Nicklaus Delivers a Memorable Round at Pawleys Plantation

May 3, 2013

Pawleys Plantations’ greens generally slope from front to back and allow an aggressive stroke at the ball. As a rule, the closer players get to the hole, the more aggressive the layout allows them to play.

The following is a closer look at Pawleys Plantation:

Pawleys Plantation #13 takes you out to the middle of the tidal marsh

Par 3s

The four par threes at Pawleys Plantation are as tough as they are scenic, which is saying something. The 13th is Pawleys’ signature hole and one of the most recognizable on the Strand.

Despite sharing a double green with No. 16, the 13th plays like an island green. Just 145 yards from the Golden Bear tees and 69 from the white tees, the green is built into a bulkhead and is 28 yards deep. The Atlantic Ocean is on the other side of the expansive marsh and there is nothing to impede the wind, enhancing the challenge. The 13th is a hole that no one forgets.

The 17th is the final par 3 and requires another carry over the marsh. Playing 201 yards from the tips, No. 17 is the longest par 3 on the course, but there is room to bailout on the right and a trap on the left, meaning an off-line shot has a chance to find dry land.

Pawleys’ first par 3 is on the third hole and water is the overriding concern there as well. The lake – a cozy home for the property’s alligators – is threatening, but the green opens up in the front, rewarding players that can hit a high draw. The 194-yard hole has a trap that ambles up the left side  and there is a sliver of land to the right.

The only par 3 that doesn’t feature water is the seventh, where sand is the punishment for poor shots. The green on the seventh is 42 yards deep but not particularly wide. The seventh is the easiest on the front side but anyone that finds the bunker that runs along the right side will have difficulty recovering for par.

Collectively the par 3s at Pawleys Plantation are as memorable as any group on the Grand Strand.

Par 4s
Variety is what stands out about the par 4s at Pawleys Plantation. Nicklaus created several dogleg holes going in each direction, requiring a different strategy for each.

Despite the abundance of doglegs, the course’s most difficult hole is the straight-as-an-arrow second. The second hole plays 461 yards from the tips and mounds and trees on the right collect sliced drives. The approach into an undulating green guarded by a trap on the left requires an accurate mid to long iron. A par or even bogey on the second is a good score.

Pawleys Plantation #10 with the ocean at your back

The most enjoyable two-shotter might be the 10th. The hole measures 361 yards from the Golden Bear tees, but a large bunker (notice a trend?) on the right narrows the landing area for players that elect to drive the ball near a reachable pond in front of the green. (The pond is approximately 300 yards from the back tee so it's very much in play.)

Get close to the water on the left side and a good angle into the pin and a possible birdie await. A drive in the trap will force an approach out of a fairway bunker and over water.

The prettiest par 4 is the 16th, a challenging dogleg left that plays back into the marsh on the approach shot. No. 16 offers a dramatic view of the marsh as the round nears an end.

In many ways the par 4s at Pawleys Plantation represent Nicklaus at his best – diverse and demanding but always fair.

Par 5s
Pawleys Plantation gives players an opportunity for a good start on the par 5 first hole. Playing 511 yards, the first hole is manageable. A fairway bunker that follows the final 140 yards of fairway up to the right side of the green is the only trouble. 

Pawleys Plantation #4 tee box

The other three par 5s are more difficult to take advantage of. Three bunkers in the middle of the fourth fairway create what amounts to a double fairway. Long hitters will want to bomb the ball over the traps in hopes of reaching the 543-yard hole in two shots, but a deep bunker fronting the green can exact a price.

The par 5 eleventh is the longest hole at Pawleys Plantation and a tree in the fairway, a Nicklaus design trait, increases the difficulty.

The 14th hole – where Nicklaus used to own a home on the fairway – is the No. 14 handicap, but that’s a ranking many take issue with. The consensus is No. 14 is the hardest par 5 on the course. The landing area off the tee is generous for any shot 250 yards or shorter, but the marsh rapidly encroaches on the fairway afterwards. Bombing the ball off the tee is risky and for players that choose to lay back, the fairway remains narrow along the landing area for the second shot.

There are shots to be made up on the par 5s, but the holes are by no means easy.

The Verdict: Pawleys Plantation has some of the most beautiful scenery of any course along the Grand Strand, and Nicklaus crafted a very good layout. Located within minutes of three of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses – Caledonia, Heritage and True Blue – Pawleys Plantation more than holds its own.

A round at Pawleys Plantation, which is in excellent shape heading into the spring, will help make any Myrtle Beach golf trip a good one (click for video of Myrtle Beach golfers discussing Pawleys Plantation).

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