True Blue Golf Club (Pawleys Island, SC on 01/04/16)

I ended my Mrytle Beach trip with a bang by playing True Blue on my way out of town! Actually, I went out the way to get there! Most of my Myrtle Beach golf has been centered between Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach, as that is where I have stayed both times while in the area. Pawleys Island is about 30 miles south of Myrtle Beach and not all that convenient for me to get to because I’m driving in from Virginia. From points south, Pawleys Island is easier to get to. Anyway, True Blue has been one of the courses in the area that I’d been wanting to play since I moved to the East Coast!

True Blue typically gets ranked as one of the top public courses in the state and is across the parking lot from Caledonia, which also gets ranked well. I didn’t get a chance to play anywhere else this far south on my trip, but you can bet that Caledonia is on my list for next time! I really just flipped a coin to pick True Blue versus Caledonia and don’t think you could go wrong either way. Both are designed by the late Mike Strantz and I’m a huge fan of his work! Playing another Mike Strantz course was my main reason for wanting to play True Blue or Caledonia!

Strantz only designed a handful of courses and I’ve had the pleasure of playing four other ones located in Virginia and North Carolina! So far I’ve played Stonehouse and Royal New Kent in Virginia and Tot Hill Farm and Tobacco Road in North Carolina. The first Strantz course I played was Royal New Kent back in 2010 and have made sure to go out of my way to find a Strantz course whenever possible!

Strantz is known for his unconventional designs and golfers either seem to love his work or hate it, there aren’t many opinions in the middle of those extremes. Strantz uses funny shaped greens (think kidney shaped greens or greens shaped like letters of the alphabet), super deep bunkers, wild undulation on large greens, and it seems that every hole has an element of risk/reward to it. Strantz also incorporates blind shots, uses angles to add difficultly, and lets you hit multiple clubs into the greens depending on the day’s pin location. I think his work is pure genius because of the visual trickery that goes on, when there are lots of “easy” shots (especially tee shots). True Blue offers all of these things and was great fun to play! I’ll add that you can check out my reviews of the other courses too for an idea of what to expect. Just head over to my new page for all the active links.

This part of “Myrtle Beach” was more congested than I thought. I expected a relaxed, laid back atmosphere outside the course property but it was more like chaos! I had an early morning tee time, so it was quieter when I arrived at the course but when I was leaving around noon, there was car after car zipping by on Highway 17! That seems to be the only major road through the area so please be careful if making a left turn to get to or from the course. Considering how hectic it was such a short distance away, True Blue is located in a little bubble of bliss! The course is set back behind a large group of trees, which I think help block outside noise. The course works it way around maybe a half dozen lakes and around some condos. The condos can be seen from a few holes, but were never a bother to me.

I think the water hazards and the all the sand are the features that define the playability and the look for True Blue! There is more water here than I recall at the other Strantz courses that I’ve played. Water comes into play on about a third of the holes and is used to create the risk/reward options that so many golfers love. There is an island green, a horseshoe par 5 around a lake, and then the closing holes could be a potential scorecard disaster with water running the length of each hole. On the other holes there are a lot of waste areas and bunkers that give the course a great look. The bunkers are often used to hide lines and in some cases can keep the ball in play. Overall, True Blue is a beautiful looking course and one where you can play as conservative or as aggressive as you’d like. If you opt for the conservative play then slopes on the greens can feed the ball towards pin locations.

The conditions at True Blue were very good considering all the recent rain that the course has had! The maintenance crew had done everything they can by mowing the fairways, at least where they could without causing damage. You can see the freshly cut grass in the fairway on the 5th! The greens were quick and rolled pure, they were some of the best rolling greens that I’ve played during my couple Myrtle Beach trips. I paid $90 during the off-season and if it was drier, it would have been worth the price. The game is tough enough when the conditions are perfect, the dampness just adds another element of difficulty. That comment isn’t specific to True Blue, I just ended up disappointed with the weather on this trip.

No doubt, True Blue is a great course and worthy of its high ranking among the Myrtle courses. It is brilliant looking and designed by one of my favorite designers! I will say that if you’ve played some of Strantz’s other courses, don’t expect to be blown away by True Blue. At times, I thought it was a bit dull compared to Tobacco Road, Tot Hill Farm, and Royal New Kent. Obviously, the flatter coastal location has plenty to do with that. I also think there is an opportunity for the course to implement some combo tees. I knew that the Blues (73.0/136/6812) would be way too much for my game in soggy conditions so I played the White tees which are 71.1/132/6375. I’ll say from there that I had too many short irons approaches to appreciate the design of the holes.

