Barefoot Resort's Love golf course in North Myrtle Beach has earned its national spotlight

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- The employees at Barefoot Resort have heard some whoppers over the years.

In the customary fashion of stories getting better after a drink or two, the "legend" of the ruins tucked in and around the 3-7 stretch on the Love Course grows. Many contend it was the original landowner's property. Some simply know it was the original Barefoot clubhouse, while still others spout their knowledge of the 18th-century plantation home that burned to the ground during the Civil War.

Those tales carry about as much weight as an unwitnessed hole-in-one.

In reality, Davis Love III had them built, so to speak, to add a visual element unlike anything else on South Carolina's Grand Strand.

"It's surprising to me that it hasn't been done before or done since," Barefoot Resort Director of Golf Mike Ross said. "It still has that wow factor for people who haven't played it before. Maybe they haven't played here in five years, but they always remember the ruins."

A corner piece of a building and several columns encase much of the fourth green. A small stone wall -- a few hundred feet from the primary facade -- takes place of what could have been a bunker face on no. 6.

Altogether, the ruins are a focal point for a course that is currently drawing plenty of eyes. One of the four host courses for Golf Channel's "Big Break Myrtle Beach" reality show, Barefoot Resort's Love Course is one that certainly earned the right to shine on national television.

Barefoot Resort's Love Course

Instead of the Love Course resting on its annual haul of awards, the staff at Barefoot has a refreshing approach. They recognize they're in charge of a gem, but one that isn't perfect.

It might be a nitpicking eye, but concentrating on potential issues such as declining cart paths, a handful of tree roots popping through the 419 Bermuda in the roughs, or irrigation and drainage issues (common occurrences for clubs open for 15 years) keeps its lofty status going year after year.

"It's always a work in progress," Ross said. "I think it starts with the top down. Our owner believes in something that was built to last. ... That is part of our challenge. He has established a blueprint for us to stay in the upper echelon of golf in the area and the Southeast."

Recent green replacements (all of the Barefoot courses were upgraded to Champion Ultradwarf) accompany the Greg Norman GN-1 hybrid on the tee boxes and fairways. A Tif-sport Bermuda is in place for the extremely playable approach areas.

Take it for granted.

From the 7,057-yard platinum tees, the Love Course is in the middle of the pack in terms of distance for Barefoot's three resort courses. From the whites, however, it's actually the longest of the three, measuring a cool 6,055 yards.

It gives most players the opportunity to hit the driver off the tees despite an abundance of fairway hazards that includes cutting streams, trees, bunkers and waste areas.

By themselves, they won't drop the hammer on a scorecard. Their biggest influence is taking you offline from the green, where that Champion Ultradwarf can roll below-average shots right off the back.

Barefoot Resort: Facilities and golf instruction

The 35,000-square-foot golf complex at the resort includes an over-sized pro shop and restaurant with a full dining and bar menu. The back porch overlooks Barefoot Fazio's 18th hole, and it is visible from the 18th green of the Love Course as well. The patio also includes a cabana-style bar that is open seasonally.

Barefoot Resort offers a pair of instruction options. The Dyer Golf Academy and Greg Norman's Champions Golf Academy co-exist on a 30-acre range and teaching facility.

Barefoot Resort's Love Course: The verdict

When Barefoot Resort opened its three resort courses (and the semi-private Dye Club) in 2000, there were questions of sustainability. They are considered top-dollar rounds, with 18 holes often costing into triple digits.

Regardless, Barefoot Love navigated its way through a golf recession that eliminated some courses and turned others into shells of their past selves.

"One of the testaments of who we are is that the golf courses have been maintained," Ross said. "I think our courses have stood the test of time. We made the changes necessary to stay modern."

Even if some believe those ruins predate the course by a couple centuries.

Ian Guerin is a freelance writer and DJ living in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He's decent with the driver and putter; it's everything else in the bag that gives him trouble. Follow Ian on Twitter at @iguerin.
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Barefoot Resort's Love golf course in North Myrtle Beach has earned its national spotlight