Golfers who’ve lived here a while no doubt remember when Wild Wing Golf Plantation was a 72-hole mega golf complex.
Named after indigenous birds in the area, the Hummingbird, Woodstork, Falcon and Avocet courses featured some of the finest golf along the Grand Strand.
In its heyday during the 1990s, the L93 bent grass greens were super slick and superb designs kept locals and visitors returning.
Sadly some things have changed.
The Falcon and Woodstork courses no longer exist, both closed for redevelopment.
Another nine of the Hummingbird closed and the remaining nine has been redesigned.
That leaves the Avocet, a 7,127-yard Larry Nelson design as the remaining original course. In my view, it’s also the finest.
Traditional in design and contemporary in presentation, the Avocet features wide landing areas, contoured fairways and generous greens that are now miniverde Bermuda.
Two holes—Nos. 8 and 17—are joined.
There’s also extensive mounding behind many of the greens that don’t really come into play, but do play tricks with depth perception.
The main defense at the Avocet is length.
At 7,127 yards, it’s the longest in the U.S. 501 corridor, edging The Legends-Parkland (7,108) and Myrtle Beach National-King’s North (7,017). Eight of 14 par 4s are longer than 400 yards and two are north of 470.
To my knowledge, it’s among the top five longest par 4s along the entire Grand Strand. The 499-yard par 4 fifth at Barefoot-Fazio takes that honor.
Next to the 493-yard ninth at the Dye Club, the 477-yard third, to my knowledge, is the longest par 4 along the entire Grand Strand.
The Avocet course features five sets of tees. In addition to the stern black tees, the course offers markers set at 6,858, 6,226, 5,870 and 5,230 yards.
From the tips, the course rating is 74.5 with a relatively modest slope of 132.
I like that Avocet is a continuous 18. The ninth hole does not loop back to the clubhouse, which helps with pace of play.
It’s also convenient because it makes it easier for golfers to walk on without a tee time.
Too many courses double tee to cram golfers on the course, limiting available tee times. Even in the summer months when it’s not busy, some courses seem stuck in the double tee rut, but not Wild Wing. They got me right out.
A beverage cart made frequent rounds, which is a must in the summer heat.
Carts come equipped with sand bottles. There’s also a driving range, a pitching area and the contemporary clubhouse boasts a large dining room and banquet hall.
There’s only one restroom, but it sets at the confluence of six holes.
I only saw a ranger between the first and second holes, but I see that as a plus.
There are times when I think rangers judge when they see me playing from the tips, not realizing my index is 2.4.
When I play golf, I want to lose myself in the round without feeling like marshals are spying on me.
The golf course
Though long, most fairways on the Avocet are fairly wide with the exception of the second, third and sixth.
Water and conservation areas come into play to some degree on 11 holes. Forced carries are required on few of them, however.
The aforementioned 477-yard third from the tips is unreachable in regulation if you miss the fairway, compliments of a conservation area that comes into play on the second.
There’s undulation on several holes. The 433-yard 10th plays uphill, with mounding left protecting balls from running through the fairway.
Nearby, the 195-yard par 3 17th plays from an elevated tee to a wide, albeit visually intimidating green.
My favorite holes were the 227-yard par 3 third and 470-yard 17th. I parred both en route to a 79 from the tips that included a double bogey on the 453-yard 18th.
No. 18 is actually a fine golf hole—a dogleg left risk-reward hole over a pond. I hit a perfect drive up the right side, and what I thought was a perfect 5-iron from 195 that landed on the back of the green and trickled down the hill.
With a front center pin position, I was literally dead.
I also liked the 308-yard par 4 14th that plays 265 yards from the white. It’s driveable for big hitters.
My least favorite holes were the par 4 second, par 3 sixth and par 4 seventh.
No. 2 at 422 yards sets up awkwardly from the back tee, making the fairway look more narrow than it really is.
I tend to find par 3s with ponds guarding the front and left portions of any green to be equally as awkward as my draw tends to find the hazard, as was the case with No. 6.
As for No. 4, at 464 yards I thought the fairway ought to be a little wider. Woods right and a large lake left make this fairway seem awfully claustrophobic for a hole of this length.
Wild Wing-Avocet has gone through several owners since opening in 1993. Most recently it was among the former National Golf Management courses sold to Chinese investors.
I’m glad to see that in spite of changing hands and residential development around the course, the Avocet has retained its character.