If you’ve never played a Strantz course, True Blue is a great one to get under your belt. I’ve found some deals at Barefoot, so out of everything that I’ve played in Myrtle I’d give their courses the nod for my favorites. But, True Blue isn’t far behind.

#1: (499 yard par 5):

The 1st is ranked as the hardest hole on the course, so hopefully you had some time to get loose! Although from the white tees it wasn’t much trouble for me. It isn’t long from these tees and the fairway is wide for the drive and the layup. The green is one of the flatter ones on the course, so it could be a chance to run a putt in to begin the day. The only trouble is a creek that runs around the front and sides of the green and deep greenside bunkers.

1-11-2

#2 (316 yard par 4):

The 2nd, even though it is the shortest par 4 on the course, probably isn’t driveable.The fairway is extremely wide and narrows quite a bit until it runs out ~100 yards into the green. It is probably going to be just a layup for most off the tee. Playing to the left side of the fairway leaves a better angle into a crazy green. The green is a almost in the shape of an upside down “L” and surrounded by sand. It is a good thing that the hole is so short because hitting anything other than a short iron into the green could be borderline impossible! The back half of the green is higher than the front

2-1 2-2

#3 (141 yard par 3):

The 3rd is a risk/reward par 3 and everything about it sums up why I love Strantz designs! Visually, it looks stunning! The green is surrounded by water and sand so all the colors contrast nicely. It also allows for multiple clubs to be hit into the odd shaped green, no matter where the pin is located (all depending on how aggressive someone wants to be). There is a narrow neck that basically separates the green into front right and back left sections. The wind was swirling and I had the perfect club to the front right section, but not one to get all the way back to the flag. So, I took a safe line and played to a fat part of the green, then two putted from long range. Someone else in the group went right at the flag and was left with a short birdie putt. If someone wants to fire at a back left flag the green slopes from right to left back there so they don’t need to challenge as much of the water as it would seem.

3-1 3-2

#4 (493 yard par 5):

The 4th is the shortest par 5 at True Blue, but I think its the best! It is a horseshoe par 5 that goes to the left and across (or around) a lake. It plays shorter than the yardage so it could be reachable. I hit 3 wood off the tee and actually had a chance to go for the green if I wanted because I ended up on the left half of the fairway. If you do go for it, then make sure to hit it solid as it all carry over the water. I found the layup very difficult because I couldn’t get comfortable with how much water I wanted to carry. The angle for the layup dramatically narrows the fairway. It is another hole where you can be as aggressive, or as conservative, as you’d like.

4-1 4-2

#5 (396 yard par 4):

The 5th is a mid-length par 4 that is pretty straight from tee to green. However, the fairway sits out to the right. If someone challenges the left waste bunker off the tee then that leaves a better angle into the green. If the tee shot is played out to the right (the safe play) then someone has to deal with a waste bunker that guards the green to the right. Like most Strantz holes the tee shot has an element of risk/reward and is pretty wide if you hit it the proper distance. Unless you have the perfect club I’d favor the left side of the green.

5-1 5-2

#6 (383 yard par 4):

The 6th has two greens so pay attention to which one is in play that day! We played to the right green which is a shorter hole, but has a harsher angle on the approach and a smaller green. The fairway gets skinny so it will probably be just a layup club off the tee, no matter which green is in play. I had just a wedge into the right green and still made a bogey. That green slopes hard from left to right and falls off into a chipping area left of the green. That’s where I hit it and was left with a shot from below green level. I decided to bump and run it which worked out well, but you could flop it too depending on the lie.

6-1 6-2

#7 (151 yard par 3):

The 7th isn’t too daunting of a par 3, at least on the scorecard. The hole isn’t too long, but it has a tricky green complex. The green is wide but not very deep and has an elevated shelf on the right side. The bunker short of the green is extremely deep and there is a chipping area and another bunker over the green that could come into play. I ended up in that front bunker and couldn’t even see the flag! And I’m a tall guy!

7-1 7-2

#8 (341 yard par 3):

The 8th is a short par 4 that doglegs around a waste area. The hole features a classic Strantz tee shot because much of the preferred landing area, even with a layup club, is blind. I’d suggest picking a line between the two little pines in the bunker and trying to carry it ~220 yards. That’s the shot that I hit and ended up with just a short iron approach. It is just one of those holes where you have to trust that Strantz put a lot of short grass where you cannot see it! The green is elevated and repels shots with some false edges so it isn’t what I would call an easy wedge shot. The nice thing is that the green is larger than it looks from the fairway.

