The back tee yardage at Eagle Nest eclipses even 2017 U.S. Open venue Erin Hills, whose 18th hole is seen above.  (David Cannon/Getty Images)

Longing for attention: Myrtle Beach course the latest to the 8,000-yard club



For a while, Eagle Nest Golf Club has been one of a couple dozen solid, budget-oriented golf courses along the “Grand Strand” – the 70-mile stretch of coastline from just south of Wilmington, N.C. in the north to Pawleys Island, S.C. in the south that is home to nearly 100 layouts.

It can be hard to stand out from the crowd in this golf mecca. Most courses have used one or two little features in their marketing materials over the years to court customers, like the island fairway at King's North, or Farmstead Golf Links' par-6 finishing hole.

Per their ads over the years I vacationed with my family and then lived in the area, Eagle Nest’s hook always was “The Toughest Finishing Stretch in Myrtle Beach” – the long par-4 16th, long par-5 17th and the long, uphill, over-a-pond par-3 18th hole.

If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re not short on smarts. Alan Blondin of The Myrtle Beach Sun News reports that Eagle Nest’s owner, Rick Elliott, has recently introduced a new set of tee boxes – the elevated and landscaped “Perch” tees – that claim to stretch the Gene Hamm-designed course from a 6,900-yarder to more than 8,100 yards.

In reality it’s only just over 7,900 yards, according to standard measuring practices. The reported 8,168-yard figure is derived from measurements from the back tee to the back edge of each green, rather than the center. Still, Eagle Nest is the longest course in the Myrtle Beach area, eclipsing Grande Dunes Resort Club, by almost 400 yards.

Some of the eye-popping new figures on Eagle Nest's scorecard include a 266-yard back tee on the par-3 fourth hole, a 674-yard back tee on the par-5 13th and a 492-yard back tee on the par-4 15th.

That fearsome finish? It didn’t get too much longer, actually. Judging by the previous scorecard for the course, the 16th is only nine yards longer (458 vs. 449), the 17th is actually 25 yards shorter (591 vs. 616), but the 18th is now a beast at 252 yards (it previously topped out at 185 yards). Per Blodin's report:

"The Grand Strand needs this, and Eagle Nest is a good place for it," said Rick Elliott, who owns the course along with his mother, Anne. “It has created an opportunity for the professional golfer to play there, and I think we need that. At some point there’s no reason we can’t have a tournament in this area."

Far be it from me to criticize ambition – golf has benefited from energy and seemingly off-the-wall ideas recently, with Topgolf as an example of a successful one. But even if Elliott’s investment in new tee boxes pays off, it’s worth noting that even professional golfers won’t be likely to play Eagle Nest at anywhere near its 7,919-yard “real” back-tee distance.

In a hypothetical Eagle Nest-hosted tournament – likely a mini-tour event of some sort – a few things would likely keep organizers from subjecting players to the full 7,900-yard new Eagle Nest experience.

1. Pace of play. Having played some competitive golf – including in a few Myrtle Beach-based mini-tour events as an amateur – I can safely say that four and a half hours is a “fast” round and five-plus hours is more the norm on courses that top out in the 7,000- to 7,200-yard range. A professional round at a course of nearly 8,000 yards would be a six-hour affair, at least.

2. Setup practices. One near-universal fact of amateur and lower-level pro tournament I’ve observed is that if there’s a par three on the course that plays 230 yards from the tips, the tees are getting moved up to 200 yards or so. Some competitive players – even the really good ones – act like babies about certain course setup points, and having to play a 240-yard par three is one of the first things that get the tears flowing. Even the PGA Tour will move tees up on some long par threes, (the 12th at Wyndham Championship host Sedgefield Country Club is one that comes to mind). I don’t agree with it, but that’s a rant for another time.

3. Variety (or lack thereof). One great trend, sparked by Mike Davis’ ascent to power in the USGA, has been for tournament organizers to play around with hole lengths from day to day. When I played in the 2016 Florida Open, the tees on a normally 360-yard par 4 at Interlachen Country Club were moved up to about 290, making the hole drivable. The new Eagle Nest scorecard doesn’t have a lot of variety, but rather a parade of par 4s longer than 450 yards, with only one two-shotter under 400 yards. Length is just one way to test skilled golfers. It shouldn’t be the only way.

