are colored. “The dormant fairways, green and rough are not real attractive but they don’t detract from the playability of the course and I don’t mind it,” Rick said.
Conversely, Mo found the dormancy affected her game. “The lies were very tight and slippery,” Mo said. “It’s tough to hit off the dormant grass.”
Lockwood Folly’s greens generally have multiple slopes and were slick. “The greens are good,” Tyler said. “They don’t really have different levels, it’s more spines and ridges throughout so you have to pay attention.”
Planned renovations through this summer include a changing of the greens to Sunday ultradwarf Bermudagrass from TifDwarf Bermuda, and building of a 15,000-square-foot clubhouse overlooking the river and waterway.
The course has great drainage, as we were permitted to ride carts on fairways. “This course is well known for being dry,” Mo said. “Everywhere is cart path-only right now, but here is not. It drains really well. It’s usually in great shape.”
Mo liked the descriptive granite tee markers on tee boxes and the way neighborhoods were built around the layout. “The houses aren’t intrusive,” she said. “They’re in the trees and aren’t on top of you.”
The group enjoyed the abundant scenery and wildlife. “It has scenic views on the water,” Mo said. Added Rick: “The eagle and his nest on No. 15 are special.”
Tyler appreciated the difficulty of the greens. “I very much enjoyed how the hole wasn’t over when you got on the green, you had to pay attention on the greens” he said.
There are six tee boxes that give women, seniors and juniors several options.
The only restroom on the front nine is a portable toilet, as the first built bathroom is on the 10th hole and another is on the 14th. “Toilet placement needs improvement,” Rick said.
Mo and Rick found the brown dormant Bermuda wall-to-wall less attractive than overseeding. “The drab colors and tight nap of dormant fairways detracted a bit,” Rick said. “I sweep the ball and without much cushion beneath it makes it easy to top a ball.”
Tyler was disappointed the halfway house wasn’t staffed so food could be purchased since the layout doesn’t go past the clubhouse at the turn. He also found the dormant greens to be “a tad bumpy but very quick,” with occasional small tufts of intrusive grass.
The course has a pin sheet with four sections, and with the size of some greens Tyler would have preferred six sections for increased accuracy.
Par-3s are at least 172 yards and measure between 159 and 178 yards from the white tees. “The par-3s are fantastic,” Tyler said. “The shortest is about 170 and [three] are about 200 yards and have small greens. I always like a challenge.”
The 194-yard second hole features tee shots through trees and over wetlands, with the back blue tees alone and the remaining tees farther to the right. The longest tee to the right is built up with a stone wall and the green slopes to the front and left. “The second hole requires you to hit almost out of a chute,” Tyler said. “It’s very cool looking.”
The 211-yard sixth has bunkers left and right and water farther to the right of a green with a diagonal ridge running through its middle.
The 172-yard 11th has a bulkheaded pond right and short right of a green that slopes toward the water. The 192-yard 16th has water 30 yards short of a green that slopes mildly to the front and is protected by bunkers left and right.
The par-3s measured between 102 and 139 yards from the red tees. “Par-3s were long and required a utility wood or long hybrid,” Mo said. They were between 124 and 164 from the gold. “They all played longer than the yardage indicates and because of my lack of distance they were hard to play,” Rick said.
Only three par-4s are 400 yards or longer and five are less than 380. “There’s a wide variety of par-4s,” Tyler said. “There were par-4s were I could bust driver over the corner and other par-4s where I had to plot my way around.”
The 426-yard first hole is a dogleg left around a bunker in the landing area with a green that slopes to the left, and the 374-yard fifth is a dogleg left with water beginning 140 yards from the a rolling green. The 389-yard eighth hole curls slightly left with a creek down the entire left side, and the 361-yard ninth is a dogleg left with water at the back of the bend 120 yards from a green protected by bunkers left, right and front.
The 435-yard 12th is a slight dogleg left with water on the left side of the fairway beginning 180 yards from a green that slopes slightly left toward the water with a pair of bunkers to its right. The 412-yard 13th curls right with fairway bunkers left and right and greenside bunkers left, right and front.
The 364-yard 14th features a green surrounded by bunkers, the 385-yard 15th is a sharp dogleg left and the 378-yard 17th turns slightly left with water to the left of the green.
Only one par-4 was shorter than 270 from the red tees. “Many par-4s were tough for me to reach in two so chipping and putting were important,” Mo said.
Par-5s measure between 463 and 526 yards from the back tees and offer scoring opportunities, and are all less than 500 yards from the white tees. “The par-5s all seemed fair with lots of risk if you let your shots get away from you,” Rick said. “Good shots result in good scores.”
The 463-yard third hole has long bunkers down the entire right side and a couple on the left, leading to a green that slopes to the front with a middle ridge. The 521-yard seventh has water coming into the fairway from the right on both the drive and second shot, a tree along its banks to avoid and a green that is higher in the back and is protected by bunkers left, right and short right. “The seventh makes up for the first par-5 in difficulty,” Tyler said.
