AS I arrived at Pawleys Plantation I suspected a treat was in store for me and I was not disappointed.
On arrival, I gazed up at the impressive clubhouse which sits proudly behind a spectacular tree and I was warmly welcomed by the club's staff - Southern Hospitality at its very finest.
The Jack Nicklaus designed course matches the grandeur of the clubhouse and you will need your wits about you to get around this testing track which will leave you black and blue if you don't bring your A-game, especially if you are wayward off the tee.
The track winds its way through hardwood and pine forest and the marsh area is prominent on the back 9 – you definitely know you’re in the Low Country when playing here.
It is a course which requires the golfer to think their way around; the ‘grip it and rip it’ player will get themselves in a heap of trouble.
The front nine particularly requires players to be straight off the tee as tree-line fairways squeeze the landing areas and a number of lakes are ready to swallow your ball. I would add that leaving your ball in the water is a good idea as we spotted a number of mean-looking 'gators lurking around the traps who didn't look too pleased when we approached to take their portraits.
The back nine opens up a little bit, relatively, but the salt marsh comes into play on six holes and is ready to ruin your day if you start to relax.
The course is in excellent condition with excellent greens and well-kept bunkers all the way round. The greens were fast and true and will allow better putters to prosper as the ball holds its line when rolled well.
An ample driving range and putting area is available to golfers and you would be a fool not to utilise it as you need to hit the ground running on the 1st tee.
A post round meal is a must as the food is fantastic and the charismatic clubhouse and friendly staff will be able to cure your post round blues.
Pawleys Plantation is a round that will stay with you forever due to its unique layout and will be one of the first courses you talk about when people ask you about golf in Myrtle Beach
Architect: Jack Nicklaus
Length: 7,026 (from the yellows)
Favourite hole – 13th hole, par 3 (145 yards from the yellows)
Saying that the 13th at Pawleys is unique is a grand understatement. The iconic setting means it is a par 3 which could not be recreated anywhere else in the world and it is one of the first holes I think of when I think of my time playing in Myrtle Beach.
Even the tee box is different from the norm. The elevated, thin sliver of ground from which you hit from provides glorious views out across the marsh but you will be brought back to reality when you see the green and the challenge which lies ahead of you.
It’s not a long hole but don’t let that raise your hopes. With water at the back, left, and front of the hole, it would be wise to play to the middle or right of the green where there is a bail out area.
The thin green means the length of your shot needs to be spot but it’s the wind that will prove the biggest test.
There is an element of luck needed as the gusts are unpredictable and depending on how hard it is blowing you may need to aim for the left edge of the green, or even the water, and let the wind bring it back.
Once on the green, if you have played safe and hit to the right side, you will be left with a fast, swinging, downhill putt towards to the water.
A fun but testing hole.
Card wrecker – 17th hole, par 3 (201 yards from the yellows)
As you walk to the 17th, you will pass the 13th as it shares the same strip of land which serves as a tee box. Hopefully you will have happy memories as the penultimate hole is no easier.
It’s longer than the 13th so players will be hitting long irons into the green which again has copious amounts of water surrounding it.
Your tee show must be struck well as you need to fly it over the marsh area in between you and the dancefloor and the only bail out area is on the right.
If you manage to get your ball to stick on the green you should be able to get down in two but your challenge is not completely over.
The green is larger than the 13th but turns all over the place and if you have missed your shot to the right of the hole, a tricky chip shot awaits.
Welcome relief – 12th hole, par 4 (382 yards from the yellows)
Before you head into the tough closing stretch of hole, Pawleys has offered up a generous hole which shouldn’t see you walk away with anything worse than par.
The 12th is a relatively short hole allowing you to play within yourself off the tee. There is a generous amount of fairway to land your tee shot in and you should feel confident about the hitting the short stuff with your driver.
Your approach to the green shouldn’t be too long and a large green awaits you. A large bunker sits beside the green but apart from this the second shot is largely danger-free.
You should be on the green in regulation allowing most players to have a go at birdie. Fill your boots as you will undoubtedly pick up shots on the back nine.