By Michael Smith
It’s not every day I get to tee it up on a 7,000-yard goliath.
The nature of Grand Strand golf, particularly in the peak spring season, makes it difficult. So when my dad recently invited me to play Long Bay Golf Club recently, I jumped at the opportunity to play this popular course.
Long Bay is a big hitter’s dream, stretching to 7,025 yards from the championship tees. The Jack Nicklaus design off S.C. 9 in Longs also features tees at 6,593, 6,209, 5,715 and 4,944 yards.
But it’s not Long Bay’s length that makes this 74.3 course and 140 slope rating course so difficult.
It’s the greens.
The greens at Long Bay among the smallest at all Grand Strand golf courses. They’re also among the most well-guarded.Hardly is there a hole where the green isn’t guarded by water or multiple bunkers.
Most approach shots require forced carries.
It didn’t take long for my dad to take note of the course’s difficulty, particularly from the tips.
“The average golfer can’t break 100 out here,” he said.
Long Bay is one of 12 courses Chinese investors purchased last week for more than $19.2 million. Long Bay itself was bundled with Grande Dunes Resort Course and Pine Lakes, which together sold for $5.08 million.
My father and I played Long Bay in late March. The harsh winter was finally starting to break, but the Bermuda roughs remained largely dormant and the greens appeared to be painted.
Fairways, bunkers and tees were in excellent condition and the layout featured a great mix of dogleg left, right and straightaway holes.
One hole, the 433-yard par 4 16th, was in the middle of significant renovations to the tee boxes. A temporary tee was set up near the ladies tee, shortening the hole to about 300 yards.
Six of the other 12 par 4s measured more than 400 yards.
The 352-yard par 4 10th is perhaps the most iconic hole at Long Bay. Large waste areas flank the fairway and surround the green.
My favorite hole for the sheer challenge was the 472-yard par 4 third. I also birdied both par 5s on the front, which added to their appeal.
There were also strong par 3 holes, including the 203-yard 17th hole, which is over a conservation area and to an undulating green.
The 182-yard par 3 fifth was also a scenic hole over water. The only beef I had with this hole is that it played shorter than the posted yardage. My 5-iron into the wind flew the green by 20 yards.
The 156-yard par 3 13th is short, but there’s not much room for error to this island green.
You have to look hard to find any “bad” holes. I will say I wasn’t fond of the 492-yard par 5 15th, mainly for its green which had some bare spots.
The greens on the 401-yard par 4 third and 552-yard par 5 11th holes were extremely small, so much so they were nearly impossible to hold hitting anything more than a wedge into them.
Judging the correct distance was extremely difficult.