What better way to celebrate golf in the Carolinas than playing a course designed by one of their native sons, Davis Love III. Barefoot Resort and Golf offers four championship courses where golfers can hit the links designed by and named for Fazio, Norman, Dye and Love. Golf Digest voted the Love Course the best in Myrtle Beach.
Love took the characteristics intrinsic to the topography in this coastal Carolina retreat and created a traditional course, designing the greens complexes with Pinehurst No. 2 as a model. He used A-1 bentgrass on the greens and 419 Bermuda on the fairways, with a smattering of fescue and zoysia in the rough to make life interesting. When we played, the course was in decent shape but not up to the standards I expected after playing the Dye Course. Zoysia turns brown and goes dormant in the winter; it had yet to green up when we were in Myrtle Beach.
The Barefoot Resort operates like a well-oiled machine, churning out golfers from all over the world in an efficient manner. Our team included the regular players who have ventured to Myrtle for countless years: Gerry “Gerbils” Patrick, Mikie “Corky” Donahue, John Boy Ecklund, Jimmy the Cop, “Lucky Bob” Hancock and yours truly.
Hole 4 | 294 yards, par 4
This famous and controversial hole has a gimmicky faux ruin of a Southern plantation home. A well-placed drive can reach this green, and this is just what “Lucky Bob” did, landing on the front fringe. A wall just off and behind the green makes for an impossible recovery if you overshoot. In the many years I have played this course, I have found my ball up against this wall (unplayable), ricocheting off the wall and onto the green for a near-eagle or even over the wall, where I used my lob wedge to shoot back into play, followed by applause from my group. It’s an interesting and picturesque hole, and I would hate the course without it.
Hole 5 | 463 yards, par 4
The No. 1 handicapped hole plays long unless you can bomb a drive over the crest of the hill in the center. There is a large trap on the right side; some magnetism seems to attract drives over it and into the lake on the right. I decided to take the route right; this put me too far afield for a clear shot to the green. Rather than playing smart, I thought I could carve the ball to the right and still save my score. Wrong. I ended up near the green in a wooded area, which caused me great harm. Mikie had an even more difficult time, zigzagging like a lizard on the hot sand.
Hole 8 | 552 yards, par 5
Many say this is the best-designed hole on the course. We played the course twice while enjoying the lovely weather, and I scored a bogey on this challenger each time — consistency! The best drive has a little draw so it lands perfectly on this dogleg left. There is a pond on the right and the opening to the fairway appears very narrow, as trees line the left side. I landed too far right but launched my second shot within 130–140 yards of the green. This is where things get tricky: You have to clear a marsh to reach the green, and I cannot tell you how many players fail to execute this shot. My ball landed too far right on the green, leaving me with an enormous putt to bogey.
Hole 13 | 484 yards, par 5
I have a love-hate relationship with lucky 13. I love the challenges this hole offers — Davis Love must have enjoyed creating so many troubles! The fairway is split into two segments that feel more like five as a creek snakes sideways left to right, offering many ways to get wet on your drive. You can tee it up and land right or left and still have a decent shot to the landing area. I chose the left, then hit my ball terribly with my 3-wood into a rough patch on the right of the fairway, nearly out of bounds. I dropped another ball just for fun and fired a perfect shot, landing in front of the green. Bob yelled, “Hey, this is not a driving range!” I played the first ball but still ended up with a double bogey. Mikie had so many issues in the woods, I was ready to offer him a commission as a park ranger.
Hole 14 | 439 yards, par 4
Here’s another little Love design that should be a piece of cake but ends up more like pudding. With a pond on the left that should not be an issue and traps and fescue on the right, I have found both on the two times I played. The smart play is to drive to the center, favoring a little right as the hole turns in that direction. A perfectly straight and long drive can bounce off the fairway, landing perfectly on two of Love’s booby traps — a cement cart path which bounces you into the water or a set of lame bunkers, which seem to be an afterthought. From here, it’s a relatively easy shot to the green, which lies in front of woods that burned a few years ago, taking houses and a condo as it ravaged Barefoot.
Hole 18 | 596 yards, par 5
Did Love want us to hate him? Actually, this is a fantastic golf hole, long and turning at the end to the left with a pond next to the green. I was proud to card a 5 and a 6 in our two rounds. The challenge off the tee box is to drive straight and land safely between the trees on either side. Next, you need another textbook shot, avoiding the pond and the wetlands on the left. They were dry when we played, and I got a kick out of John playing his ball quite well, with no fear of snakes that nest in these damp areas. The green is slightly elevated, and if you make it there without hitting a hazard, you may call yourself a “Lover” of golf.
The Love Course Barefoot Resort and Golf
4980 Barefoot Resort Bridge Road
North Myrtle Beach SC 29582
tel 843 357 3310
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