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Monday, February 7, 2011

The Surf Club, Your Shot At A Private Legend

Surf Club: What's Old Is New Again

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Surf Club, one of Myrtle Beach's best courses, is open to some public play.
Surf Golf & Beach Club is on nearly every Myrtle Beach insider’s list of the area’s best courses. It’s also the elite course that golfers are least likely to have played, but they will have the opportunity to change that in 2011.

Surf Club opened in 1960, but despite its lofty reputation, the George Cobb design saw little outside play over the last decade because it was a completely private facility. But Surf Club has opened its tee sheet to a limited amount of public play, and visiting golfers will be the beneficiaries.

A traditional, parkland design, Surf Club is one of the Grand Strand’s true gems, bringing players back to a golden age of golf course architecture. The course isn’t overly long, it doesn’t force players to navigate hazards on every shot, and it doesn’t rely on gimmicks or visual deception.
Surf Club is a shot-makers course that challenges players to hit every club in the bag and play smart golf. It’s the game was it as meant to be played.

There are an assortment of doglegs and an abundance of hardwood trees that line every hole (think of the Dunes Club and Arcadian Shores, two other outstanding traditional designs). Generally speaking the hardwoods, more than fairway bunkers and water, serve as Surf Club’s protection off the tee.

In keeping with its ethos as a good, fair design, the fairways aren’t suffocated by the trees and a flight into the woods doesn’t guarantee an unplayable lie. Players will be able to find their ball and manufacture a shot if their ball is in the trees.

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Surf Club features an outstanding, traditional design.
Placement off the tee is vital because players must hit the proper spots on Surf Club’s multi-tiered greens that include significant undulation. The greens on the back nine, in particular, have ample movement and you don’t want to be above the hole.

Speaking of the back nine, the par 5 10th hole and the par 3 18th are regarded as two of the best holes along the Grand Strand. Both require a tee shot over water and have demanding greens, book-ending the closing nine with a pair of beauties.

Closing with a par 3 is unusual, particularly for a course of Surf Club’s caliber, but it works. The hole is 206 yards from the back tees with the understated, yet classy, clubhouse serving as the backdrop.  A lake forces players to carry the ball to the green, and the prevailing wind off the nearby Atlantic is almost always in a player’s face, so it’s a demanding finish.

The front nine is not to be overlooked. As a matter of fact, the course’s strongest stretch – holes two through five - come at the outset. Two par 4s, a par 3 and a par 5, allow golfers to see the best Surf Club has to offer in the opening minutes of their round.

In addition to quality golf, players can expect two other virtues in a trip to Surf Club – outstanding customer service and pace of play.

Many courses purport to offer the country club experience for a day, but Surf Club remains, ostensibly, a private club and outside guests are treated like members.

“Guests will receive the same type of treatment as members,” head pro Bill Campbell said. “We won’t let a single guest play this course (without that guarantee). They will receive the same conditions and level of service our members have come to expect.”

The club’s members have also come to expect playing a round of golf in four hours or less. That expectation won’t change for package play.

“Players will enjoy country club type conditions and what that means to me is better than normal pace of play,” Campbell said. “Our members play in less than four hours, and we anticipate our guests to play in less than four as well.”

No arguments here.

The Verdict:
Surf Club is open for limited public play and players that appreciate outstanding architecture and a good, traditional test of golf should take full advantage. The challenge of each hole is different, conditions are always outstanding, and there is a priority placed on the experience each guest receives.

Surf Club isn’t a new course, but 2011 will be the first time many Myrtle Beach golfers have the chance to play the layout and it comes highly recommended.

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