There’s a lot more to shots into greens at Long Bay Club than locating a pin and firing away.
A lot of consideration should go into approach shots to greens that are narrow or shallow in some areas, have undulation that is occasionally tiered, and are universally well protected by often-penal bunkers and collection areas below the putting surfaces.
“You have to think on every shot,” said John Whitty of Longs, a senior mini-tour pro and trick shot artist. “I think it’s generous off the tee and you have to think about your second shot on every hole. Greens and surrounding areas require a lot of forethought to prevent large numbers. You have to know what side to hit it on.”
Joining me and John in a review of the Jack Nicklaus design in early March were Brian Rohrback of Little River, the owner of K&A Lighting and Supply and a 9 handicap, and snowbird Bob Washburn of Holiday Park, Penn., a retired Alcoa communications and public relations manager with a 21.2 handicap index.
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The 28-year-old course offers ample distance of 7,025 yards considering the greens are well protected, and has five tee boxes.
With a multitude of bunkers on most holes, it’s difficult to avoid them over the course of a round. Holes often framed by mounding or drivable waste bunkers, or both. Three holes have waste bunkers running along both sides of the fairway. “He sure does like waste bunkers,” Bob said.
Water can be a factor on a handful of holes. “Water comes into play on a number of holes, but not too much to be a problem,” Brian said.
Some shallow Champion ultradwarf Bermudagrass greens that can become firm, particularly in the summer, make it difficult to hold the putting surface on approach shots. The greens were relatively receptive on our round. “It’s real challenging. You know you’ve got to hit a high shot and hit it clean to hold the green,” John said.
The course was generally dry for our group coming out of a wet winter, as there were no cart restrictions.
“The course is in great condition and the greens putt true and are fast,” Brian said. “You must be below the pin. Downhill putts are quick.”
Added Bob, “The green speed was easy to gauge but determining the line was difficult.”
“It’s a Nicklaus course and you get what you come to expect on Nicklaus courses,” Bob said. “The par-3 design, bunker placement and greens that are deceptive but true, and you have to land a ball on the green to get it on them.”
Brian noted the effort that is obviously put into landscaping, including flower and plant beds at the entrance and in places throughout the layout. “I like the landscaping here,” Brian said. “The clubhouse is decorated nicely, the entrance is nice, tee boxes are nice, houses are nice and the yards are well-kept. Looking down the course it’s just an attractive course.”
Bob appreciated how the nearly fully-developed neighborhood fit around the layout. “I like the way they insulate the houses from the golf course, and they’re nice houses,” Bob said.
Long Bay has ample bag drop workers and on-course rangers, and our group found them to be very cordial. “I was impressed by the congeniality of the staff,” Bob said. “Everybody is friendly and helpful.”
Brian was weary of the sand by the end of the round. “This has way too many bunkers for me, considering how they are laid out surrounding the greens,” Brian said. “If your shots are off to the right or left, or even short or long, you can be penalized for a shot that isn’t bad. You can miss the green by a couple yards and you’re 6 feet deep in a bunker.
“And fairway bunkers are in the landing zone, which makes the fairway on some holes really narrow.”
Bob noted that the bunkers hadn’t been raked from the previous day, and as is often the case, earlier players left bunkers either not raked or improperly raked, and left ball marks on greens.
John could have done without deep fairway bunkers with high lips on the par-4 fourth and par-5 11th holes that are very penal. “If they were cut down to advance the ball to the 150 marker they’d be okay,” John said.
Par-3s measure between 156 and 203 yards from the back black tees, and between 123 and 170 from the middle white tees. “The par-3s are very scenic and a hair long from the back tees,” John said.
The slightly downhill 182-yard fifth has a penalizing front-left bunker that buffers a green that slopes to the right off a back mound from water. The 179-yard eighth has water lurking to the left of a long left bunker and has another bunker front right of a green that slopes to the front.
The 156-yard 13th has an island green that is among the flattest on the course and is fairly shallow on the left side. The pin can be tucked behind a front-right bunker. The green on the 203-yard 17th is nearly surrounded by bunkers and angles to the left behind a pair of them. “When that pin is on the left side the only way to hit to that pin is to hit a hook,” John said.
“I have always enjoyed Nicklaus par-3s. They are scenic and challenging and usually have a lot of variety,” Bob said. “The par-3s are challenging and rewarding – the way they’re set up it’s possible to be rewarded.”
All but three par-4s are longer than 400 yards and five are longer than 430.
The 408-yard first hole has a split fairway that is higher on the right and an elevated green that curls around a left-front bunker. “It’s a well-framed hole and there’s room to hit it and enough bailout area on the right to open the green up,” John said. “It’s not an easy hole though. It’s all about the second shot because the green complex is challenging.”
The 472-yard fourth has waste bunkers on both sides of the fairway and doglegs slightly around the one on the left side that begins 200 yards from a green that slopes to the front.
The 394-yard sixth has a tight landing area with a pine tree to the right affecting tee shots and three fairway bunkers down the left side. A two-tiered green is higher in the back and has a middle-right swale. The 370-yard ninth has water down the entire left side and bunkers left and right of a green sloping to the front.
The 352-yard 10th is a unique hole with a vast horseshoe waste bunker creating a peninsula fairway. The green elevates to the left of the bunkering and is protected by an additional deep front bunker.
The 432-yard 14th has a green that angles to the right with a long back bunker and four front pot bunkers. The 445-yard 18th turns left around a water hazard that is bulkheaded along the right side of a green that is also protected by a front right bunker.
“Par-4s are long and the bunkers make them challenging,” Brian said.
Because of the difficult green complexes, “the par-4s are too long from most tees for the average player,” John said.