Erin Hills is instructive here. During the 2017 U.S. Open, the course’s longest daily yardage was in the first round, when the par-72 layout played 7,845 yards, well short of its theoretical maximum yardage, which includes numerous way-back tees not listed on the course scorecard.

I say “theoretical” because even though USGA officials could have flirted with or surpassed 8,000 yards at Erin Hills, they were able to give the pros all they could handle.

It's also worth noting that that yardage, which is just 74 yards less than Eagle Nest's new maximum, is a bit misleading. Erin Hills, set in the Kettle Moraine region of central Wisconsin, features firm fescue fairways and a number of elevated tee boxes. Even holes like the 681-yard par-5 18th at Erin Hills played upwards of 80 yards shorter on certain days due to some combination of downhill tee shots, favorable winds and the firm fairways.

Eagle Nest, though, sits practically at sea level in a climate that is not conducive to the fiery conditions that would make its 7,900 yards play more reasonably. Especially after any decent rain, the course from that distance would be a slog for all but the Dustin Johnsons of the world. There aren't many with his prodigious power, so I'm skeptical of the need to cater specifically to them.

At the risk of seeming too negative, I do want to genuinely applaud Elliott for taking a chance and getting his golf course some attention in what is a crowded, competitive market. And kudos to him for the other positive changes being made to Eagle Nest: drainage, cart path and bunker improvements and also new sets of shorter tees for the course's more core audience: seniors and ladies. The new Teal yardage markers allow the course to play as short as 3,679 yards.

And as off-beat an idea as it seems on the face of it, I must admit I am intrigued. As a bit of a masochist golfer, I’m tempted to try the new back tees at Eagle Nest the next time I’m in Myrtle Beach. Elliott may be onto something after all.

What do you think of this? Gimmick or savvy strategy for getting more golfers to visit? Let us know in the comments!

Apr 25, 2018



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richgag714@yahoo.com's avatar
richgag714@yahoo.com wrote at 2018-04-27 17:59:31+00:00:

As a golfer who lives only 5 mins. and play Eagles Nest often, one of the main objections would be who would be interested in playing a 5-6 hr round of golf. I pity the poor hacker who gets stuck behind some bomber who's spraying balls all over the tight course and having to wait to finish a round. My vote-Nay and it may force my to bring my play to some other surrounding courses-of which we have many. Please take note Me. Elloitt. Rich Gagliano Caroilna Shores,NC

JACK's avatar
JACK wrote at 2018-04-27 15:39:06+00:00:

JUST A GIMMICK THAT OVER 90% OF GOLFERS CANNOT HANDLE. WE ARE ALWAYS BEING TOLD BY COURSE OWNERS TO PLAY THE TEE BLOCKS ACCORDING TO YOUR HANDYCAP AND 8100 YARDS IS JUST FOR PROS. MORE SCENIC WITH "L" SHAPE DOGLEGS, LAYUPS AND TRAPS ARE FAR BETTER

Carl's avatar
Carl wrote at 2018-04-26 17:59:03+00:00:

8000 yd course(s) are ridiculous, especially for amateurs, who far outnumber the pros! Rather than lengthening courses, we should make more like Harbour Town, where most of the long ball spraying pros don't even play. This because they have to hit more targets rather than using only driver and a wedge to the green!

garry's avatar
garry wrote at 2018-04-26 15:42:48+00:00:

Long golf courses are no fun and not suitable for senior golf. Fine for a few gorillas that hit hit over 300 yards at sea level. How would a 200 yard player play 252 yard par 3 and have any chance to par the hole. Golf is getting stupid. Make courses senior friendly.

Jake J 's avatar
Jake J wrote at 2018-04-26 14:48:53+00:00:

I think the pros should have to use wooden woods just like the pro baseball players have to use wooden bats.

Willie Edelen's avatar
Willie Edelen wrote at 2018-04-26 14:20:35+00:00:

I am a better than average player and that is to long to be much fun, but if he wants to mow it all than good luck.

Chuck Passmore's avatar
Chuck Passmore wrote at 2018-04-26 13:49:05+00:00:

maybe one should stop and smell the roses - over the years my group of single digit golfers have played many of the Myrtle Beach area courses and enjoyed every minute of it - but - each course we played we would play the tee boxes on par 3's to under 205 yds. par 4's under 420 yds - par 5's didn't matter - we had fun - laughed - told jokes and it wasn't a chore to play the yardages we chose.

