Iconic Grand Strand course is celebrating 30th anniversary
PAWLEY ISLAND, South Carolina (Oct. 22, 2018) – In October 1986, the legendary Jack Nicklaus stood in the middle of 582 acres on here in the lowlands south of Myrtle Beach and began designing a new golf course. He returned every few months, directing fairway shaping, aligning trees, determining the elevations and placement of greens and tees, incorporating all the subtle touches that play in golfers’ minds, again and again.
The tranquil surroundings of the marshes and creeks threading across the island and framed by 200-year-old moss-draped oaks are crucial to the experience Nicklaus created at Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club. “We used what was here, without forcing or changing what Mother Nature provided,” Nicklaus once said.
Every hole is tree-lined, unless it’s routed alongside the marsh. And the trees have grown since the course opened, so much so that players sometimes have to hit under those leafy canopies.
Nicklaus, the golfer many consider the greatest ever, returned to the Grand Strand last week to mark the 30th anniversary of the opening of Pawley’s Plantation, as well as Long Bay Club, about 45 minutes northwest of Pawleys in Longs.
The par-72 Pawleys Plantation extends 7,026 yards from the tips, where it has a 74.5 rating and a 142 Slope. Nicklaus incorporated some unique touches, including a series of holes that use a wooden bulkhead to form the cart path as well as the tees at the 13th and 17th holes.
“Variety makes this course tremendously interesting to play,” Nicklaus noted. “Each of the 18 holes has a distinct strategy; green placement, water, tree lines, traps, mounds, split fairways and two holes sharing a spectacular double-green. You’ll have to think your way around the course, all the while, aware of how beautiful it is.”
Repeat players say it’s common to never have the same shot twice at Pawleys Plantation. The course has a striking finish, with six of the last seven holes involving marshes, and it has a Southern flair because of the live oaks.
Five of the par-4s weigh in at least 432 yards, including the 461-yard second, 452-yard eighth, 444-yard 16th and 443-yard 18th – the top four holes by handicap.
The second runs straight and narrow between mounding inside the tree lines on both sides, and the green is wider and more rolling in the back and narrow and sloping at the front due to a middle ridge. The sixth has water down the entire left periphery. A single large pine inside the water line pinches the landing area off the tee, and a long bunker on the left of its deep putting surface.
The eighth has a long bunker and water right of the green, and a tree is in the middle of the 416-yard ninth, 240 yards out.
The tees at the 145-yard 13th and 201-yard 17th abut each other and are accessed via a wooden bridge across a tidal marsh that must be carried to reach each bulk-headed green. These both all-or-nothing shots are just about the first things anyone who has played Pawleys Plantation mentions.
On the 13th, a putting surface is on a peninsula half the size of the famed island green at TPC Sawgrass; this one slopes to the right-front.
The 525-yard 14th turns to the right around a marsh that runs the length of the hole. There’s a troublesome tree left of the fairway 295 yards from tips. The putting surface here angles to the right into the marsh, and it has bunkers front-right and rear; a good drive here leaves a risk-reward decision with the second.
The 444-yard 16th is both difficult and attractive. The drive needs to clear a few oak trees at the bend of the dogleg-left, and marsh enters play along the right 130 yards from a green almost completely engirded by bunkers.
No. 17’s diagonal green falls off toward OB at the back. The ever-present marsh eats up errant shots and the green is narrowed by a bunker left and a large oak right.
Pawleys Plantation’s tough closer turns left around oaks and a long, thin bunker bordering a marsh. Its rolling, spacious green has water and a bunker left.
Constantly changing scenery from marsh and wetlands to traditional tree-lined fairways keeps the guesswork going at Pawleys Plantation, a great combination of nature and manmade treatments. It was designed for the golfer who plays intelligently, and a fun course with variety for all skill sets.
Set amid the splendor of 200-year old moss-draped oaks in the historical coastal region of South Carolina, Pawleys Plantation provides the perfect setting for a memorable golf getaway, special event, family vacation or business retreat. Guests may choose from one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom villas offering golf course views.
For more information, go to www.pawleysplantation.com.