Nicklaus' Long Bay Club golf course a Myrtle Beach challenge

LONGS, S.C. -- Sure, you're on a golf vacation in Myrtle Beach, and there are plenty of "player-friendly" golf courses from which to choose.

But as you work your way along Myrtle Beach's Grand Strand, you're going to want to play at least one track capable of giving you a swift kick in the seat.

Welcome to "Jack's sandbox."

That's Jack as in Jack Nicklaus. You might find no harder golf course to play on Myrtle Beach than the Golden Bear's Long Bay Club.

Nicklaus began building Long Bay in 1986, the year of his last win at Augusta National. It opened two years later, and since then it has held its own as one of Myrtle Beach's most challenging.

It's not the length that makes it difficult - Long Bay plays a manageable 7,025 yards from the tournament tees. Water isn't a huge factor either, although there is an island green, and Nos. 9 and 18 offer vintage Nicklaus-design drama as the course's biggest pond winds along both holes.

Anyone who knows the place, from members to bag boys to pro-shop staff, will tell you exactly where you're going to lose strokes: poor approaches.

"You can't short-side yourself here on your approach," said Head Professional Jim Fellner. "If you've got an approach to a pin in the front of the green, you might want to take an extra club, or else your chip on will be tough and you'll have a 20-footer for par."

Pins here can be cruelly tucked, just a few paces off the edge. The greens are not huge, but they are guarded heavily with sand, swales and collection areas, making few chips routine.

The par 3s are a highlight of Long Bay's design. The eighth is a testy 179-yard shot over a pond to an elevated green protected by water. There is a small bailout area right. No such luck on the 156-yard 13th, which plays to a shallow green surrounded by water with a small bunker sitting front right.

The club's signature hole, No. 10, is one of the Strand's most photogenic. The fairway is guarded by a giant waste bunker that horseshoes around it. This expanse of sand is so big it doubles as the hole's cart path - a technique uniquely employed several times here. It's the clearest display of the reason for the course's playground nickname.

The 10th isn't the most difficult par 4 here, though. That honor is reserved for No. 3, which features a slanted, narrow green with a bunker in front and plenty of mounding around. It's only 377 yards from the middle-back tees, but you'd be well-advised to get your drive out as far as you can; you'll need great finesse to put your ball on the tricky green.

There are five sets of tees here, and if you think the 6,209 yards from the whites is too short you might regret moving to the 6,593-yard blue tees - any chance to hit a wedge instead of an 8-iron to the green could easily make the difference of a couple strokes. Choose wisely, or be ready for what the locals call a "long day at Long Bay."

Long Bay Club: The verdict

Long Bay is the kind of golf course you're going to want a second go at (replays are offered for a discounted rate). It's sneaky-hard, with a lot of trickery around the greens that you can't pinpoint from the fairway. The comparatively open fairways let you have a little fun off the tee, but be careful with your approaches.

Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.
More from the author
4 Min Read
December 3, 2021
It's never been easier to design custom hats, golf balls, clubs, headcovers and more.
2 Min Read
November 30, 2021
It's possible this little ditty finds you scooping up the last bit of cranberry pie crumbs out of the tray. Thanksgiving may have passed but the effects of celebratory eating around the table, and also possibly social imbibing during all the various football games throughout the weekend, are sticking with us. To our bellies and elsewhere.
4 Min Read
November 23, 2021
We scoured the web of golf and found holiday savings up to 50% off.
12 Min Read
November 18, 2021
Golfers can choose from a wide variety of portable launch monitor price points and user experiences. Here is what's new and the best ones to consider to improve your golf.
7 Min Read
November 9, 2021
Our community loves the value and experience at these popular and affordable military facilities and even book online.
5 Min Read
November 2, 2021
Some U.S. cities have frighteningly few public-access courses for its residents. If you like variety, you may not want to live in these metros.
6 Min Read
November 20, 2021
Help the golfer in your life shoot lower scores, look and feel better than ever this holiday season with these eight golf gifts.
16 Images
November 30, 2021
Thanks to our users, GolfPass has exceeded 300,000 reviews in a single year for the first time.
4 Min Read
November 30, 2021
The Jamaica Invitational Pro-Am "Annie's Revenge", one of the Caribbean's best pro-ams, introduces the fun and the sun of Rose Hall near Montego Bay.
4 Min Read
November 22, 2021
Anyone can play Tom Fazio's Wynn Golf Club, which sits in the heart of the Las Vegas strip.
Load More
Now Reading
Nicklaus' Long Bay Club golf course a Myrtle Beach challenge