David's avatar
David wrote at 2018-04-26 13:29:04+00:00:

The equipment needs tweeking for the pros. I makes the game fun and easier for us weekend hackers especially as we age. 8000 yards for an average 10-20 handicapper is a joke. Way too many weekend duffers playing from the tips, that have no business being there. There is a reason MLB never let pros use aluminum bat, safty and the ball barks would all need 75-100 ft added, 1 MLB player said. Golf never did this and as the pros got into conditioning with the equipment from graphite shafts to titanium heads, balls .... The courses have become too easy. I was at Augusta this year and the amount of room from where the TEEs were to where they are is an incredible amount of room that most golf courses don't have.

Steve's avatar
Steve wrote at 2018-04-26 11:20:03+00:00:

I think it's a great marketing strategy, given that he is trying to compete with over 70 courses in Myrtle Beach. Truth is very few people ever play from the black tees so I don't think pace of play will be an issue. He put Eagle Nest back on the radar and yes, there will be a few young bucks that will want to try their hand on the notorious 8000 yard tees, so he might get them to add Eagle Nest to their lineup.

John Herman's avatar
John Herman wrote at 2018-04-26 10:41:58+00:00:

Slooooow play will result, and this is NOT what golfers want

Doug 's avatar
Doug wrote at 2018-04-26 08:42:55+00:00:

I'll let you know....playing there today.

jim's avatar
jim wrote at 2018-04-26 07:50:47+00:00:

GOLF IS NOT A LONG DRIVE CONTEST make it tough for the long hitters and golf is golf again

Ian Sinton's avatar
Ian Sinton wrote at 2018-04-26 07:50:12+00:00:

I've been playing this great game for 70 years .The problem is not getting more young people into golf because it is too expensive and takes too long , almost a full day . Making courses longer is counter productive , futile and stupid ,increasing playing time and maintenance costs.The future of golf lies in making the hole a more realistic size , say about 8 inches diameter ,and banning the production of balls

that go more than a certain distance, say 230 yards , thus revitalising the thousands of great courses in the world that modern equipment make look trivial.. The present hole size is an accident of history and wastes much time with short putts.

Doug 's avatar
Doug wrote at 2018-04-26 08:45:40+00:00:

That to me is not a good idea. The premise of " if you can't meet a standard, lower the standard" is never good for anything....including golf.

Charles's avatar
Charles wrote at 2018-04-26 12:59:50+00:00:

It's not really about lowering the standard. Modern equipment has already effectively done that. It's about making a larger number of courses relevant again though I do agree that changing the hole size is a bad idea.

Ian Sinton 's avatar
Ian Sinton wrote at 2018-04-26 14:10:15+00:00:

With respect Doug , you have missed the point.. The problems of expense and time remain .and younsters are not taking up the game in sufficient numbers to halt the ongoing closure of courses and the struggling of many others to keep solvent . The opinions of a few individuals about standards, or " it has always been that way and I like it"are largely irrelevant . We are talking of the future of the game over the next century . What are your positive ideas to reverse the trend ?

Charles's avatar
Charles wrote at 2018-04-26 12:56:54+00:00:

I mostly agree. The only thing I don't agree with is changing the size of the hole. I like it the way it is.

Mark Kahansky 's avatar
Mark Kahansky wrote at 2018-04-26 04:20:58+00:00:

The typical golfer who ventures to Myrtle Beach wouldn't chance being embarrassed trying to play an 8,000 yard layout. When the same average golfer hits his tee ball 200 yards, even a 30+ handicap would be hard pressed to break 100. To me this is a gimmick like trying to eat a 64 oz. steak in 30 minutes in order to not pay for it.

Joe's avatar
Joe wrote at 2018-04-26 01:54:00+00:00:

Have been going to Myrtle Becch to play golf for over 20 years. We always play from the white tees. I would like to play this course at least once and would play it from the white tees.

