From the tips it’s one of the longest and most difficult golf courses along the Grand Strand, but at The Dye Club at Barefoot Resort, it’s the little things that matter most.
Hi-tech GPS devices, extra storage compartments and cold, wet face towels are some of the small perks that greet golfers.
“We pride ourselves on those added touches,” said Jeff Diehl, head pro at the Dye Club and a Carolina Forest resident. “It all comes from our staff. They’re wonderful, and they’re committed to customer service and customer relations. I can’t thank them enough.”
The semi-private Dye Club is a links style course that opened in 2000. Its sister courses are the Love, Fazio and Norman, each named after designers Davis Love III, Tom Fazio and Greg Norman.
The 7,343-yard Pete Dye design is certainly long enough to host a PGA Tour event.
It carries a course rating of 76.0 and slope of 146, and has already hosted the Monday After the Masters (MAM) charity pro-am, which is held in April.
In the past, MAM has featured Annika Sorenstam, Dustin Johnson, Davis Love III, Jim Furyk and other PGA and LPGA stars.
The course and its sister Fazio and Love courses also served as host sites for “Big Break,” a golf challenge and reality TV show that airs on the Golf Channel.
“It is the most difficult of the four and one of the most difficult in Myrtle Beach,” Diehl said.
But the 18-hole course also features tee markers set at 6,634, 6,005, 5,504 and 5,021 yards, making it more manageable for most players.
Joining me for a recent review round was my father, John Smith, and his friends Bob and Auggie. All three work at Willbrook Plantation. They played from the 5,504 senior markers and I played the 7,343-yard platinum tees.
My father thought the Dye Club was tough, but fair. My dad thought the senior tees were especially fair, noting there were few forced carries.
He did think local knowledge was key on some holes, such as the par 4 7th and 11th holes, where apparently well-struck tee shots found trouble.
“It’s not as difficult as some courses I’ve played, but you definitely have to hit it in the right spot,” he said. “You can score out here.”
The 5,504-yard senior tees were added recently to fill a gap that previously existed between the white and forward tees, Diehl said.
“Pete Dye always gives you a give way out,” he said.
It’s not known exactly how many bunkers are on the course. Estimates place the number at nearly 200.
Diehl said the 225-yard par 3 15th probably has 30 bunkers alone, though like most holes at the Dye Club, only a fraction are truly in play.
“I’d say only 20 percent of the bunkers come into play, the rest are visually intimidating,” Diehl said. “That’s typical for Pete Dye’s type of design.”
Dye Club sand traps are classified by local rule as “sandy areas,” meaning players can ground their clubs, even if there’s a rake present.
Diehl said that decision arose from the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, another Pete Dye design.
PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson was assessed a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in what he thought was a waste area. Diehl said the Dye Club local rule eliminates that confusion.
The signature hole is the 471-yard par 4 18th hole, a dogleg left that wraps around a large pond and is eerily similar to the 18th at TPC Sawgrass, another Pete Dye design.
Diehl says the aforementioned 15th and the 195-yard par 3 sixth are strong contenders for signature holes. No. 6 is guarded by water all along the right side, and No. 15 in addition to the bunkering requires a long, accurate approach to an undulating green.
For its difficulty, both nines at the Dye Club begin rather benign.
Nos. 1 and 2 require only a drive and short iron, and long hitters can cut the corner at the first.
The 185-yard par 3 third is to a relatively unguarded green, and the 396-yard par 4 fourth is only 321 yards from the whites. The green is small, but is flat and guarded only by small pot bunker.
The challenge increases at the 581-yard par 5 fifth that plays 472 yards from the whites. It’s reachable in two for big hitters, but bunkers heavily populate the fairway and green, which is elevated.
In addition to the tough par 3 sixth, the seventh and ninth holes stretch beyond 470 yards.
No. 9 plays 493 yards from the tips, making it the longest par 4 on the course.
Golfers do stand a great birdie chance at No. 8, a par 5 measuring 543 yards from the platinum tees and 445 from the white.
From all but the platinum tees, the first four holes of the back present excellent birdie chances with proper execution.
No. 10 is the shortest par 4 at a mere 343 yards from the tips. Water guards the entire left side and the green is elevated.
The 11th and 13th fairways are wide open from the tee. Sandwiched in between is reachable par 5 12th.
The final five holes feature two par 4s of at least 470 yards, along with the 227-yard par 3 15th.
Hole Nos. 16 and 17 are probably the most underrated at the Dye Club.
The dogleg right 16th is a par 5 that plays 574 yards from the tips and 494 yards from the whites.
It’s definitely a three-shot par 5 that places a premium on accuracy.
Even from the tips, a well-struck drive can scoot through the fairway, so club accordingly.
Conservation areas in front and behind the par 3 17th make club selection crucial. Short and left is about the only bail out area.
Though in North Myrtle Beach, the Dye Club is a short drive from Carolina Forest, thanks to S.C. 31.
It’s more easily accessible by taking the Water Tower Road exit on S.C. 31 and entering Barefoot Resort from the back entrance.
Players can also enter off U.S. 17 and crossing the swing bridge at Barefoot Landing. The course is on the right.