By Myrtle Beach golf standards, Heather Glen Golf Links is ancient. During the golf boom of the 1990s until the golf bust after the 2009 recession, courses popped up in the Myrtle Beach area like mushrooms after a summer storm. The beloved championship course at Heather Glen was born before all that, in 1987. When it opened, Golf Digest ranked it America’s No. 1 New Public Course, and it continues to enjoy a high rating in many surveys. Heather Glen is one of four courses in The Glens Group, along with Glen Dornoch, Shaftesbury Glen and Possum Trot.
Heather Glen offers 27 holes made up of three nines — the Red, White and Blue courses — and includes some of the best holes in Myrtle. Driving up to the clubhouse, you get a true Southern plantation feel from the live oaks that line the driveway. You might not admire the tight fairways and tall pines that line the course, however, as you drive your ball too far afield.
Famed golf course architect Willard C. Byrd, a World War II veteran who served on a Navy minesweeper, designed the course. Byrd designed or renovated nearly 100 courses in his lifetime. A sampling of Byrd courses includes Atlanta Country Club, The Country Club of North Carolina, Pinehurst and Wild Wing Plantation in Myrtle Beach. Golfers know what to expect from one of his well-designed courses.
I teed up to attack Heather with Mike Donahue, Bobby Hancock and Gerry “Gerbils” Patrick. We wonder if we will ever be welcomed back!
Hole 1 | 430 yards, par 4 ‘The Redan’
Always nice to tee up on the first hole and prepare for battle. “The Redan” offers a balanced approach to ruin your day, and it is an equal opportunity hole. For the high handicappers — we had a few in our group — a missed tee shot can get you wet or land you in a perfectly positioned waste bunker. These difficult areas have a certain magnetism for Gerbils. For those who nail a shot off the tee without perfect control, trees and a long bunker await to the right. The worst feature — nicknamed “Hacker’s Haven” — is the large, fearsome bunker guarding the front of the green, where I believe I heard a few naughty words spoken.
Hole 4 | 165 yards, par 3 ‘The Pot Hole’
One would think this hole would be located in Denver in the backyard of some stoner, but “The Pot Hole” resides at Heather and is the home of the “Devil’s Mistress,” which I added to the list of the most hated pot bunkers in the United States. This is where Jimmy Whelehan (certainly not in our group) scored an ace twice in one day, with the same club and the same ball, during two different 18-hole rounds on March 1, 1992. If you think that sounds like a difficult task, you are correct — and he is the only person to accomplish it.
Hole 8 | 409 yards, par 4 ‘The Spectacle’
You need more than 200 yards to clear the pond and the waste bunkers if you take the shortcut and drive the ball toward the green on this dogleg left. Aim for the right fairway for a safe bet, but you still must contend with a fair amount of moguls. I took the safer route, which still gave me a rather long iron to the green. As you can imagine, our group made quite a spectacle as we heaved balls into the pond or the various bunkers Willard Byrd so proudly supplied. Perhaps his minesweeping would have found a few of our sunken drives.
Hole 8 | 525 yards, par 5 ‘Perfection’
I believe I witnessed the most spectacular shot in golf, made by Mike Donahue. It involved a rock, a steel storm pipe and water. But first some information about this hole, one of the more challenging at Heather Glen. You need a near-perfect drive to clear a drainage ditch (which I did) to a luscious fairway. From here, you have to land your second shot in front of the water that guards the green while crossing the drainage ditch once again. The green, partially tucked in on the left, adds to the difficulty and increases the possibility of reaching the water first (which I did). Mike failed to clear the first ditch, landing squarely in the center but not in any water. The hole turns left here, so he aimed for the landing zone, saying something like “This is no problem,” and took a full swing. The ball headed too far left and too low, traveling through the steel pipe, hitting a rock on the other side and returning back into the pipe — this time twirling around about 10 times and nearly returning to its original position. Bobby exclaimed, “Did you see that? That was the coolest thing I ever saw! It twirled around like a corkscrew!”
Hole 9 | 410 yards, par 4 ‘Bunker’s Hill’
On June 17, 1775, the British defeated the Continental Army at the battle of Bunker Hill. Although defeated, the ragtag American troops nonetheless delivered a blow to the British, who suffered significant casualties. As you approach the green on Hole 9, nine bunkers set up a defensive line. The first is about 100 yards out; from here, they dot the right-side approach and circle the green in fortification. Mounding and bunkering create a valley effect as you approach another redan-style green. “Redan be damned!” was the battle cry as we completed a successful round at one of our favorite Myrtle Beach haunts.
Heather Glen Golf Links
650 Heather Glen Way
Little River, SC 29566
tel 843 249 9000
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