Playing 6,732 yards from the tips, Willbrook is widely regarded as one of Maples’ best works. He didn’t have to move much dirt – the occasional mounding you will see was created centuries ago to allow for the easy delineation of property lines – and it shows.
Maples blended the course and the land seamlessly, which surely helped Willbrook earn a 4.5-star ranking in Golf Digest’s Best Place to Play guide. Beyond natural beauty and an abundance of alligators, Willbrook challenges but remains very playable.
The fairway landing areas are generous so keeping the ball in play shouldn’t be too onerous, making the second shot critical to success. Willbrook’s putting surfaces are large, but there are no elephants buried under the Champion bermudagrass greens.
Players will have plenty of opportunities to make putts on the opening nine. After a challenging start, the course’s easiest stretch is No. 5-8, which includes a pair of short par 4s, a reachable par 5 and a fairly easy par 3.
To take advantage of the stretch, golfers must be willing to confront water, even though its perceived danger is more substantial than the actual risk faced.
A prime example is the 155-yard, island green sixth hole. The hole is short and the green is large, leaving a relatively simple shot, assuming players clear the mental hurdle provided by the water.
The fifth hole, one Willbrook’s best, is a 383-yard par 4, while the sixth measures just 355 yards. It’s not fair to call them birdie holes, because very few of us are good enough to make them with any regularity, but it’s a stretch that could see a couple stress free pars on your card.
The back nine features one of Willbrook’s most significant challenges, the 572-yard 15th hole. A dogleg left that requires precision and power on the tee, No. 15 is a three-shot hole. Players that leave with a par deserve a pat on the back.
In addition to a top-notch course, the customer service at Willbrook is superb, a point of pride for the course staff.
“Customers become friends, and friends become family down here,” McGuire says of the atmosphere.
Of course, it’s easier for customers to become friends when they return year after year.
The Verdict: This won’t come as a surprise if you’ve read this far, but Willbrook comes highly recommended. It’s a beautiful piece of property complimented by Maples’ ample design skill. Willbrook is a Myrtle Beach golf gem, and truly one of the area’s most underrated tracks.
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