This is the final installment of my reviews of the courses at Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach, S.C. See back issues of Global Traveler for reviews of the Dye (July 2013), Love (August 2013) and Fazio (January 2014) courses. The fourth in popularity is the Norman Course, which “The Shark” designed to bring into play “bump-and-run” shots around the greens.
The course lies along the Intracoastal Waterway, with seven holes siding this navigation route, providing beautiful views and challenging shots. Vegetation indigenous to the region ties in with open green complexes and fairways that often run into sand. Waste areas and natural grasses ring each hole, resembling courses in the Southwest. The course follows the Alister MacKenzie stylized design, with no angular lines and bunkers with sloping white faces, often with layered sod walls.
The par-72, 7,200-yard Norman Course uses Champion UltraDwarf grass for the greens and GN-1 (developed by Greg Norman Turf Co.) on the tees and fairways. Approach areas contain Tifdwarf grass.
Hole 1 | 377 yards, par 4
Sometimes you are in the zone, and on the day we teed up on the Norman Course, I was that guy. The first hole can be intimidating; about 100 yards of waste area occupy the front of the tee box, followed by a narrow landing area where left is wooded but playable and right is thick overgrowth where your ball will stay in South Carolina forever. My tee shot hugged the left and landed in the center of the fairway in the beautiful spring sunlight. The rest of the team struggled, with “corkified” shots by Mike Donahue, deep left, and others losing their balls right. I took the Norman “bump-and-run” path to the green for a one-putt for par.
Hole 5 | 571 yards, par 5
What would a review be without a monster par 5? Littered with waste bunkers on every side, everywhere your ball could possibly land, this hole is for the shot maker. The huge dogleg left is very flat, so any wild shots continue to roll in harm’s way. Gerbils, aka Gerry Patrick, had lots of solid tree knocks and spent so much time in the sand I thought he would pitch an umbrella and lay a blanket. To master this hole you’ll need three solid shots including a drive, a powerful 3-wood and a mid-iron — sadly, none of us met the challenge.
Hole 6 | 448 yards, par 4
This long par 4 requires two perfect shots to get to the green in regulation. The ideal direction for your drive is left center; however, John Ecklund took out his favorite driver, named “JLo,” and drove beyond the point of no return through the fairway and into the woods. The key to making par is to avoid the waste bunkers on the right that cross in front of the green. Staying out of the trees helps, too.
Hole 9 | 568 yards, par 5
Another long par 5 but with a little twist. To reach the green, tucked away on the right, you have to clear a deep ravine, the nemesis of many golfers. A clean drive off the tee like Mike’s sets you up for your next shot, which requires a little thought. You can’t just hammer your 3-wood to the green; it is most likely too far and will end up 60 feet below in the dreaded ravine. You will need a high wood, possibly a 7, or a low iron to position your ball for the next shot to the green. At this point, I could not keep track of my teammates — one was swinging his club in the backyard of a condo and another climbed down the ravine. The hole is very intimidating; and the green, once you land your shot, is surrounded with bunkers and runs fast downhill from back to front.
Hole 10 | 203 yards, par 3
Other courses in Myrtle have holes similar to this — some are slightly shorter and others drop more to the green. The par 3 along the Intracoastal Waterway is a favorite, and this Norman design does not disappoint. I took an old-fashioned Warbird Callaway 5-wood and teed the ball up slightly. It was a beautiful sight as it climbed high and came down on the left, hitting the side of the hill and bouncing toward the green. My teammates landed in the left trap, front trap and Intracoastal. I felt pretty good about my play!
Hole 12 | 438 yards, par 4
This green is a perfect example of the “bump-and-run” philosophy behind the Norman design. The only problem on this second-most difficult hole is getting to the point where you can bump and run. Off the tee, avoid the left side, where a marsh runs from in front of the tee box to the left of the green. Mike’s second shot, which looked like it would land in a fine spot to tackle the green, took a turn on the sloping fairway to the marsh, crushing his hopes. I took a right approach from the tee, landing among some trees, and then feathered my way to the front of the green, allowing me to run up to the hole.
Hole 18 | 552 yards, par 5
Norman designed a slam-bang finishing hole. The hole doglegs out of the gate and allows golfers to cut the corner, adding distance to an already long hole. John’s “JLo” was no disappointment, cutting off a hundred yards of play. The key to your second shot is not landing too far right, as this blocks you from reaching the green. Lots of balls wander off into the live oaks, and many others hold together until they approach the green and fall prey to a wet waste area. My drive was fine, but my second shot went too far right to have a clear shot to the green. Figuring I had nothing to lose, and believing trees are 80 percent air, I swung in the direction of the green and landed on the left side. I got to the green and waited for about five minutes for the rest to join me out of their various predicaments. As I said, sometimes you’re in the zone.
The Norman Course
Barefoot Resort and Golf
4980 Barefoot Resort Bridge Road
North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582
tel 866 638 4818
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