Course Review: Long Bay Challenges, Treats Golfers

March 13, 2013

Golfers, by nature, are a competitive bunch and Long Bay provides players an honest reckoning of where their game stands, punctuated by the nerve-jangling 18th hole.

A player that slays the 7,025-yard, par 72 layout will leave the course with a sense of well-deserved satisfaction. Those who don’t play to their handicap typically come back, hoping to exact a little revenge on a course that has emerged as an area favorite.

“I think people like to be challenged,” Jim Fellner, the head pro at Long Bay, said. “When you come down from any area of the country you want to come down and play golf courses you don’t have in your hometown, and Long Bay is certainly one of those courses.”

Located on the North Strand, Long Bay (official website) is a “second shot” golf course. Accuracy and distance off the tee are important to provide the best angle of approach, but a precise iron game is essential to success at Long Bay.

The Champion bermuda grass greens at Long Bay, while nearly always in impeccable condition, aren’t particularly large, and collection areas and deep bunkers surround many them.


long bay 18“People ask us: ‘What's the secret is to playing this course?’” Fellner says. “(The answer is) make sure you have enough club in your hand. If there is a bunker in front of the green make sure you clear it, there is room in the back.”

Fellner’s advice on distance sounds simple, but understanding geography is essential to a player’s ability to have “enough” club on the all-important approach.

“Most people coming to Myrtle Beach for a golf trip are coming from a high elevation,” Fellner said. “If they are hitting a 7-iron 150 yards up North, it’s only going to go 140 yards here (at sea level).”

Fellner’s advice is applicable on all Myrtle Beach golf courses, but at a layout like Long Bay that requires players to fly the ball to the green, understanding the need to compensate for lost distance can be the difference between collecting money and handing it out.

Course architect Jack Nicklaus used ample bunkering and fairway mounding at Long Bay to create a course that is as visually appealing as it is challenging.

“Architecturally this is a well designed golf course,” Fellner said. “There is beauty in that type of setting.”

From the first tee to the final putt, Long Bay is an outstanding test of golf, giving Grand Strand golfers the type of challenge and quality they aren’t likely to see at home.

Par 3s

The most visually appealing of Long Bay’s par 3s is the island green 13th hole. Playing just 156 yards, the hole’s difficulty is defined by the wind and the ability of players to deal with the surrounding water.

There is plenty of landing area on No. 13 – the green is 30 yards deep and there is close to 25 yards of width, though some of that area is rough. With a short iron, most players should be able to find dry land but nerves can be a factor.

The 17th hole is the course’s most difficult par 3, measuring 203 yards from the tips. A green shaped like an inverted L is surrounded by eight bunkers and a steep collection area on the right.

The frontside par 3s – No. 5 and No. 8 – aren’t long, but both are very good holes. No. 5 is more difficult, playing 182 yards downhill into a narrow green. With water and a bunker on the left side, you don’t want to hook the ball.

Long Bay Club Number 13

No. 8 has a green buffeted by traps on the both sides, but it’s not particularly long, playing just 179 yards from the tips.

Par 4s
Myrtle Beach’s local paper, The Sun News, published a book ranking its “100 Greatest Holes along the Grand Strand,” and the back nine at Long Bay is bookended by two of those holes.

The 10th is widely regarded as the course’s signature hole. Playing just 352 yards from the tips, No. 10 is short hole fraught with peril. The fairway is surrounded by a horseshoe shaped bunker where dreams of par go to die. A drive into the sand makes the approach into an elevated green with steep slopes on all sides very difficult. 

Find the fairway off the tee and you are in good shape. Either way, No. 10 is an outstanding hole, where anything from birdie to double bogey or beyond is possible.

Fellner loves No. 3, a short par 4 with only one bunker that must be avoided at all costs. No. 4 is the longest par 4, playing 472 yards from the tips. With waste bunkers paralleling both sides of the fairways, it’s ranked as Long Bay’s most difficult hole.  The 14th is another standout. There are no hazards around the fairway, but five bunkers surrounding an undulating green that is just 22 yards deep creates ample challenge.

No. 18, one of the Grand Strand’s top 100 holes, is an ideal way to finish the round.

Par 5s
The par 5s at Long Bay offer golfers a chance to pick up strokes, but they must be earned. Holes 7, 11 and 15 give long hitters a chance to go for the green in two, but it takes equal parts skill and daring to succeed.

No. 15 is the easiest of the par 5s, playing just 492 yards from the tips, but a stream dissects the fairway and runs up the right side, preventing players from unloading on the ball with impunity. The green is protected by sand on the left and water on the right, but smart players could reasonably expect to have a birdie putt.

Holes 7 and 11 feature plenty of sand and fairway mounding. No. 7, also ranked as one of Myrtle Beach’s top 100 holes, offers plenty of landing area off the tee but narrows the closer one gets to the hole.

The second hole plays 568 yards from the tips and only the longest hitters can even think about going for the green in two. A large waste bunker that crosses in front of the green extracts a penalty for shots that come up short, so, again, make sure you bring enough club.

The Verdict: Long Bay lacks some of the coastal scenery that many have come to associate with Myrtle Beach golf, but it’s one of the area’s most challenging and highly regarded courses. The front nine, is very good, and the closing nine is outstanding. Holes 10, 13, and 18 comprise three of Myrtle Beach’s top 100 holes, and leave golfers wanting to play another round.

Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play” guide gave Long Bay 4.5 stars, a designation that is well-deserved.

Have you played it? Help your fellow Myrtle Beach golfers and share YOUR review on the Long Bay Club page!