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Playing the Strantz double at True Blue and Caledonia

Playing the Strantz double at True Blue and Caledonia

Mike Strantz designed seven golf programs in his brief 50 years. Seven.

Two of them are at present closed. Stonehouse Golf Membership and Royal New Kent in Virginia have been closed in 2017 when Conventional Golf Properties, their proprietor since 2001, shuddered them and put them up on the market. Stonehouse stays closed nicely into 2018, and it is unsure if a purchaser will come alongside. Royal New Kent was bought in June 2018, and it is going to be restored and reopened in 2019.

That leaves 5 Strantz originals — and his renovations, together with at Monterey Peninsula Nation Membership’ Shore Course — as the solely fossilized report of his design magic.

Two of them are a 90-second drive from one another in Pawleys Island, S.C., simply south of Myrtle Seashore.

Caledonia Golf and Fish Membership, Strantz’s first solo challenge from 1994, and neighboring True Blue Golf Membership are the luminous programs in a Myrtle Seashore golf scene that has such a large spectrum of choices that they will begin to blur collectively. Caledonia and True Blue are a siren track to touring golfers who’ve performed sufficient Huge Three signature programs, seen sufficient RTJ and obtained the totality of Greg Norman’s design portfolio after strolling any of his programs. Strantz was totally different — radically so, even in his personal portfolio. He needed every golf expertise to be distinctive, and he knew mind-jarring design might elevate the psychological and religious reference to the recreation and make it stronger.

So, once I went right down to the Myrtle space in early November, I needed to expertise most Strantz, even with truncated daylight. I organized a Sunday double, beginning the day at True Blue and, with a 15-minute turnaround that may make most enterprise fliers chew their nervous fingernails, Caledonia for the sundown.

(Whereas not formally a Strantz unique, The Heritage Membership is closeby and has his fingerprints throughout it because of a 1993 renovation with proprietor Larry Younger’s son, Danny. The inexperienced charges are considerably decrease than Caledonia and True Blue, so you would play 54 in the summer time and get Max Strantz in a single day.)

I might performed True Blue for the first time in 2017, and it was my solely Strantz expertise thus far. For somebody who needs to tear driver on each gap, it was love at first website. True Blue is width personified. There’s room to hit the ball virtually anyplace inside cause off the tee, and meaning golfers of any talent degree can really feel good holding the ball in play.

However the off-the-tee width is deliberately misleading.

True Blue Golf Membership

For as large as True Blue feels in locations, the aware golfer realizes the abundance of shorter grass belies the strategic brilliance of the design.

The par-5 10th gap is a pointy dogleg proper that does not really feel that method off the tee field. For the golfer who’s by no means seen the course, it looks like a throwaway tee shot to an enormous, virtually ceaseless fairway. However the farther left a participant goes with their tee shot, the harder the subsequent two photographs grow to be. With a center-line bunker bisecting the fairway for the second shot, a golfer has to make a sensible play to the proper distance to really feel snug for a 3rd shot over lowcountry swamp-reeds to a massively undulating inexperienced. The one option to contemplate getting in residence in two is taking over the small area between the center-line bunker and the bunker main as much as the wider fairway off the tee. That bunker appears superfluous on the teebox, nevertheless it’s later clear it is every part.

After which there are occasions when Strantz simply lays down the gauntlet. The brief par-Four second could possibly be pushed by the longest of hitters, however a miss spells doom. An excessively aggressive play might be misplaced in the timber, sure, however it may be deflected or caromed right into a wasteland of native grass tufts, unmanicured sand and a scrubby tree designed to pressure the excessive street for a correct tee shot. Laying up with a 200-yard shot off the tee opens up an strategy to the multi-tiered, postage-stamp-feeling placing floor. There’s loads of room to hit the inexperienced, however there’s not a lot room to hit the proper spot on the inexperienced.

The par-Three 14th is considered one of the most versatile holes in America.

My favourite gap on True Blue has turn out to be the par-Three 14th. The opening performs anyplace from 120-140 yards or so, relying on tee and gap location. The inexperienced slopes exhausting from back-to-front in a little bit of a reverse Redan look. The shot is demanding, and par is something however sure. Nevertheless, what makes this gap particular is the amphitheater-style tee field association. With a lot teeing floor to select from, this single inexperienced complicated might play as its personal par-Three course — sort of like the ninth at the Mike DeVries-designed Kingsley Membership in Michigan.

The par-5 fourth reminds of the sixth at Bay Hill however it extra accessible in 2 for common gamers

The shut at True Blue feels extra typical than you may anticipate, although the strategy shot to 17 requires talent and dedication to keep away from bailing out to remain dry. The strategy to the 18th is one other risk-reward gambit, and the seashore bunkers on two of the last three holes are a factor of magnificence.