8-1 8-2

#9 (517 yard par 5):

The 9th is a bit of a quirky par 5 because there is a hazard that occupies some of the layup area. That makes it super important to find the fairway on this dogleg right. A good line is probably right at that pine tree in the center of the picture. It is a wide fairway, but if you hit a crooked drive (like me!), you might not be able to clear the hazard on the layup. I was forced to layup short of the hazard and had a long iron for my 3rd on what should be an easy par 5. The green is tucked between some bunkers and a mound to the left so it isn’t the most accessible with a long club. Short and right leaves the best view of the green. The left side of the green has a higher tier.

9-1 9-2

#10 (559 yard par 5):

The 10th is a long par 5 where there isn’t too much strategy, at least compared to the other holes at True Blue. The hole doglegs right and the fairway is one of the widest on the course, for both the tee shot and the layup. The layup is blind because of a a row of cross bunkers that need to be carried. However, if someone clears those the ball will end up in the fairway. There is a hazard short of the green that needs to be carried on the third and the left side of the fairway leaves the best angle into the wide green.

10-1 10-2

#11 (130 yard par 3):

The 11th is another brilliant little par 3! The defining feature of the hole is the green with its slopes. The front half of the green slopes from right to left so I’d try to be below the hole. The back half of the green looked flatter, but it was elevated. An accurate short iron can result in a birdie, but beware because the green is surrounded by sand! This is the easiest hole on the course.

11-1 11-2

#12 (371 yard par 4):

The 12th is similar to the 5th, but the fairway sits off to the left in this case. The fairway narrows the farther that you hit it off the tee and challenging the right half of the fairway leaves the best angle into the green. It is another green with a back level.

12-1 12-3

#13 (381 yard par 4):

The 13th is a par 4 with another wide fairway. The left half of the fairway actually slopes towards the center (off the waste bunker). The green is framed by some mounds long, sand short, and the surface cannot be seen from the fairway. The left side of the green is higher than the right so plan accordingly.

13-1 13-2

#14 (138 yard par 3):

The 14th is another par 3 that offers an opportunity to hit a laser short iron. In case you didn’t do so on a couple of the earlier par 3’s, of course! The green is decent sized, but it has a narrow neck that separates the front right from the back left. There is plenty of sand in play so only a precise short iron will be rewarded. Much of the front right section slopes away from the player so I had to get creative since I was in-between clubs. I ended up playing 20 feet away from the hole to utilize a small upslope. So, as usual, there are plenty of lines available.

14-1 14-2

#15 (577 yard par 5):

The 15th is the longest par 5 at True Blue from the white tees. The tees were up when we played it which made it much easier because our drives played to the widest part of the fairway. However, if the tees were in their normal spot then it would have been a narrower tee shot with the angle of the fairway and waste bunkers on each side. The layup should play out to the right and to the top of a rise before the third plays into a wide green. The green isn’t very deep though considering that it has a false front and falls off into a chipping over the back. In my opinion, the 15th is one of the course’s least interesting holes.

15-1 15-2

#16 (181 yard par 3):

The 16th is a long par 3 with water in play! It is all carry to the front of the green unless playing out to the left. The water curls around the right side of the green which I couldn’t see from the tee, so the right half of the green isn’t one that I’d want to challenge often. The green slopes from back to front so a solid shot shouldn’t release much once it lands.

16-1

#17 (395 yard par 4):

The 17th is the #2 handicap and plays close to some condos. It isn’t the most scenic hole, but it should be paid attention to because of all the water in play. The water is off to the right and can catch sliced tee shots. The fairway is large though so I didn’t have any trouble finding it. I’ll add that the bigger hitters might want to layup because the water cuts into the narrowing fairway, starting around the 150 marker. The second shot plays over the water to the green, but there is plenty of room short and left of the green to bail if you don’t have the right club.

17-1 17-2

#18 (406 yard par 4):

The 18th is a tough closing hole. It is actually pretty similar to the 17th, just with the water on the left. The tees were up when we played and I hit a 3 wood to keep it short of the water which jets into the fairway. You probably don’t want to leave less than 120 yards into the green as that risks running through the widest section of fairway. There is some strategy on the tee shot though. The right side leaves a better angle into the green, but golfers will face a hook lie. The left side of the fairway leaves a flatter stance, but the approach has to carry more water. The green slopes from right to left and there is a big ridge (that slopes off the front right bunker) so a shot with the correct spin could feed left. There is also a chipping area over the green which didn’t look fun to play from!

18-1 18-3

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