The 526-yard 10th has water and bunkers on the right side of the landing area off the tee, and the green has multiple knobs and slopes toward a front pond from the middle.
The 486-yard 18th is a dogleg right around a pond, large pond behind it and tree line up the right side. A bulkheaded pond awaits right and front right of a green that slopes toward it and is backed by a few hardwoods, the river and waterway.
The entire group enjoyed the 18th. It measures 386 yards from the red tees. “It’s a nice, reachable par-5 with a view of the Intracoastal Waterway from a green that is surrounded by oak trees,” Mo said.
It measured 409 yards from the gold tee. “It’s a great hole,” Rick said. “Water to the right required a good drive, water to the right required a good second shot, and the left-to-right slope of the green required a good approach.”
Of 18, Tyler said, “I love the older trees and views on the last hole. It’s a great finishing hole. It’s risk-reward off the tee and risk-reward if you want to challenge the green in getting there in two.”
Tyler also appreciated the course’s three-hole start. “You have a par-4 where you can’t just blast it and have to work the ball a little with the dogleg, then you have a good long par-3 followed by a gettable par-5,” Tyler said.
Least favorite holes
The 365-yard fourth hole was identified as the entire group’s least favorite hole, with water on the right side beginning about 150 yards from the green leaving very little fairway that slopes toward the water to its left, and a leaning tree impacting approach shots from the left side.
The fourth measured 294 yards from the red tee. “The pond comes into play with the tee shot but the layup area is 150 yards out,” Mo said, “and a tree to the left blocks the green on the approach.”
The hole measured 328 yards from the gold. “It’s a real test,” Rick said. “Trees on the left required playing to the right, and the fairway sloping right towards water forced tough club selection and exacting shots.”
Tyler also wasn’t a fan of the par-5 seventh hole because water angles in from the right to greatly narrow the landing area for big hitters. “It requires a very accurate tee ball,” Tyler said. “At about 315 yards the landing zone is 15 yards wide and if you hit the fairway you still have about 250 yards in.”
Lockwood Folly Country Club
19 Clubhouse Drive SW
Holden Beach, NC 28462
DIRECTIONS: From Myrtle Beach, take US 17 about 20 miles into North Carolina, turn right onto Red Bug Road SW and follow until it ends in a mile. Turn left onto Holden Beach Road and follow for 8 miles. Turn right onto Stone Chimney Road for a half mile. Turn left onto Clubhouse Drive SW, turn right at the end of the road and the course is on the right.
COURSE OPENED: 1988
COURSE DESIGNERS: Willard Byrd
PRIVATE OR PUBLIC: Semi-private
PRO SHOP PHONE: 910-842-5666, 877-562-9663
WEB SITE: www.lockwoodfolly.com
GREENS FEE: Ranges from $39-$69 (email club specials)
HEAD PROFESSIONAL: Eric Morgan
COURSE SUPERINTENDENT: J.D. Franck
WALKING: Members only
GREENS: TifDwarf Bermudagrass
CLUBHOUSE: Temporary clubhouse includes pro shop, bar, snack bar and grill, dining room, restrooms.
PRACTICE FACILITY: Driving range, practice putting green with chipping allowed, lessons available.
SPECIAL AMENITY: Carts equipped with ball/club washers.
COURSE RATINGS: Blue: 73.6; White: 71.0-men, 76.6-women; Orange: 70.2-m, 75.4-w; Gold: 68.3-m, 73.3-w; Red: 71.1; Green 70.0
SLOPE RATINGS: Blue: 140; White: 130-men, 145-women; Orange: 123-m, 140-w; Gold: 116-m, 134-w; Red: 122; Green: 113
All scores are based on a scale of 1-5.
1-poor; 2-satisfactory; 3-solid/average;
4-very good; 5-the best
Home: Sunset Beach, N.C.
Birthplace: Kerhonkson, N.Y.
Occupation: Retired high school social studies teacher
Tees played: 5,406-yard gold
Highlight: Upon exiting his car in the parking lot, hearing a loud hawk call and watching it fly into its nest above his car.
Home: Sunset Beach, N.C.
Birthplace: Ellenville, N.Y.
Occupation: Retired librarian
Tees played: 4,919-yard red
Highlight: Watching Tyler carry a drive 320 yards to clear water on the par-5 fifth hole en route to birdie, and making par on the same hole.
Home: Lantana, Texas
Birthplace: Massillon, Ohio
Occupation: Pro golfer
Tees played: 6,657-yard blue
Highlight: Seeing a bald eagle perched on a tree limb on the 15th hole. “That was pretty cool.”
Home: Myrtle Beach
Birthplace: Lisbon, Maine
Occupation: Golf writer
Tees played: 6,046-yard white
Highlight: Making a 25-foot downhill birdie putt on the 477-yard par-5 10th hole.