Myrtle Beach golf: Use your imagination at Prestwick Country Club in Surfside Beach

By Ian Guerin, Contributor

SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. -- The unprepared don't get off easy: It could work as the next advertising slogan for Prestwick Country Club.

Prestwick Country Club - No. 3
The 470-yard third hole measures as the longest par 4 at Prestwick Country Club.
Prestwick Country Club - No. 3Prestwick Country Club - No. 4Prestwick Country Club - No. 9
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Prestwick Country Club

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Designed in the classic Scottish tradition, our masterful six-million dollar creation by Pete and P.B. Dye surrounds a sparkling 20 acre freshwater lake, bordered on the west by a 20,000 square foot colonial clubhouse. Prestwick features 8 holes where water comes into play.

18 Holes | Semi-Private golf course | Par: 72 | 7086 yards | ... details »

Tucked alongside several neighborhoods less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean along the Grand Strand, Prestwick C.C. could easily could fit inside the space of 15 or 16 holes at other layouts. Generally tight fairways -- complete with often-unforgiving tree lines -– require hitters big and small to drive true.

At least, that's how most of the non-regular golfers who head to Prestwick see it.

"It's been consistent all the way through -- a tough course," said Tim Braun, who made his yearly trek from the Toronto area to the Myrtle Beach area with two friends. "To me, the architecture of the course is really interesting, with the water. They've spent a lot of money on the actual landscape of the course."

Prestwick Head Professional Jay Smith declared the variants, especially near greens, as the most difficult part of the golf course.

"The second shots, the guys aren't used to all the movement around the greens and some of the big bunkers," Smith said. "They're not use to those kinds of lies. You have to use your imagination."

So for some, the tee shots offer the difficulty; for others, it's the approach.

Either way, it provides a challenge for all.

Prestwick Country Club: The golf course

There's a deception associated with built-up greens that make Prestwick C.C. a place where golfers must trust their distances. Most holes on this Pete Dye-designed golf course can appear significantly longer than their actual distance.

Combine a nice mix of pin placement, and your eyes can get the better of you if you're not careful.

Take the difference between No. 10 and No. 11, for instance. On the first of consecutive par 4s, a 373-yarder from the white tees, the golfer has no luxury to go anywhere but right down the middle of the tree-lined hole before the area around the green opens slightly.

Then on the significantly more open 344-yard 11th, rolling hills lead to a significantly longer appearance. It's one of the few Prestwick holes on which a slice or hook doesn't derail your pace.

Many of the other holes don't come with that description, although Braun and his playing partners, Allan Turner and Willie McCallum, said it could be much worse.

"It's surrounded by houses, but none of the houses get in the way here," Braun said.

The golf course measures 6,347 yards for the average player, with the back tees playing 7,086 and the women's set at 5,210.

Prestwick Country Club also recently completed a 10-year project to remove the centipede grass that originally made up most of the rough. Now, most of the area outside the fairway consists of a Bermuda hybrid. It has reduced the wear caused by heavy traffic at the partial-membership facility.

Smith said about 35 percent of the players at Prestwick are members.

Prestwick Country Club: Facilities and golf instruction

Prestwick C.C. offers full golf instruction, varying from clinics to one-on-one teaching. The club also features a putting green and a full-service restaurant with daily specials for members and non-members.

Members of the country club's golf packages receive access to the on-site tennis facility and Olympic-size swimming pool.

Prestwick Country Club: The verdict

The mid-level Prestwick County Club golf course probably isn't going to catch the best golfers off guard. Smith, in his 11th year as the club pro, realizes that.

But even for groups that play Prestwick on a somewhat regular basis, the differences between holes serve as a challenge. It's part of the club's appeal, and it explains why Braun, McCallum, Turner and others continue to return.

Ian GuerinIan Guerin, Contributor

Ian Guerin is a freelance writer and DJ living in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He's decent with the driver and putter; it's everything else in the bag that gives him trouble. Follow Ian on Twitter at @iguerin.

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