April 30, 2004
Many Cape Region golfers give a little boost to their return to the sport each spring with a trip south to golf destinations such as Myrtle Beach or Virginia Beach. The courses are often unfamiliar and more difficult than the local layouts, but the opportunity to put together several rounds of golf in a short period can help speed up the process of restoration.
It’s also a lot of fun. Last week I joined Kevin Conlon, Nick DelCampo, and nine other friends for five rounds of golf in the Carolinas.
We first met in Southport, North Carolina at the ferry boat landing for Bald Head Island. One of our group is a member at Bald Island Club (910-457-7310), and he graciously made the arrangements for us to play his home course.
A 25-minute ride across the Intracoastal Waterway at Cape Fear led to this beautiful spit of land where no cars are allowed. A little tram took us to the club and we were soon on our way.
This is a beautiful but frequently punishing golf course. We’d been warned that players often can’t see the trouble they can hit into, and that proved all too true.
My best shot came at the 187-yard par-3 16th hole. It’s a hilltop-to-hilltop shot, with steep banks leading down to ponds on both sides, and with a great view of the Atlantic Ocean from the tee box. I hit a 2-wood into a 20-mph headwind that stopped on the back fringe 25 feet from the hole, and made par.
I also lost several golf balls during that round, something I hardly ever do, but I’d play that course again anytime.
We then traveled to Pawley’s Island, at the southern end of Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand. Our second round was at The Tradition Golf Club ((843-237-5041).
As they say, “water came into play” too many times for the sake of a good score. Nonetheless, a birdie and a few pars helped sooth ruffled feathers from duffed shots that skidded into ponds. The course was pretty and heavily wooded, but recovery shots were still possible from under the trees on most holes.
Our third round took place where we stayed, at Pawley’s Plantation (843-237-6200), a Jack Nicklaus design. The course meanders out among the Low Country marshland and back into a forested area, with gorgeous homes looking out on most fairways.
Two holes use a bulkheaded levee for their tee boxes, and too many of us plopped our shots into the reeds. On the other hand, there were just enough pars to make us think that our games weren’t in complete shambles.
We then tried the popular Mike Strantz layout at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club (800-483-6800). A staffer told me that every tee time from now until Memorial Day is reserved, and we could see why. It’s not a long course, but there are plenty of challenges awaiting the bogey golfer. Dramatic greenside elevation changes and large waste bunkers are not unusual here, and the live oaks and Spanish moss are also beautiful distractions.
The getaway round was at a group favorite, Heritage Club (800-552-2660). Accurate approach shots are a must here, in order to avoid long difficult putts on the remarkably undulating greens. Players also share the course with alligators that enjoy sunning themselves in the fairways and rough.
Snapping turtles are the Cape Region equivalent, of course, but somehow the excitement level just isn’t the same, is it?
Cape golfers win again
On April 22 the Cape Henlopen Vikings won another match at Rehoboth Beach Country Club, beating Seaford 171-196. As with the recent Milford game, Cape’s consistent team play overcame a medalist effort from the other side, as Seaford player Ryan Cook shot a one-over par 37.
Andy Lee and Brian Davidson had the best performances for the Cape squad, with a pair of 41s. Brett Hertel’s 44 and John Purple’s 45 completed the team scoring.