Course Review: Wild Wing Avocet is a Course in Full Flight

July 7, 2012

“It has a unique feel,” head pro Dave Harbaugh said. “But it’s still wide enough that you can come here for the first time and spray it around a little.”

No 9 fairway at Avocet

The disadvantage to not finding the fairway comes on the approach. Avocet shouldn’t result in many lost balls, but its multi-tiered greens, surrounded by swales and sand, will test every player’s short game. Position off the tee is vital to hopes of scoring on a course that measures 7,127 yards from the tips.

Speaking of length, don’t be fooled by the 6,028 yards listed as the total distance for the white tees. Believe the Wild Wing staff, which is as hospitable as any, when it tells you the course plays between 6,200 and 6,300 yards from the white tees. 

“For me it was very challenging from the back tees,” Brooksville, Fla., resident Roger Maharaj said. “For my son, it was very easy from the forward tees. It was designed with everyone in mind. That’s what I look for in a golf course.”

Avocet, the only full 18-hole course remaining at Wild Wing (the Hummingbird Course has nine holes open), features superbly conditioned A-1 bentgrass greens.

Most of the trouble at Avocet is on the opening holes. The stretch between three and six is the course’s most difficult, but anyone that survives that gauntlet will be positioned for a good round of golf.

“If you make it through six without too many bogeys on the card, you are doing well,” Harbaugh said.

Even if the scorecard doesn’t survive that stretch, a trip to Avocet is almost always a good one.

Par 3s
Birdies aren’t easy to come by on Avocet’s par 3s, but avoiding big numbers shouldn’t be difficult either.
The greens at Wild Wing have as many tiers as the IRS but the par 3 fifth offers the course’s flattest putting surface. The hole plays 183 yards from the tips but players on the white tees (119 yards) can get home with a wedge. If you are going to drain a long putt, No. 5 is your best chance.

The eighth is 176 yards and surrounded by sand, swales and water, but the potential hazards make it sound more imposing than it is. The green is 32 yards deep and nearly as wide. One caveat, to have any chance at birdie your tee shot must land on the same tier the green is on. If the flag is tucked on the lower left corner –bringing water and the swales into play – resist the urge to be a hero and aim for the middle of the green.

The most difficult par 3, without question, is the 227-yard 12th. It’s a manageable 166 yards from the white tees but the hole plays slightly uphill and a large, deep bunker guarding the right side of the green gobbles balls. Anyone that bails out to the left faces an awkward pitch that’s not easy to execute.

The final par 3 is the 17th, which shares a green with the daunting sixth hole. There is mounding and bunkers around the green, but the 17th offers the chance to build momentum heading into the home hole.


No 8.jpg

Par 4s
Avocet’s par 4s feature the course’s most memorable holes. The 462-yard 6th is its most difficult. Water looms on the left, mounding on the right and the double green features three tiers on that particular side. There is more than two club length’s difference from the front of the green to the back, and it’s not particularly wide.

Errant approach shots face a bunker on the right or Avocet’s trademark mounding on the left. A par on the 6th hole is a very good score.

The ninth hole is as fun as the sixth hole is difficult. The ninth features a double fairway, with three bunkers separating the two swaths of short grass. The hole plays just 362 yards from the tips but accuracy is king.

The elevated left side is approximately eight feet higher than its companion on the right and offers the preferred path to the green. The only catch is its more difficult to hit.

The right fairway is easier to find but three pot bunkers approximately 280 yards from the tees prevent all but the longest of hitters from overpowering the hole. If your ball finds the pot bunkers, you can say goodbye to dreams of birdie and likely par.

The pot bunkers don’t allow a clear view of the ninth green, either. So what will it be, the more difficult left side or the easier to find but harder-to-finish-from right side?

Most players only dream of having to decide whether to try and drive the green, but the 14th makes it a choice for nearly everyone. It’s just 308 yards from the tips (265 from the white tees) and the hole is a dogleg right. For players that swing for glory (and whether it’s the percentage play or not, I’d recommend it in this instance. Who doesn’t want to say the drove a green?!), six bunkers serve as a possible comeuppance.

The three-tiered green and the swales that surround it do their part to protect par. Like No. 9, the 14th is a hole you will tell your buddies about.

While the scorecard ranks 14 as Avocet’s easiest, No. 2 provides the least resistance in Harbaugh’s estimation. It plays 422 from the tips but just 327 from the white tees. The hole is straight, the fairway is generous and the only trouble is a bunker on the left side of the green. The opening holes are difficult but the second gives players the opportunity to steal a stroke.

As the round draws to a close, the 470-yard, 16th hole isn’t to be trifled with. It’s a bear and the second most difficult on the course.

“We have a great variety and that’s what works for the course,” Harbaugh said.

Par 5s
Avocet’s par 5s aren’t overwhelming but there isn’t an “easy” birdie among them.

The 551-yard, fourth hole doesn’t require precision off the tee, but your second shot has to be on the right side of the fairway, which offers the preferred angle into a peanut shaped green. Players on the left side of the fairway have to clear a large bunker to hold a green that isn’t more than 15 yards deep.

The seventh has a fairway that, in Harbaugh’s words, appears wide enough to land a plane in. It’s also 576 yards with a pair of bunkers to collect shots that fall short. The hole isn’t visually intimidating but length makes it difficult.

The back nine par 5s, 11 and 15, both feature ample water, mounding and sand. The 11th is the more difficult hole due to a fairway that is narrower from start to finish.

The Verdict: Avocet is alive and well, its place in the Myrtle Beach market secure. The course is typically in outstanding shape and the diversity it offers is memory inducing, a perquisite for a quality layout. If your group books a round at Avocet, a good time awaits.

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