Golf

Bob Gillespie

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Water, water everywhere: Man O’ War quenches – or drowns – golf hopes

Posted 10/14/2011 9:02:00 AM

If clubhouses are supposed to reflect the golf courses they serve, then Mystical Golf’s trio of properties and clubhouses in Myrtle Beach are perfect, each in its own way.

The Wizard, designed to resemble a Scottish links layout, features a replica of an ancient castle. The Witch’s clubhouse sits high on a hillcrest, nestled darkly among the old-growth trees that make up much of the course’s spooky terrain.

Then there’s Man O’ War, located across a lake from The Wizard on the same 500-acre property in Myrtle Beach’s Carolina Forest development (both courses opened in 1996, Man O’ War first by six months) but built to be an entirely different playing experience. Its rustic, rambling boathouse-like building rests on concrete pillars that support it above the lake’s waters, fitting for a golf course named for 18th-century warships – and one with water on every single hole.

Randy Broughton, the course’s general manager since 2007, acknowledges the 6,967-yard (longest of the Mystical Golf designs), par-72 course’s dominant feature. “But that’s not a negative,” said the 30-year veteran of the Myrtle Beach golf business said. “Yes, the water can penalize a bad shot. But it’s not like (water) is right on top of you every hole.”

True; with its wide fairways and tall trees that frame holes but are spaced such that they rarely offer a hazard to wayward shots, Man O’ War can be played and enjoyed “by all levels of player, from ladies on the red tees to seniors on the senior tees. They can all have a good time,” Broughton said.

But if the manmade lakes don’t come into play on every shot, it can seem that way at times. And when the water is a factor, it’s a deal-maker – or deal-breaker.

Take, for instance, the par-4, 433-yard (back tees) ninth hole, which Broughton calls his favorite. The dogleg left fairway is surrounded by water all the way to the green. “(The entire hole) is an island, and the wind is usually in play,” Broughton said. “It’s always a factor, so the hole can play so differently every time you play it.”

PGAGolf.com must agree. The website picked the ninth hole as its No. 2 choice in its “Hidden Gems of Myrtle Beach” feature – and had Broughton write up its description. “The wind, the route through the bunkers … and when you get to the large green, your work’s not done,” he said. “If you can two-putt from 30 feet” – not an uncommon occurrence, given the depth of the putting surface – “you’ve done good.”

The par-3 sixth hole, the par-4 10th and the par-4 11th all demand forced-carry approaches to their greens. Then there’s Man O’ War’s most distinct feature: the back-to-back, island-green 14th (par-4) and 15th (par-3) holes – according to owner Claude Pardue, the only consecutive island greens in the world.

“They’re visually beautiful – and intimidating,” Broughton said. “But the greens are big.”

Though Man O’ War has two par-5 holes (Nos. 8 and 13) that can play 600 yards from the back tees, perhaps the most impressive hole is the relatively short par-5 18th. Bunkers guard the tee-shot and second-shot landing areas, separated by an inlet that must be carried; three large bunkers also surround the deep, undulating green.

And all down the fairway’s left side … the lake, of course. It’s a fittingly aquatic ending for a course with a watery theme, and name.

For information and/or tee times, call (843) 236-8000 or click here.