The Legends Golf Resort is one of the most-acclaimed golf destinations in the United States’s most golf-dense location, Myrtle Beach, including the Heathland, Moorland, and Heritage layouts. Owner Larry Young wouldn’t let his success be limited by state lines and so he expanded Legends reach to immediately across the North Carolina border, where Dan Maples (also the architect of the Heritage course) worked with Young to create the Oyster Bay course.
The Legends courses from Tom Doak (Heathland) and P.B. Dye (Moorland) show a relative conservatism for the Myrtle Beach scene, but the Oyster Bay layout will absolutely tickle the feet for those who come to the area seeking adrenaline-fueled golf.
A number of holes play along the Calabash River and the Intracoastal Waterway near the shore and, just in case one island green wasn’t enough for you, Oyster Bay features two. One is the penultimate hole, in true TPC Sawgrass tradition, but No. 15 will be the one that will truly buckle your knees. It measures more than 210 yards from the tips (and the full length of the longest tees is just 6,700 yards).
Oyster Bay is a Legends Resort course and I would categorize it as production golf. Just about all the holes have some water feature and while some folks say it is short, it is a par 70.
She does not welcome you. The first few holes can be challenging. The first is a dogleg left with a bunker on the inside elbow and a water hazard from the elbow to the green and the fairway narrows significantly at the bend. The 2nd Is a long par 4 with a water carry tee shot. It is the number one handicap hole. The 3rd is an even longer par four with the green perched behind a water hazard. The 4th is a long par with a large right front bunker. The first par 5 is a reverse S and extremely unlikely to be reached in two. Water and marsh on one side and tall pines on the other. Let’s not forget the fairway bunkers and the two greenside right and left either. The 6th was my favorite hole, short par 3, yes birdie. The 7th is a straightaway par four and 8th is the shortest hole on the course. The 9th is the longest par 5, but if you are stallion you have a chance. Leans to the right with requisite amount of fairway bunkers and the compulsory greenside front right and left.
The back starts with a long tight par four that leans right and has fairway bunkers right. Too far left off the tee and the ball will bound towards the marsh. The 11th is a long par four, favor the right center off the tee. The 12th is supposed to be the easiest hole on the course. It does have a tabletop green and one of my buddies still cusses this hole out. The 13th is the shortest par 4 with water down the right. Your approach is a water carry as well as a large bunker. The 13th is the shortest par 5. Play it as a 3 shotter as the approach is over a water hazard. Favor the right off the tee. The 15th is a long island par 3 at 210 yards. Sadly the next tee up is 135 yards, I think there should be another tee box. The 16th is a beast of a par 4. The number two handicap hole and the longest par four with water right and then a water carry on the approach. Sadistic is the word that comes to mind. The short par 3 17th to a peninsula green seemed like a vacation after 16. You finish with a straightaway par four with a carry over a hazard with a greenside bunker right.
One of the better designs in the area. My biggest issue is the production golf mentality of Legends Resort. We were the first two groups on a Friday in June. We made the turn in hour and half and could not tee off until 930 as they were doubling teeing. We had another tee time mid-day and I asked if perhaps we could go out and start 7, 8 or 9 and be ready to go at 930 and they said no. I begged a bit and ultimately was told it was our fault for playing too fast. Playing too fast, is that like being too skinny? Too rich? I won’t be going back
The Par 3s are great, including an island green. Coquina shells abound so stay in the grass. A very fun round on the north end of the Grand Strand.
My first time to The Grand Strand area came back in 1976 and I have been returning on and off again as circumstances permit. Much of the golf found in the area is akin to fast food -- serves an immediate purpose but hardly causing serious memory retention.
There are clear exceptions. Oyster Bay is one of them.
Credit Dan Maples and Larry Young for a smart balance of holes. People will view the total yardage of 6,700 yards and hardly bat an eye. However, the most important aspect you learn quickly is positioning off the tee is central to one's success -- or failure. The holes do weave through a series of tree lines and shaping shots is clearly an advantage for those able to do so consistently.
There's plenty of water to avoid but it takes an errant execution to likely encounter it.
The balancing of the holes is done well – you always must switch gears, make adjustments and never get complacent.
So much of the golf in the broader Grand Strand is akin to the buffet restaurants found in the area. There's plenty of food but hardly appetizing. Oyster Bay is a gourmet treat -- just make sure your utensils (golf clubs) are ready for action.
M. James Ward