Ocean Creek Golf Club at South Carolina's Fripp Island Resort: A page from the Jungle Book, literally
FRIPP ISLAND, S.C. -- The golf courses on Fripp Island are not easy to access. You must be a guest at Fripp Island Resort or know someone on the inside. Either way, try to play both.
They're equally popular, but likely not among the same people.
"Most of what we find is a love-hate relationship," said Stuart Mitchell, general manager of Fripp Island Resort. "They love one course and hate the other."
While Ocean Point offers ocean views, Ocean Creek Golf Club journeys through the marsh. The size of the greens, though, represents their biggest difference.
Creek: large. Point: minute.
"They are two totally different courses," Mitchell said.
Randy LaGrone of Beaufort, S.C., prefers Ocean Creek Golf Club. "It's the scenic views on it," he said.
He enjoys Ocean Creek's par-3 sixth hole on Harbor River.
Bradley Bonville also likes Ocean Creek Golf Club.
"It opens up on the back," said Bonville, of Beaufort, "but it's very diverse. Some of the par 3s are short. Some are long. The other course is a little too short, and the greens are tiny over there."
Both golfers noted the palladum grass at Ocean Point Golf Links, while Ocean Creek remains covered with Bermuda, at its finest in the summer.
Only 265 families live year-round on Fripp Island include, but tens of thousands visit each year, staying among 1,800 units on the 3,500-acre Atlantic Ocean island. Membership at the clubs numbers 1,400, so it's a bit of a monopoly. If you live on the island and want to play golf -- or even eat at a club -- you'll need a membership, Mitchell said.
Ocean Creek Golf Club's tropical beauty
"The things that are unique about the Creek course are that it was designed by Love and you go over a number of dune lines," Mitchell said. "You'll notice that the trees are atop the dune lines. We moved very, very little dirt when we built that course."
Ocean Creek Golf Club, at just 6,586 yards from the tips, skillfully navigates tight quarters, between the marsh and housing that sit on opposite ends.
Players must work hard to navigate the course, too. For example, the first green features out-of-bounds stakes just 20 yards from the right side of the green. Other times, you may need to crawl under a nearby porch to retrieve your shot. Also, there's little space between holes. No. 2 and No. 18, near the tees, share a cart path, which then splits to each fairway.
As a result, you might visit a few fairways out of order and need to tune out activity on adjacent tracks.
But Love did a great job within the parameters. The fourth hole, for instance, a wee little, tricky par 4, includes large bowl in front of the green that claims anything short. The green itself features another bowl on the right side. From the wrong side of the green, it involves a lot of guesswork and a little luck to determine the oomph needed to get a ball out of that mess.
Another carnival ride comes on Ocean Creek Golf Club's par-3 15th. If you're short, a steep hill feeds your ball to the green. The 17th fairway delivers a roller-coaster ride, ensuring an up or downhill lie.
Throughout Ocean Creek Golf Club, tropical-like holes meander through the marsh. Disney filmed the 1967 movie "The Jungle Book" on site, noted by a plaque on No. 11. You can see the resemblance.
If your ball slides into the drink, leave it -- or risk an alligator encounter. The golf course is home to many gators, so hearty searches are dangerous and highly discouraged.
The sixth through eighth holes open to Harbor River, bringing the wind into play.
Ocean Creek Golf Club finishes with a deceptive 18th fairway. For first-time players, surprise discoveries await. The fairway is interrupted about 140 yards out, and if you stray from it, a wall of bunkers may disrupt your return route. It could make for a blind shot to the green, guarded in front by a mega-bunker and in the back by a sharp drop to the cart path.
Fripp Island Resort's Ocean Creek Golf Course: The verdict
You'll remember the marshes, the gorgeous strolls at Ocean Creek Golf Club or perhaps the rides along dozens of wooden paths built atop the marshes and tropical vegetation. It's a shot-making course, so long hitters might lose their advantage.
The golf course challenges your game and fills your memory with beautiful views and visions of alligators and deer.
May 27, 2010