FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Pawleys Island, S.C., Caledonia Golf And Fish Club

Aug 1, 2014
2014 / July 2014

The Caledonia Golf and Fish Club is a favorite among most golfers who visit the Myrtle Beach area and is on the top list of places to play with my group. The course, previously a Southern rice plantation, has the true old Southern feel, with a driveway lined with live oaks and Spanish moss. Beautiful plantings throughout the course add to its charm and attraction.

The land was initially purchased in 1971 by local investors under the company Ponderosa, Inc., as a playground for their obsession with hunting and fishing. But in the 1990s, the golf boom was in full swing and they decided they could gain more money by shooting balls instead of lead pellets. The par-70 course, designed by the late golf architect Mike Strantz, opened in 1994 — fulfilling Strantz’ dream of an old plantation course with modern bunkering and greens.

We assembled two foursomes made up of mostly Philadelphians, with one New Yorker in the mix to shake things up. Four of us were born and raised in Drexel Hill, Pa., which is the home of Caledonia’s director of golf, Bob Seganti. I teed it up with Jimmy Sprat from New York City and Bobby Hancock and John Ecklund of Drexel Hill. We left the “turtles” in the second group — Gerry Patrick of Drexel Hill, Mike Donahue of Philadelphia and two new attendees to the trip, Neil Curran and John Kennedy from the Philadelphia Main Line.

Hole 2 | 571 yards, par 5
Caledonia eases you into the course with a relatively simple first hole. But after that, the course separates the men from the boys, which Hole 2 does by securing the title as the longest hole. It is actually a sweeping and gentle turn to the right as you approach the green, but you will need three near-perfect shots to get there. Bunkers come into play on nearly every shot, but Strantz was fair, as there are plenty of landing areas — even though I saw Bob traipsing around under the trees on the left. I kept my composure after destroying the first hole and parred 5 with grace.

Hole 8 | 528 yards, par 5
As the song “The Gambler” says, “You have to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em,” and Hole 8 is a gamble. Hold ’em if you think you can clear the three bunkers on the right so you can be in position to reach the green in two. Otherwise, fold ’em and lay up left to turn this hole into a traditional par 5. Bob and Jimmy took out their big guns and succeeded, while John and I took the more traditional route (whether we planned it or not). The approach shot is a beauty with a green protected by a pond in front. The green is also two-tiered to add to the difficulty.

Hole 9 | 118 yards, par 3
This should not be difficult, as it is very short, but it is a “looker’” — exceedingly beautiful with live oak trees framing the back hole, which became the inspiration for the course logo. A nimble touch is required; every shot that hit the green rolled off into a bunker or, like mine, into a planting bed. A tricky little hole which deceives many golfers.

After the front nine, one of the high points of Caledonia is a stop to see John Rush, who creates the course’s signature fish stew, which he ladles out to golfers. John told me it is a secret recipe passed down from the original gentleman who held the position until recently. It is a fine touch to the Caledonia experience, spicy and warm to prepare one for the back nine.

Hole 11 © Francis X. Gallagher

Hole 11 © Francis X. Gallagher

Hole 11 | 167 yards, par 3
I find this a beautiful but challenging par 3; a creek runs diagonally from in front of the tee box to the left side of the fairway in front of the green, where it opens into a pond. It is a very pretty hole with azaleas and other flowers blooming all around where our balls were scattered like Chiclets. I am always amazed how a ball can find this creek or some undesirable lie to destroy your efforts at par. I get a kick out of the yardage book that simply says to take an extra club.

Hole 16 | 417 yards, par 4
This is the most challenging hole on the course and has a slight dogleg to the right. Strantz added a bunker on the left side to toy with you as you try to place your drive to approach the green, making par a near impossibility, as John discovered when he dumped his drive there. Toss in a pond on the right of the green and, well, some in my group were ready to take up fishing over golf!

Hole 18 | 383 yards, par 4
The key with 18 is to power your drive, keeping it left of the pond which cuts across the right side. Your approach then is a slight 90-degree turn to the green and the clubhouse with plenty of spectators waiting for you to dump your shot in the pond, which wraps around three sides of the green. As you can imagine, there were a lot of great shots to the green, one by Bobby Hancock, and other less brilliant approaches, such as mine, which stayed dry but landed past the green on the left. As expected, our foursome played with such speed we had to wait a good 30 minutes for the second group, aka the “turtles,” to join us for a drink on the deck of the Caledonia Clubhouse.

Caledonia Golf and Fish Club

369 Caledonia Drive
Pawleys Island, SC 29585
tel 843 237 3675
fishclub.com

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