Ocean Point Golf Links at Fripp Island Resort: An Atlantic-view bonanza
FRIPP ISLAND, S.C. - There are two things you'll remember about Ocean Point Golf Links at Fripp Island Resort: the gorgeous ocean views and the deer.
Without question, Ocean Point Golf Links, designed by George Cobb, offers some of the best ocean vistas on the East Coast. It debuted in 1964, and the golf course hasn't changed much, but it hasn't had to.
It relies on its oceanic draw and a clever golf course. About 15 years ago, the course elevated some tees, not so much for the golf, but to provide better vantage points from which to see the ocean. One gets bird's-eye views from No. 9, 14 and 18, particularly. The views truly are spectacular.
Ocean Point Golf Links: Deer crossing
Fripp Island also has deer like some golf courses have squirrels. Each time I've played there, no matter the time of day, I've had to wait for deer to cross one fairway or another before proceeding.
Because it's a small island - about 3,500 acres, with no escape - the deer population has grown excessive. The state DNR is trying to cull the herd by injecting the animals with contraceptives, so you'll notice each critter has a red ear tag.
Other than frequent deer crossings, the primary obstacle on the golf course is water. It crosses in front of the green three times on the front alone, and half of the par 3s on the course are water carries. In fact, sand comes into play on the fairway only twice on the entire golf course. Bunkers guard many greens but not the fairways.
Course strategy is shot placement, not length, as the course stretches over only 6,556 yards from the tips with a 73.8 slope and 139 rating. If you're astray, you'll be donating your golf ball to the gators residing in the many fairway-length ditches. To your benefit, though, the fairways are flat and give you an accurate roll.
But whereas the fairways are kind, the greens are not. They are target greens that rarely exceed 30 yards in any one direction. For example, the green on par-3 No. 11, which is pretty lengthy at 141 to 171 yards, is only 20 yards deep. That’s a challenge, especially since the three bunkers surrounding it each appear to be about the same size.
And with the salt-resistant paspalum greens, your ball will pick up some speed on the way to the hole and perhaps past it. Yup, this course is all about accuracy and putting, rare attributes for a resort course.
"This course is a huge test with the wind, especially with the small greens," said Todd Strattan, resident golf professional at the Ocean Point course. "That and the ocean views. Those are what bring people back."
Ocean Point Golf Links at Fripp Island Resort: The holes
The first hole puts you on notice that this is a water course. From the tee, water is close up left and further on right, with a water carry to the green. Look over your shoulder to the right, and you’ll see the huge pond fronting the next hole, a par 3. Water, water everywhere.
The golf course gets drier for 3 and 4, with narrow fairways straight on to the greens. Water arises again on 5 and 6, both with water crossing in front of the greens.
The fifth hole is the most strategic of the holes, with distance and placement key to having a feasible approach to the tiered green. Beware pin placement on several holes, because a few greens are kidney-shaped, wrapped around bunkers.
The par-3 seventh is one of the longest par 3s I've played, ranging from 218 to 160. There's little in the way, other than length. However, if you stray left, you could bound down the cart path into the drink or if right, into a large bunker near the green.
No. 9 is the aforementioned oceanfront hole. It's hard to keep your mind on your game with such a view to your right and a pond that scarfs up balls on the left. It doesn't rank as the hardest, but it could on a newbie's round.
The golf course winds up with one more shot at the ocean at the end of the short par-5 No. 18 with a little trouble near the green, but, primarily, it’s a hole that will bring you back. It's a low-scoring hole with an amazing view of the Atlantic. Yeah, you'll want to play Ocean Point again.
Ocean Point Golf Links at Fripp Island Resort: The verdict
The Ocean Point Golf Links at Fripp Island Resort is a beautiful, unique course with great views of the ocean. You'll see a lot of water fowl, alligators and deer.
However, the drawback to the course is the very overt presence of the water treatment plant on No. 12 and 13. Yes, they had to put it somewhere on the island, but it is unexpected.
Luckily you'll shake it off, come No. 14, which offers another great view of the ocean. On the course, your game and your eyeballs will get a workout.
Tom Thomas, of Pennsylvania, comes to Fripp Island each winter. He considers the course fair and "for me, it's too narrow," he said with a smile.
Cody Sparks played for the course for the first time this year. "I thought the greens were wonderful. They're fast, they're straight. Once you learn the course, it's fair. You have to get used to the water, and when your GPS tells you a distance, you have to believe it."
As for the views, "There's nothing like it. There's a scenic vista on every hole," Sparks said.
Fripp Island Resort
The gated island has about 1,400 homes, ranging from mansions to condominiums and a resort atmosphere.
Amenities are available only to residents and resort guests, so the resort card is the key that unlocks services on the island, from restaurants to the racquet club and the two golf courses. The most popular transportation mode is golf cart, and each year, there's a summer parade of them.
March 17, 2010