WE FREQUENTLY PLAY Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links on our annual Myrtle Beach tour, but the course hasn’t made the pages of Global Traveler for a long time. The facility occupies 270 acres of environmentally sensitive and preserved land (due to golf) on the north side of the Grand Strand. Water features heavily on 12 of the 18 holes, and the Intercoastal Waterway threads its way around the course. Add in a little Southern charm with century-old live oaks, and you have a lovely golf experience.
Designed by Clyde Johnston, the course opened in 1996. Johnston designed many courses in Myrtle Beach and Florida, including Jacksonville Golf and Country Club, which he will refresh this year after his original design some 30 years ago. At Glen Dornoch, passing boat traffic makes for an interesting diversion while you search for your ball in the high grass.
Glen Dornoch belongs to The Glens Golf Group, which includes sister courses Heather Glen (see the November 2015 Global Traveler), Possum Trot and Shaftesbury Glen; the latter two might be referred to as “tracks,” or courses not up to par. Glen Dornoch and Heather Glen remain the shining stars of The Glens Golf Group. Glen Dornoch just finished a total replacement of greens, and by the looks of them, they were not succeeding. Frankly, the greens were a huge disappointment and may result in a future no-play for the annual trip.
Early by my standards, before 9 a.m., we teed up in a threesome including John Ecklund of Philadelphia; Gerry Gallagher, my older brother from Dallas; and yours truly. The Glen will never be the same.
HOLE 5 | 590 yards, par 5 – Wet Not Want Not
“Wet Not Want Not,” a monster by any measure, presented a daunting task for Gerry, John and me as we teed up. The hole is so named due to the significant marsh you must clear on the second shot. From the tee box, Gerry drove a ball so far into the woods, woodpeckers are still telling stories of the ricochets. John and I drove decent drives favoring the left side in anticipation of carrying the 66 yards of wetlands before us. Although 66 yards is really nothing, as most know, 66 can feel like 666 when you hit your 3-wood fat and muddy. I cleared the hazard and landed on the deep green, walking away with my only par on the front nine. Wet is not what you want on Hole 5!
HOLE 9 | 460 yards, par 4 – Sea Cruise
Ranked as the No. 1-handicapped hole on Glen Dornoch, “Sea Cruise” intimidated us, as the Intercoastal Waterway lines the entire right side. So dangerous is this passage, boaters are asked to sign a waiver that golf balls may strike craft, causing their sinking … not really. But when we teed off, John was ready to steer his ball far from harm’s way, landing left of the fairway but safe. Gerry and I took a more dangerous route, teetering on the right side and nearly “seeing” the sea. The deceptive approach to the green goes slightly uphill; John took Hole 9, closing out the first half of Glen Dornoch.
HOLE 16 | 431 yards, par 4 – Beauty Is a Beast
There is no question your second shot to the green will be breathtaking with the waterway beyond and a sunken green crisscrossed with water and footbridges. But you are not here for photo ops. Chills will tingle up your spine as you imagine the harm that can happen, and I saw it firsthand. From the tee, do what John did and hug the right bunker. From there, he executed a shot that looked lost but was found sitting on the green. A long putt up to the flag and a few expletives made for the best score on the Beast.
HOLE 17 | 212 yards, par 3 – Island in the Sky
This might be the most respected and admired hole on the course. It is virtually an island green where you must clear marsh in front to an overly bunkered green. The rear bunker, backed with railroad ties, makes overstriking the ball a comical sight. From the tee box, a tree partially blocks the green, making a somewhat blind shot. A blindfold might have helped as we thrust ourselves into our swings, catching traps, bulkheads and greens. Even so, Johnny and I earned the best scores, each carding a 4.
HOLE 18 | 455 yards, par 4 – Where You Went
On this great challenging hole, you face two alternatives: Aim straight and hope you will clear the marsh straight ahead while not turning left into the Intercoastal, or chicken out and take the fairway right as a layup. Gerry teed up with all intentions of following the two of us who barely made it across, but he slapped his drive to the bailout/layup area on the right. John and I drove over but too far right for a clean second shot to the green. It was Gerry who pulled out the sneak attack and hit the green from the right fairway to par the final hole — forever coining the term “where you went.”
GLEN DORNOCH WATERWAY GOLF LINKS
4840 Glen Dornoch Way
Little River, SC 29566
tel 843 249 2541
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