NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- There just aren't many chinks in the armor of Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation.
It's a great layout with great holes at every turn in a setting that never ceases to amaze. Golf Digest ranked Tidewater fourth among the top 60 courses along the Grand Strand. Golfweek rated Tidewater no. 7 among the top public golf courses in South Carolina for 2012.
Les Goff, a member at the club since 2004, said he never tires of playing the Ken Tomlinson design.
"It's a fabulous golf course," Goff said just moments before a recent round. "You wouldn't play it as regularly as we do unless there are solid reasons. There's beauty and aesthetics. It's a difficult course with lots of challenges, but it's fair. ... The course has stood up since 1990 as one of the premier courses down here. That speaks to its design."
Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation: The course
There are countless signature holes in Tidewater's arsenal. Four fantastic holes play along the scenic Cherry Grove Inlet that leads to the Atlantic Ocean.
The 160-yard third and 189-yard 12th holes are dramatic par 3s that run in opposite directions along the marshy shoreline. Intimidation plays a big role at the 430-yard fourth hole. The epic views of the inlet distract from the task at hand, hitting it long and straight up the right side for a downhill approach to a well bunkered green.
Several other holes, such as the par 5s at no. 8 and no. 16, play along the Intracoastal Waterway, where a large pleasure cruiser just might play through. The sight is a not-so-subtle reminder to the spoils of the good life in Myrtle Beach.
There's great variety in the rhythm of the routing. One minute players might feel in complete command, while the next their scores are spiraling out of control. The short par 4s at no. 7 and no. 15 play less than 360 yards from the tips but can easily relinquish double bogey or worse.
Par 4 is a great score on any of the four highest handicap holes: The fourth, fifth, 11th and 18th holes all stretch to at least 430 yards from the tips and 400 yards from the recommended white tees.
"No two holes are the same," Goff confirmed.
Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation: The verdict
Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation probably ranks as my personal favorite of the courses I've played on the Grand Strand, with its natural beauty nudging past the Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and True Blue Plantation.
The fourth hole at Tidewater has to rank among the best par 4s on the Grand Strand, if not the entire Eastern Seaboard. The entire course is a demanding test that can gobble up golf balls, but the views soften the blow of turning in a scorecard that might be better off being ripped up and discarded.