ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. –- The Links Course at Wild Dunes Resort -- Tom Fazio's first solo design -- has emerged revitalized from a recent six-month, multi-million-dollar renovation.
While the footprint of the routing remains unaltered, there are plenty of new subtleties to get golfers excited about playing the Links again. The infrastructure was upgraded -- new cart paths, new irrigation and new grass on the greens (Champion Bermuda replaced TifEagle). Fazio's team found a few extra yards, stretching the par 70 from 6,383 yards to 6,503 yards. On certain holes, deep bunkers were added (or old ones removed) to frame shots.
The two front bunkers guarding the elevated fifth green make for an exciting approach to a risk-reward par 5. The once-bunkerless seventh green is now protected by a menacing trap. Most greens have new collection areas that will force players to choose between chipping high or low or putting.
The par-3 holes on the back nine highlight the day. The 192-yarder at no. 12 squirts through a narrow passage in the dunes. The setting around the 198-yard 16th hole was cleaned up, revealing views of the Atlantic.
After the par-4 17th hole along the shore, golfers on the tee of the 185-yard 18th hole stare off into the ocean blue. Old-timers and regulars still lament the loss of the original finishing hole -- a dogleg par 5 destroyed by coastal erosion -- but this moment still ends the round gloriously good.
Once the clubhouse reopens in December after its own upgrades, Wild Dunes will once again boast one of the best 36-hole resorts in the Carolinas, if not the entire East Coast.