Location: Pawleys Island, S.C.
Course architect: Michael Strantz
Tee — Yardage l Rating / Slope:
Black — 6,526 l 71.8/ 138
Blue — 6,121 l 69.5 / 134
White — 5,710 l 67.6 / 127
Red — 4,957 l 64.5 / 120
Saturday morning green fee: $$$$ [$150-$199]
Caddie service: No
Walker friendly: No
Fairways: Common Bermudagrass
Greens: Champion Bermudagrass
Starter: Once a 2,500-acre rice plantation that produced 700,000 pounds per year in the mid-1800s, beautiful Caledonia is as prestigious a public course as you'll find in the Myrtle Beach area. It continually receives awards and can be found among the top five in the state. Centered by a lovely antebellum-styled clubhouse, this rolling course is flanked by pines and hardwoods and challenges even the most accurate hitters with numerous sand bunkers and water hazards. Designed by award-winning architect Mike Strantz, this course is ranked on national top 100 lists by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine. Service and maintenance are also top-notch.
Play because …: Caledonia will easily be the best and most memorable public golf course you’ll play in the Myrtle Beach area, and that’s saying something, because there are more than 80 public golf courses in a 60-mile stretch along the Grand Strand. When finished, leave time for a cup of award-winning chowder and enjoy the view across the former rice fields. Also, make a reservation to go fishing like the Golf Digest staff always did on its annual getaway to Myrtle Beach for more than 20 years.
Takeaway: Caledonia is one of the most beautifully aesthetic golf courses, with $40,000 spent each year on horticulture. The entrance drive alone brings about thoughts of arriving at Augusta National. Once on course, the layout is tight and challenging. It’s built on just 150 acres. The sprawling live oaks create a canopy effect, and the clubhouse setting is second to none. Designer Mike Strantz is one of the more underrated architects, and was an up-and-comer who worked mostly in the Carolinas. He designed nine courses (six in the Carolinas) before dying of cancer in 2005.
THE RATINGS [1 to 10 scale; 10 being the highest]
Food | Beverage: 8.5
Pro shop: 9.0
Pace of play: 8.0
THE COURSE | Scorecard
Best par 3: No. 11 [167 | 153 | 150 | 135 yards]
There is a bit of a risk-reward strategy from the tee box. A creek winds along the left side and curves in front of the green, but risk getting close to the water and there is likely a better chance at birdie. It’s always a good idea to take one more club when the hole location is in the center or back position. This is a beautiful hole, both visually and architecturally.
Best par 4: No. 18 [383 | 377 | 352 | 301 yards]
Undoubtedly, the 18th at Caledonia is one of the most unique golf holes on the Grand Strand. It’s not overly long, but it will take nerves of steel to hug the right side of this fairway from the tee box. Water runs down the length of the right side. The water will need to be cleared on the approach shot to a long left-to-right sloping green in front of a striking antebellum clubhouse.
Best par 5: No. 8 [528 | 512 | 477 | 429 yards]
Big hitters will be able to clear the church pew bunkers on the right, giving them a teasing chance at reaching the green in two. The more prudent play, however, is to stay left, then lay up to a safe yardage in front of the water that protects the green. That should leave a short wedge, but a birdie is still unlikely because of the two-tiered slopping green. Take a par and be happy.
Rater: Craig Smith