JOEL GOODMAN's avatar
JOEL GOODMAN wrote at 2018-04-26 01:40:01+00:00:

NONSENSE! TO MAKE A COURSE TOUGHER, BRING THE FAIRWAYS IN TO 25 YHDS MAXIMUM. LET THE PRIMARY ROUGH GROW TO 3 INCHES AND THE SECONDARY TO 6 INCHES. MAKE THE GREE SPEED 12 + WATCH THE SCORES GO UP

gary brunner's avatar
gary brunner wrote at 2018-04-26 00:34:27+00:00:

A course that has pros hitting 3 irons to the par 4 green, like the rest of us, would be good.

Kevin's avatar
Kevin wrote at 2018-04-26 00:21:45+00:00:

Gimmick!

Too long for any sane person to have fun!!!!!!!

Jim's avatar
Jim wrote at 2018-04-26 00:04:03+00:00:

My question has always been conditions. Eagles Nest has never been in great shape so we have avoided it. If conditions have been greatly improved then it might be in consideration.

sorenj's avatar
sorenj wrote at 2018-04-26 00:02:28+00:00:

I'm fine with a course adding more tees, of any length, in theory. Where I run into issues (perhaps "concerns" would be a better word) is with regard to pace of play and ego. Right now I'd say I watch people tee'ing up from the wrong set of tees (for their skill level) about a third of the time. While I'm all for a challenge if I'm the only one on the course, this effects pace of play for everyone behind you.

I played behind a group of guys playing from the blacks (tips) the other day (me and my 7.7 index were playing the blues), if any of them broke 110 it was due to mathematical error. I wouldn't care about their pace (let alone score) except it made my round (which normally takes about 3:45 on this particular track) run around 5 hours. They were having the time of their lives with no real idea about their impact on others. When I played Cog #4 last year, it was very tempting to play the tips.... but my ability doesn't support it so I didn't.

The point is, if you build it, they will come. An 8000 yard course is going to draw people who want to play from "big boy" distance, regardless of whether they can or not... and lots of other people may pay the consequences.

Tom W.'s avatar
Tom W. wrote at 2018-04-25 23:53:45+00:00:

The only people who will enjoy this are those who can hit their drive 250 to 275 yards and then can hit a 225 yard second shot. Since most amateurs cannot do that, i expect they will spend their vacation dollars on a different course. I know I would.

stever48's avatar
stever48 wrote at 2018-04-25 23:52:25+00:00:

Time to restrict the balls and equipment.Our most classic and beautiful courses are becoming obsolete. A 70 year old golfer ( and the majority of all golfers today are > 55, cannot enjoy a course of this length.

Rodney Braithwaite's avatar
Rodney Braithwaite wrote at 2018-04-25 23:41:13+00:00:

8000 yards is a very long but I would get it the old college try. I'm a 15 handy cap, but it's just a day on the links. breaking 90 would be a major tasks, I would get a shot. I will be in myrtle beach at bearfoot landing in October of this year,i'll look it up

Joe DuCharme's avatar
Joe DuCharme wrote at 2018-04-25 22:34:41+00:00:

Most golfers go to Myrtle Beach to play golf and have some fun. I have been going since 1986 and with groups from 20 to 32 players. We play courses 6200 to 6300 yards. And even at these yardage’s almost nobody plays to there handicap. 7000 yards would not be fun and 8000 yards would be torture for most of the average golfers. And by the way that would most likely would be 90 percent of golfers that play in Myrtle. You won’t see our group playing at Eagles Nest!!!!

Mike's avatar
Mike wrote at 2018-04-25 22:31:15+00:00:

Bad idea. How in the world do they hope to speed up a round of golf. Perhaps equipment needs to be changed to allow for 450 yard drives by most amateurs.

Matt's avatar
Matt wrote at 2018-04-25 22:41:22+00:00:

Bingo! I was thinking the same thing about pace of play. It already takes WAY too long on a standard length course and now 8000 yards? At least I'm now seeing a lot more pros clean up their short putts versus marking. Maybe the slow pokes watching will get the hint and move along.

Doug's avatar
Doug wrote at 2018-04-25 22:25:33+00:00:

The International in Bolton, Mass has a set of Tiger tees. Named prior to Tiger being a pro....8325 yards...and those tees have been in place since the mid 1980's.....

Bsweeney's avatar
Bsweeney wrote at 2018-04-25 21:35:01+00:00:

8102 from the tips at the Pete Dye Course in French Lick. Bring it...go big or go home


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Tim Gavrich

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Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for Golf Advisor and the Managing Editor of the Golf Vacation Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.