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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Arcdian Shores, Classic Myrtle Beach

Arcadian Shores is a Classic, Quality Design

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The 13th at Arcadian Shores is one of many outstanding holes.
The Myrtle Beach golf community has grown up around Arcadian Shores, adding more than 70 layouts since the course opened in 1974.

While the game and its architecture have evolved, placing a premium on course length to combat ball and equipment technology, Arcadian Shores has remained a highly regarded layout because of the timeless quality of its design.

Space-age drivers and balls that scream off club faces can’t overtake the virtues of good, traditionally designed golf courses such as Arcadian Shores.

The test is substantial, yet fair. Playability is balanced by the need for sound decision making, and the beauty lies in what the land provides, not what was created.

Arcadian features a nice blend of doglegs, water comes into play on 14 holes, and the fairways are all tree-lined.

“The golf course itself is fantastic layout, a local’s favorite,” head pro Jason Mitchell said. “It got lost in the shuffle a little bit over the last several years. The people that remember the golf course being special are coming back. It’s not just a great layout but a fun golf course to play, too.”

As Mitchell alluded to, the popularity of Arcadian Shores, once ranked among the Top 100 public courses in country, is again on the upswing. Burroughs & Chapin Golf Management took control of the course nearly two years and conditions have dramatically improved, particularly on the greens.

Arcadian Shores has five sets of tees – 5,113, 5,647, 6,055, 6,447 and 6,857 yards – making it easy for a range of handicaps to find a fair challenge. The Rees Jones design features generous fairways, making it relatively easy to find the short grass.

There are seven forced carries, most notably at the course’s most photographed hole, the par 4, 13th, but none are overly onerous. The shots over water represent a fair test.

Arcadian Shores has 64 bunkers and the undulating greens are well guarded, making the approach shot critical for success.

For players looking for a point of comparison, Arcadian Shores is reminiscent of Myrtle Beach’s most famed course, the Dunes Club. Those similarities are more than coincidental. Rees Jones’ father is the revered Robert Trent Jones, architect of the Dunes Club, and the old man’s influence is evident at Arcadian Shores.

Rees started each side with a par 5, giving players the opportunity to get off to a good start. Other than No. 16, which plays 557 yards from the tips and 533 from the blue tees, the par 5s at Arcadian offer players the chance to score.

It’s best to take advantage of the early par 5s because the challenges come quickly. The par 3 second hole is the toughest on the front nine, requiring the day’s longest carry over water and offering little bailout room. It’s a hole that gets the blood pumping.

On the back nine, No. 11 and most memorably, No. 13, both straight-away par 4s with well protected greens, provide stern tests.

The strength of Myrtle Beach as a destination lies in the depth of its offerings. The area has more than 50, 4-star courses, according to Golf Digest, and people, understandably, like to play what’s new, but golfers are well served not to overlook Arcadian Shores.

“What you see is what you get,” Mitchell said. “It’s just a beautiful golf course.”

What players are seeing in the spring of 2011 is a classic design at its best.

The Verdict: Myrtle Beach has more than 100 courses, and Arcadian Shores remains one of its best layouts. The course is imminently playable and Burroughs & Chapin has restored it to its rightful place in the market. Conditions are good and it returns great value. Your group will enjoy this course.

Arcadian Shores: 5 Things You Need to Know

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Arcadian Shores was Rees Jones' first solo design.
Arcadian Shores opened in 1974 to great acclaim and remains, in the eyes of many knowledgeable observers, one of the best designs along the Grand Strand.

More than 70 golf courses have opened in the area since the first tee shot was struck at Arcadian, and with the layout enjoying resurgence (more on that below) here are five things you need to know:

1. Never Forget Your First Love: Rees Jones, known as the Open Doctor for his renovation efforts on several U.S. Open layouts, is one golf’s most recognizable architects. Do you know what course was his maiden effort as a solo designer? You guessed it, Arcadian Shores. After learning at the hand of his famed father, Robert Trent Jones, Rees launched his career in Myrtle Beach.

2. Speaking of Robert Trent Jones: If you like his work and the Dunes Club in particular, you will certainly enjoy Arcadian Shores. With its wide fairways, large bunkers and undulating greens, there are definite similarities between Arcadian Shores and the Dunes Club, both classically designed courses.

3. Did You Know?: Arcadian Shores was once ranked No. 51 on Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.

4. Time to Return: Players that haven’t been to Arcadian Shores in the last couple of years will return to a course that is again on the upswing. Burroughs & Chapin Golf Management took over nearly two years ago and has returned the layout’s conditions to the level the it deserves. The course is in outstanding shape.

5. You Will Remember: Arcadian is a great layout and returns tremendous value, but what you will most remember is the par 4, 13th hole. It’s one of the layout’s best and most memorable. With a carry over water into a well-bunkered green it’s a great test of golf and the course’s prettiest hole, especially when the azaleas are in bloom behind the green.

Arcadian Shores: 3 Best Holes

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The second hole at Arcadian Shores is one of the course's best.
Arcadian Shores is a traditional design. A variety of doglegs, well guarded bunkers and tree-lined fairways make it one of Myrtle Beach’s most enjoyable and well designed tracks.

We asked head pro Jason Mitchell to give us the three best holes at the Rees Jones design.

No. 2, 201-yard, par 3
– Arcadian’s most challenging par 3 is also its most scenic. The tee shot (178 yards from the blue tees and 148 from the whites) requires a carry over water that runs along the right side of the green. With a bunker on the left, there is little margin for error.

“If you are going to miss, your only bailout is long,” Mitchell said. “You definitely want to make sure you have enough club.”

No. 9, 376-yard, par 4
– In Mitchell’s estimation the ninth hole is one of Arcadian’s best and most underrated holes. It’s a slight dogleg right, and the second shot plays uphill looking back into the clubhouse.

“It’s a beautiful hole,” Mitchell said. “Off the tee you want to favor the left side of the fairway and on the approach shot make sure you hit one more than you think you need. It’s more uphill than you think.”

No. 13, 408-yard, par 4 – The hardest and most scenic hole on the course, No. 13 requires an approach shot over water. Most people play their drive to a plateau looking down on the green, but the result is a much longer approach. The alternative is cresting the hill and gaining the ability to use a low iron, albeit off an uneven lie.

“It’s a very picturesque hole,” Mitchell said. “If I can have a short iron in as opposed to a 5 or 6 iron from the top of the hill, I have a much better chance of getting on.”

One warning, long hitters playing from the white tees (367 yards) run the risk hitting the ball into the lake.

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