With many course designers, there is usually a story about a particular course, or a particular hole or, even a particular hole on a particular course. And, although he has yet to be “classified” as a course designer – probably because he is still competitive on the PGA Tour – Carolina native, Davis Love III has a story to tell with his design at The Barefoot Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC.
As the story goes, the original design of the 18th hole had the green located in its present position. When DL III came out to play the inaugural round, he found the green perched on top of the hill to the right. As people stood there waiting for Love to hit his approach shot into the green, they could see that Davis and his partner were pointing to different locations around the green. After finishing the hole, David Love III demanded the green be moved to its originally designed location, at the bottom of the hill, next to the water. The green was in fact moved to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars in construction costs.
In designing the Love Course at Barefoot Resort, David Love III has stuck to his Lowcountry roots. Wide open fairways and generous landing areas create a visually striking course that will challenge good players, and allow playability and enjoyment for average players. In keeping with a Carolina them, the green complexes are reminiscent of those at Pinehurst, with the added flavor of #2 thrown in for good measure. Over the years, The Love Course has received its fair share of accolades including Best Courses You Can Play by the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel, Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses” in 2005 (No. 38) and No. 1 in Golf Digest’s “Top 50 Courses of Myrtle Beach” in 2005.
The Love Course plays 7,047 yards from the back tees to a par of 72. Back here, the course rating is 75.1 with a slope of 139. Other tees offer distances between 5,335 and 6,542 yards. For me, the White Tees at 6,055 yards provided enough of challenge and still allowed me to retain a certain amount of dignity. The Whites carry a course rating of 69.8 for men with a slope of 123. There are five sets of tees with at least one to fit every level of golfer.
The “Carolina” feel of the Love Course carries on outside the playing areas of the course. Between the 3rd and 7th hole, you will find replicated ruins of an old antebellum plantation, adding to the Lowcountry feel and giving you a sense that there is more to this place than just a great golf course.
Most Memorable Hole: Number 18, Par 5, 534 yards (White Tees). A daunting par 5 that demands accuracy – and length – off the tee for the opportunity to get home in two. The green is not visible from the tee box; neither is much of the trouble that lies ahead on the left side. Favoring the right side of the fairway off the tee leaves the best angle to an elevated green and gives you more green to work with. The green is well guarded with sand traps dotting the landscape from about 90 yards in on the right and a large lake on the left. Should you choose to layup, favor the right side of the fairway as it starts to drop off to the water. A bad approach shot will still leave you with a fantastic visual memory of the clubhouse that frames your mental image of the 18th green.
Favorite Par 3: Number 11, 109 yards (White Tees). Regardless of which green is in play – there are two – this one remains a favorite. This very short par 3 plays over a large waste bunker to a small, elevated green which slopes of dramatically in the back and makes Royal Troon’s Postage Stamp Green look like a land mass. Choose the right club, make a good swing and there should be no problem.
Favorite Par 4: Number 16, 332 yards (White Tees). This short par 4 has a split fairway; the right side will cut off a little distance but not a lot. The tee shot requires a short carry over water as well as the avoidance of the sand trap and waste area in the middle of the fairway. Many golfers just let it rip and play the ball where it lies because it’s a short shot the rest of the way to the green. The elevated green is not very deep and the undulation in it will give many golfers fits.
Favorite Par 5: Number 2, 455 Yards (White Tees). Hit your tee shot down the left side of this short dogleg right par 5, and this can easily be a two shot hole. Hit it right (like I did) and big numbers (like mine) are possible. From the fairway, the approach shot plays slightly uphill to a small, elevated green protected on both sides of the front by traps. Low numbers (not mine) are possible.
Last Word: Of the four course designers at the Barefoot Resort in North Myrtle Beach, David Love III is the least recognized when it comes to course architecture. But I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that his course here is the favorite. After all, who better to design a course in the Lowcountry than one of their own – Davis Love III?
When I think of my golfing experience on the Love Course at Barefoot Resort, the Champion UltraDwarf greens will be the first thing I think of. And the second. First of all, I will remember the incredible shape they are in; true rolls that hold their lines with no wavering. The second thing I will remember about is how small they are in comparison to other greens in the area. They leave little room for error.
Also with respect to the greens: the majority of them are well elevated. Hit your approach shot over the green and you can easily be looking at a big number; some drop off severely on the sides as well.
The Love Course winds its way around seven sparkling lakes, and water hazards come into play in one way or another on 14 holes. Natural wetland areas come into play frequently as well. However, with a little course knowledge in knowing where to hit your tee shots on the par 5 holes, you have a better than average chance to score well.
For my money – and it takes a little more of it to play any of the courses at Barefoot Resort – the Love Course is a must play in Myrtle Beach. It’s a relaxing round of golf that won’t overtax you and, if played right, can leave you feeling good about your golf game. For more information on the Love course or any other course at Barefoot Resort, visit their website at www.barefootgolf.com.