Sea Trail Golf Resort: Dan Maples Course (Sunset Beach, NC on 01/01/16)

I had a four day weekend to begin the new year and decided to kick it off with some golf! This was my second trip to the Myrtle Beach area and I played six rounds of golf this time around. I wasn’t too impressed with Myrtle on my first trip out here, now three years ago. I didn’t hate it, but the terrain just didn’t “wow” me. I’ve got to say that the golf courses grew on me this time and I’m looking forward to another trip!

The last time around I took I-95 and then got on Highway 501 to get into town and played courses in North Myrtle Beach. This time I took a different route and geographically, spread out my courses more. I got off I-95 earlier and took I-40 to Wilmington, where I stayed on Thursday night. On Friday morning I was up early to make my way down to Sea Trail which is one of the many “Myrtle Beach” courses located near the southern beaches of North Carolina. There are a couple super nice courses located in this area, but I already had some nice ones penciled in over the next couple days, just a bit further south.

My primary goal was to try to find a swing the first day and I always find that easier to do if I’m not spending the big bucks! I paid $35 through a third party website to play the Maples course at the resort. There is also a Rees Jones and a Willard Byrd course to pick from, but I didn’t have a preference.

I guess I’ll get the bad news out of the way first. Apparently the Myrtle Beach area got hammered with rain in early October and then hasn’t caught a break since. Depending on where you look the area received anywhere from 15 to 23 inches of rain during early October. I knew that Charleston got hit pretty hard, but I didn’t realize that Myrtle was affected so much. All that rain made the conditions a mess at most of the courses that I played! Had I realized that before my trip, I probably would have hit up an alternate destination.

You probably shouldn’t use this post to gauge conditions at Sea Trail as my experience was less than stellar. I hit my tee shot on the 1st hole in the fairway and barely could see it when I stood over it! After I cleaned the ball and placed it, it still wasn’t a good lie because it started to fall down towards the roots of the grass. I’d estimate that half of the fairways were at 3/4 inch while the other half were more playable. There were just spots that the mowers couldn’t get to or they’d probably do some damage to the turf because of their weight! For the course’s sake I sure they get some good weather!

The rest of the course was in fine shape for the price. You’ll notice some of the tees don’t look, but everything else was full and lush. The greens were cut short and rolled well, but they were slow. I ran home some putts and was happy with them. I’d say they were a good speed considering that I couldn’t spin it from the fairways or land any shots short of the greens.

Conditions aside, the Maples Course was what I had hoped for on my first round of the trip! The course starts out with two shorter par 4’s that allowed me to warm up before a stretch of tougher holes later. The Maples Course plays through the resort which has condos and homes throughout the property. From the looks of it, the other two courses have a similar routing. This didn’t bother me much as the residences were fairly well hidden by trees lining the edges of the rough. The pictures make the holes look narrow, but I was able to find my ball the majority of the time. A handful of holes play near the Calabash River, but even with them, it is an average routing at best. The course let me work on my driver and scramble so it turned out to be a good spot to get loose!

I have no idea what I was thinking, but I played the Blue tees which are 6797/71.5/134! Even though it was playing longer than the yardage, I enjoyed the mix of distances on the par 4’s. The par 4’s are the highlight of the course as they range from 315 to 455 yards. There are five “short” par 4’s so there is plenty of variety! The stretch from the 7th to the 10th is all par 4’s that play 410 yards or more and tested my game. The best part of my day was making it through those holes with three pars and a bogey! The par 5’s are all long and the par 3’s are all about the same distance, so those are a weaker part of the design. The biggest challenge on the Maples Course very well could be finding the small greens in regulation. There are some tiny, almost temporary sized, greens!

The course was designed by Dan Maples and I’ve played a half dozen of his other courses. I really want to like his work, but normally there are one or two holes at each course that have me scratching my head! The 7th, a 410 yard par 4, is that goofy hole on the Maples Course! The tee shot plays from a chute of trees and doglegs almost ninety degrees left, but not until around the 150 yard marker. From there the approach plays over water to the green. If you don’t hit a perfect tee shot then you might have to hit a high snap hook or just pitch down the fairway. I think it would be a better hole if some trees were cut down on the left side and the tees moved up!

There’s no doubt that I would have enjoyed the course more with firmer conditions, but it wasn’t a complete loss. I had an 8:45am tee time and was done by noon because no one was out. I guess a gloomy morning on New Year’s Day in an area with nearly 100 courses can cause that! If I’m in the area again and looking for some other budget courses then I wouldn’t hesitate to check out the other two courses.

#1: (315 yard par 4):

1-1

#2 (350 yard par 4):

2-1

#3 (185 yard par 3):

3-1 3-2

#4 (545 yard par 5):

4-1

#5 (180 yard par 3):

5-1

#6 (555 yard par 5):

6-1 6-3

#7 (410 yard par 4):

7-1

#8 (410 yard par 4):

8-1

#9 (455 yard par 4):

9-1

#10 (420 yard par 4):

10-1

#11 (178 par 3):

11-1

#12 (550 yard par 5):

12-1

#13 (345 yard par 4):

13-1 13-2

#14 (365 yard par 4):

14-1

#15 (575 yard par 5):

15-1 15-2

#16 (360 yard par 4):

16-1

#17 (198 yard par 3):

17-1

#18 (401 yard par 4):

18-1

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