Seven par-4s are longer than 325 from the gold tee. “Par-4s were difficult for me. I was glad to make a bogey,” Bob said. “I hit it 200 off the tee and was hitting a lot of 7-woods into greens or I was laying up in front of traps.”
Par-5s measure between 492 and 568 yards – three are longer than 540 – and they measure between 449 and 524 yards from the white tees. “The par-5s are the best holes on the course and are fair for any level of player,” Brian said.
The 568-yard second hole has a waste bunker that begins 125 yards from the green on the left side and cuts in front of the green, which is rolling, generally slopes to the left off a right plateau, and is protected by a pair of back bunkers.
The 543-yard seventh offers a risk-reward opportunity with a good drive. The green is behind water and a long waste bunker down the left side of the fairway and is protected by three more bunkers. There is bailout room to the right on second and third shots.
The green on the 552-yard 11th is tucked to the left behind a tree line and horseshoe bunker that leaves only the right side unprotected, and it slopes to the right and left off a middle ridge.
The 492-yard 15th has a creek angling to the right across the fairway about 200 yards from the green and continues through the green on the right side. The fairway slopes to the right and the green has bunkers front left and back left.
“The par-5s are generally three-shot holes except for No. 15,” John said. “You need to really pay attention to set up a good third shot. They’re very fair.”
Bob’s favorite holes were the par-3 eighth and 13th holes, which both measured about 120 yards from the gold tee. “Both holes are attractive and playable for someone with my skill set,” Bob said.
Brian’s favorite hole is the island-green par-3 13th, which measures 123 yards from the white tee. “It’s pleasing to the eye,” Brian said. “There’s something about a green in the water. They’re just cool.”
John’s favorite hole was the 401-yard par-4 third hole, which has a right fairway bunker 110 yards from an elevated green that is only 10 yards deep in the middle with bunkers both front and back and collection areas behind it. It ranks as the No. 5 handicap hole.
“This is the toughest hole on the course, I don’t care what the scorecard says,” John said. “It’s such a shallow green it’s hard to hold and you can make a big number from over the green. Guys that play the hole a lot leave it to the left of the green and chip up.”
Least favorite holes
Bob’s least favorite holes were the par-5 seventh and 15th holes, which both measured approximately 430 yards from the gold tee. “It was hard for me to get my ball in position on those holes,” Bob said. “My ball goes to the right a lot so my options are limited.”
Brian’s least favorite hole was the par-4 12th, measuring 375 yards from the white tee and featuring four fairway bunkers in the landing area off the tee and a bunker in the middle of the fairway 70 yards from a green that is protected by two bunkers right and one front left. “There are bunkers in the landing zone both left and right, and there’s no need for the bunker 70 yards from the green in the middle of the fairway,” Brian said.
John’s least favorite hole was the 433-yard par-4 16th featuring a waste bunker horseshoeing across the second portion of the fairway beginning about 200 yards from the green and giving players a decision to make off the tee. “The position of the cross bunker is too long off the tee from all tees,” John said.
Long Bay Club
200 Long Bay Club Place
Longs, SC 29568
DIRECTIONS: From Myrtle Beach, take S.C. 31 North to S.C. 9 West. Travel about 5 miles on S.C. 9 and look for the entrance to Long Bay Club on the left. Turn left onto Old Bay Road, turn right at the first stop sign onto Foxtail Drive and left onto Long Bay Club Place to reach the clubhouse.
COURSE OPENED: 1988
COURSE DESIGNERS: Jack Nicklaus
PRIVATE OR PUBLIC: Public
PRO SHOP PHONE: 843-399-2222, 1-800-344-5590
WEB SITE: www.longbaygolfclub.com
GREENS FEE: Ranges from $38-$89
MANAGEMENT COMPANY: Founders Group International
HEAD PROFESSIONAL: Jason Mitchell
COURSE SUPERINTENDENT: Jim Burris
GREENS: Champion ultradwarf Bermudagrass, poa trivialis winter overseed
FAIRWAYS: Bermuda, ryegrass overseed
CLUBHOUSE: Pro shop with TV, full-service bar and grill, dining area with TV, men’s locker room, restrooms, men’s shower, upstairs conference room and members lounge.
PRACTICE FACILITY: Driving range, chipping green with practice bunker, practice putting green, lessons available.
SPECIAL AMENITY: Ball/club washers on carts, two bald eagles on course.
COURSE RATINGS: Black: 74.6; Blue: 72.5; White: 70.7; Gold: 68.2-men, 73.5-women; Red: 69.5
SLOPE RATINGS: Black: 139; Blue: 134; White: 131; Gold: 127-m, 130-w; Red: 111
All scores are based on a scale of 1-5.
1-poor; 2-satisfactory; 3-solid/average;
4-very good; 5-the best
Occupation: Golf pro, trick shot exhibitions presented by Wilson Staff
Tees played: 7,025-yard black
Highlight: One-putting 11 greens with the J-Roll putter he made
Home: Little River
Birthplace: Washington, DC
Occupation: owner K&A Lighting and Supply
Tees played: 6,209-yard white
Highlight: Hitting driver off the fairway to within 20 feet for a two-putt par on the par-4 third hole.
Home: Holiday Park, Penn.
Occupation: retired Alcoa communications and public relations manager
Tees played: 5,715-yard gold
Highlight: A tee shot on the par-3 eighth hole to 10 feet, closest among the group
Home: Myrtle Beach
Birthplace: Lisbon, Maine
Occupation: Golf writer
Tees played: 6,209-yard white
Highlight: 8-iron to 12 feet for birdie on the first hole, and another birdie on No. 8 in a front-nine 41.