The bunker wall resulting in the fairway at the 18th gap is a beautiful website.

True Blue is a buoy in a sea of the similar 4 or 5 dogleg holes you see on plenty of golf programs, notably these with housing developments as the actual centerpiece. Strantz took lowcountry topography, made it dynamic and fascinating, all the whereas difficult golfers of each talent degree as a lot as they’re prepared to simply accept.

Quite a few my golf buddies advised me I would not like Caledonia, notably in comparison with True Blue. They advised me it was tight, and it might take driver out of my hand. So once we drove up the tree-lined street again to the clubhouse, I spied left and proper simply to see how slender it felt. Then I noticed the inexperienced on the par-5 10th (unbeknownst to me at that time), which appeared as small as a thimble and I audibly gasped with trepidation and intrigue.

Caledonia Golf and Fish Membership

It is evident driving up the driveway Caledonia is the antithesis of the trendy width motion. The property, a former rice plantation, confined the side-to-side width on most each gap (besides, sarcastically, the 10th). Despite the fact that most of the holes themselves have been a lot extensive, the touchdown areas have been in such stark distinction to True Blue, I used to be scared off the driver by the third tee. I solely used it on par 5s after that, resorting to a lower-flying shot with my 2-iron that took a number of the hassle out of play.

Out of necessity, Caledonia has few straight holes. There are many doglegs. However Strantz made every of them compelling in their very own method, creating a unique set of duties on every.

The par 3s at Caledonia steal the present. They’re all sensible.

The third is the longest of all of them and comes off an extended par 5 the place you’ve got already hit your first lengthy irons of the day. The inexperienced is deep and pretty beneficiant, however an enormous bunker looms to the proper some eight ft beneath the inexperienced.

On No. 6, the golfer performs a 150-yard shot enjoying to a goal the place, if the gap is in the center of the inexperienced, the touchdown space is deceptively giant.

The ninth is a 90-yard shot coming off a risk-reward par 5. For those who’ve tousled the shortest par 5 on the course, you are psychologically broken sufficient to marvel in case you can pull off a primary wedge.

At No. 11, the golfer takes on a Redan-style inexperienced contour combined in with points of No. 12 at Augusta Nationwide. The protected shot results in a safer rating, however what enjoyable is that?

The 17th is a break resulting in the ultimate gap, a mid-iron respite earlier than a difficult remaining gap.

Strantz’s finisher at Caledonia is simply 380 yards, however the gap is formed completely in tune with the remainder of the course. I am going to admit, all through the spherical I acquired more and more annoyed I felt I needed to hit lower than driver off the tee. The frustration led to some foolish errors regardless of nice execution off the tee. And but, once I got here to the remaining gap, I refused to offer in to my feelings. The fitting play was a 200-yard shot to the middle of the diagonally bending fairway to arrange a mid-iron over marsh and water to the house inexperienced. I spent all day lamenting hitting iron off the tee, solely to punch the air onerous once I hit my 7-iron proper at the goal from the center of the fairway. I might conquered a bit of myself.

I feel that is why I wound up loving Caledonia regardless of protecting the headcover on the driver virtually the complete spherical. I cared about performing the photographs required, and I cared about performing them till the very finish…with an unimaginable sundown over the marshland as a backdrop. On so many programs the place the questions turn out to be repetitive, I cease caring about giving the proper solutions and select to ask my very own questions. I wind up pulling out driver regardless of my wiser judgment and not a lot caring about the outcome.

Right here, I needed to tug off these tee photographs as a result of the number of strategy photographs was so compelling. I hit a pitching wedge sky excessive over a tree to a hidden, sunken inexperienced. I hit a sidehill three-quarter wedge from the center of the fairway to tackle a rock-hard inexperienced with a tucked pin. I hit a 9-iron to a deceptively giant par-Four inexperienced. And it goes on and on.

In sum, I hit brief iron or much less into a variety of holes. It is a 6,550-yard course from the ideas. However the inexperienced complexes every felt like a singular scene, and they stored me engaged.

The employees at each Caledonia and True Blue are first-rate, and they deal with the golfers they know are paying good cash to tackle programs that ought to be the satisfaction of the Grand Strand. The day was particular, spent with good buddies who have been getting their first look at Strantz.

Mike Strantz calls for so much from golfers. He needs them to assume, to chart, to anticipate — and that is all earlier than execution. Whereas I’ve spent many a spherical on cruise management, not very aware of what I used to be doing, nothing is rote on a Strantz format. And that is the signal of a fantastic course and an incredible architect: elevating the widespread to one thing particular.

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