When I returned to Island Green Golf and Country Club to tee it up for a review round in early May, I thought it was going to be a walk in the park.
The course is only 6,194 yards from the blue tees and 5,848 from the whites.
From the tips, only one par 5 is longer than 500 yards and five par 4s measure under 350 yards.
And the one and only other time I played Island Green in 2005, I matched by career low score of 71 and had a legitimate shot at breaking 70.
My, how times have changed.
I birdied the first hole, but it was a challenge after that as I struggled on the super narrow fairways, postage stamp greens and breezy conditions to break 80.
You can definitely leave your driver home. And if you’re long off the tee, you can probably give your 3-wood a rest as well.
A combination of tree growth and residential development has definitely tightened the fairways of this local’s favorite that nearly shut down for good.
Island Green closed for business for several months in 2012, threatening to become one of many Grand Strand courses to convert to residential development.
Bay Tree’s three courses, 45 holes at Wild Wing Plantation, Heron Point, Robber’s Roost are among the courses to close in recent years.
Wicked Stick Golf Links plans to close in September.
Island Green, formerly a 27-hole course located off S.C. 707, threatened to follow suit when it closed in 2011 until it was sold in December 2013, and reopened a short time later as an 18-hole course.
Since then, it’s regained its status as a local course. Outside play is welcome—in spite of the country club name, it’s not private—but locals make up an overwhelming amount of business.
For my review round, I paid a green and cart fee of $34, which is pretty standard for Grand Strand courses in May, the tail end of the busy spring season.
My tee time was at 8:30 a.m., and I was surprised that I was able to tee off by myself.
I didn’t run into a soul in front of me, but noticed quite a few foursomes teeing off as I circled back toward the clubhouse.
The fairways and a few greens appeared to be recovering from winterkill, which has hit some Grand Strand courses hard this spring after an unusually cold winter.
Only about four or five greens were affected, and the greens that weren’t rolled true and smooth.
The first green was one of the greens that were affected, but I rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt, so it wasn’t horrible.
I’m admittedly not a fan of tight golf courses. Ever since my junior golf days, I’ve always struggled with them.
I’m the kind of golfer who likes to pound it off the tee instead of laying up with irons or hybrids.
I will say I managed to par seven consecutive holes in a stretch that ran from the 481-yard par 5 fifth to the 463-yard-par 5 11th, a feat I attribute largely to getting up and down. A sound short game is critical to scoring at Island Green.
My favorite hole was the 530-yard par 5 seventh that plays 504 yards from the whites. It’s no less narrow than the other holes, but the right-to-left dogleg suited my eye since I prefer the draw.
The 386-yard par 4 14th and 326-yard par 4 15th were a little roomier off the tee than most holes. On these holes I hit 3-wood and driver, respectively.
Island Green gets its name from the signature hole, the 337-yard par 4 18th.
Both par 5s on the back nine ought to be reachable in two, but narrow fairways and doglegs all but take driver out of the bag.
A good par 5 should place the trouble near the green and not off the tee.
If you miss the fairway, there’s virtually no chance to go for the green in regulation. For that reason, it also wasn’t one of my favorite holes. I like to have a few options on a golf course, even when I’m in trouble.
As I walked off the 18th green, I gained a new respect for this course. Before teeing off I couldn’t figure out why it is sloped 135 from the tips and 130 from the whites.
But what Island Green lacks in length it gains in challenge from the tee. You’re dead if you’re not in the right position.
If you’re patient, however, and you are a consistent chipper and putter, it’s still possible to shoot a low number.