Griffiths-designed course puts accuaracy on the front burner
LITTLE RIVER, S.C. – The Valley at Eastport Golf Club sits on a piece of land nestled along the beautiful Intracoastal Waterway, just off Highway 17 between North Myrtle Beach and Little River, SC. The course originally opened in 1988 and was designed by Dennis Griffiths.
At only 6,200 yards from the back tees, The Valley at Eastport is a course that isn’t going to overpower many golfers, however, it’s not your typical Grand Strand layout. It has always been a favorite of locals and snowbirds in North Myrtle Beach and Little River and is especially popular for couples.
It’s more of a finesse course with lush tree-lined fairways and naturally undulating terrain that doesn’t permit you to spray the ball. The cleverly contoured Mini-Verde Bermuda greens will test any golfer no matter how good they are. Each hole presents a fresh, new look, and many demand skillful shot-making into and around meticulously manicured greens.
The Valley at Eastport Golf Club has only one par 5 on each side, hence the par of 70. Arguably, No. 18 at 468 yards plays like a par 5 for most golfers.
The first hole is a 359-yard, straightaway par 4 with a lone pine tree on the right side of the fairway. It’s just far enough for most players that, if you push your tee shot right, it’s going to come into play. There’s a lot of mounding in the fairways that can lead to the dreaded uneven lie. Two bunkers protect the front.
At 366 yards from the Blue tee, No. 2 is another medium length par 4. It’s another relatively straight hole with a lot of mounding. The long, narrow green is slightly elevated and fronted with a cluster of bunkers.
The third is a 338-yard par 4 that requires accuracy rather than length of the tee. The pin is barely visible off the tee because of the island of bushes and shrubbery, which makes it feel like a slight dogleg right. There’s water all down the right side but if you play your tee shot down the tree line on the left side with a slight fade, you’ll leave a short pitch shot into an elevated green that is wider than it is deep. Par is a good score on this tricky little hole.
The par 3 holes at The Valley at Eastport Golf Club are challenging and all involve water. All four par 3s feature greens that are set at the same angle, front left to back right. Of the set, the fourth and seventh are noteworthy.
No. 4 plays at 160 yards and ends at a green that is angled and surrounded by water. Finding the putting surface off the tee can be a challenge, especially if the wind is blowing. The seventh is the longest at 190 yards from the blue tees and although the water shouldn’t come into play, for many it does. Sand guards the right side in the form of two separate bunkers.
Although it’s the shortest hole on the course at 137 yards from the blue tees, No. 13 is by no means the easiest.. It’s all carry over water and if you miss the green left, you’re most likely wet. Miss it long or short and you could easily find a bunker. Find the green off the tee and you just might make par
The 15th is another challenging par 3. The green sits at about the same angle as the fourthth hole. It plays 175 yards from the blue tees and requires a carry of about 125 yards over water.
Holes 17 and 18 are two finishing holes that can make or break a great round; they are incredibly long and challenging.
No. 17 is a par 4 dogleg left that plays 434 yards from the blue tees. It requires a long drive down the right side that opens up the hole and leaves a long but unobstructed shot into the green. Anything left of the middle of the fairway will require a long approach shot over trees. Either way, you’ll need to carry the large pond that fronts the green. Hit it right of the green and you’ll most likely find the bunker.
In my mind, the closing hole should be a par 5. A great drive is still going to leave at least 225 yards, most of which is over water. The way I played it was driver, 9-iron short of the water and then pitching wedge over the water to the green. Pull your tee shot left and you could easily find one of the three bunkers. Par – or even bogey – is a good way to end your round.
For the most part, the greens here are small and require accurately hit approach shots. Before your round, warm up on The Valley at Eastport’s chipping and putting green. If you’re not hitting your short irons and you have trouble with your short game, you may have some problems. The speed of the practice putting green mirrors what you’ll experience on the course.
If you need to hit a few balls to loosen up, there’s a driving range just across the street at Harbour View. There are several blind shots, so take a moment to drive ahead and see exactly what’s in store.
The sixth tee box offers a great view of ther region’s historical Governor’s Lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in 1984 by Governor Richard Riley to honor all of South Carolina’s past and present governors and stands at the end of Coquina Harbor. The Valley at Eastport is the only golf course in the area with such a view.
It is also only one of a handful of courses with Live Oaks throughout the property and Sycamore trees between the 15th and 16th holes that are probably a couple of hundred years old. These Sycamores are featured in the club’s logo.