Golf Writer Andy Reistetter continues his exclusive "Play-Write" series in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with a mystical trifecta of golf courses- The Witch, The Wizard and The Man O' War. Returning to the "Golf Capital of the World" to celebrate a birthday with friends, some new and some old, was a memorable experience. How did the selection of these courses, played days before Halloween make the golf even more exhilarating? Join Reistetter as he reminisces on a not so frightful experience and discover mystical golf for yourself in Myrtle Beach.
You know how it goes… one friend calls up wondering what you are doing for your birthday. Then another one calls and baits you a bit with "we haven't played golf together lately, don't you want an opportunity to win your money back." Next thing you know you have booked ocean front accommodations, three days of golf on three mysterious courses and are heading to the range to tune up the game. After all it is my birthday… I know I am going to be lucky!
What do a witch, a man-o-war and a wizard have in common?
Let's see a witch can fly and cast spells over others. A wizard is someone that seeks to control and uses magical powers. Centuries ago a man-o-war was a powerful warship in the British Royal Navy when it was a big deal that sails replaced oars. It is also a jellyfish with no propulsion but with venomous tentacles that can deliver a wicked sting.
Let's start with The Witch, a target golf sort of course that winds through 500 acres of the most beautiful swamp you will ever see. Playing this golf course and witnessing the wildlife and scenic insights into the surrounding marshes will definitely cast a spell over you. While I did not witness any witches flying around even though it was their enchanting time of the year, my flat blade accounted for a few grounded birdies.
My favorite hole on The Witch was No. 9 because it is pure target golf. Only 344 yards from the white tee markers I hit a hybrid to safety on the island fairway. Though I missed the green with my 9-iron and failed to get up-and-down for par I felt successful in that I did not let her intimidate me to failure. On the practice facility, I enjoyed trying to hit the witch holding the flagstick for a marker at 175 yards as much as any approach shot on the course.
Though we might think The Witch and The Wizard go together, it is the Wizard and The Man O'War that are side-by-side in the Land of Myrtle Beach. Separated by likely the largest lake in the area, water is also what defines the difference between these two golf courses.
The Wizard is a links style golf course with bodies of water coming into play on only four holes though in dramatic fashion on No. 1 and the final three finishing holes. With hillocks galore and significant elevation changes, if you get out of position a wee bit it is likely to result in a blind shot. Loyal to its historic origins the clubhouse appears to be the ruins of an old Scottish castle. My favorite hole is the par-4 9th hole with large hillocks and gorse guarding the slight dogleg right and a memorable approach shot towards the castle in the distance.
True to its aquatic heritage, Man O' War has water in play on thirteen holes, most noticeably encompassing the greens on the par-4 14th and the par-5 15th, the world's only golf course with back-to-back island greens. Though a man's course, the ladies can play from 5,033 yards with only two forced carries on tee shots at the par-3 6th and 15th holes. Of course, like the men there are four par-4 approach shots on the second nine over water at the 10th, 11th, 14th and 18th. My favorite hole was surprisingly the 558-yard (from the whites) par-5 8th hole with its gentle meandering fairway and stately pine trees down the right hand side. No, Andy did not make birdie there.
In reality what these three golf courses have in common is their architect Dan Maples and the man who hired him, Claude Pardue. Maples is a legendary architect and builder with family ancestry dating back to the construction of Pinehurst in 1895. Prolific in the Carolinas he likes to design golf courses that players remember. Mission accomplished for sure!
Claude Pardue who first came to golf course ownership in Pinehurst will tell you his passion is business and he likes to build successful business operations. The creation of the Witch, Wizard and Man O' War is the result of a thorough market analysis. The mystical success is really no mystery- he found the right land, the right architect and built three golf courses that are not only playable but fun to play. Each package round comes with lunch and two beers if you had a difficult first nine.
While there is no doubt that Pardue is a golf marketer extraordinaire. Who else would commission their nephew to write and record a catchy theme song entitled "I Love The Witch?" Claude Pardue is a humble man at heart and directs his 100 employee, three golf course operation towards charity through the Pardue Children in Need Fund. With a mission of "providing joy to kids who have little joy in their lives," the headliner fundraising event is the Christmas golf tournament.
As in the Land of Oz, there is always a happy ending playing mystical golf in Myrtle Beach. For me it was a birthday night out at the Alhambra Theatre being entertained by dancers, musicians and singers in One, The New Show. Laughing hysterically at comedian Grant Turner as Ricky Mokel, the hilarious stage hand, was a fun way to celebrate with friends.
Oh and by the way, I did win "some" of my money back and "then some," which basically paid for my room at the Sea Mist Oceanfront Resort. If golf can be mystical in Myrtle Beach, then life can be magical too!
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer as well as a Spotter, Research and Broadcast Assistant for The Golf Channel, NBC and CBS Sports. He spends time on all four major American golf tours- the PGA TOUR, Champions, Nationwide and LPGA Tours.
Reistetter resides within two miles of the PGA TOUR headquarters and the home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
A lifetime golfer, Andy enjoys volunteering at the World Golf Hall of Fame and THE PLAYERS while pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it.
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Contact Reistetter by e-mail at AndyReistetter@gmail.com