CALABASH, N.C. -- Nobody asked me what I shot today. All they wanted to know was: "How did you do on the par 6?" That's because I played my first round at the Golf.com World Amateur Handicap Championship on the Farmstead Golf Links, a Myrtle Beach track known for its 767-yard finishing hole. A hole that starts in South Carolina and ends in North Carolina. A hole that answers the question: What does the course designer do when his preliminary routing ends three hundred yards short of the clubhouse? First Disclosure: I didn't play the 18th from the tips. I'm in a "mid-senior" flight this week, mid-senior being a euphemism for "60-plus." That meant we got to play No. 18 from the gold tee, a mere 647 yards from today's hole location. The architects, Willard Byrd and Dave Johnson, could have built a good par 3 between me and the black tee. Or a Costco.
Second Disclosure: I missed the "Welcome to North Carolina" sign. A club employee told me it was somewhere along the concrete cart path that runs down the right side of 18. "Just before you get to the second cloverleaf," he joked.
Third Disclosure: I played No. 18 like a wuss. A drive of about 250 yards cleared the fairway bunker but left me in the first cut of rough on the right. From there the hole curved left -- and then left, and then left some more -- around a body of water, the fairway getting progressively narrower until it resembled a turfed causeway. Recognizing that any boldly-struck ball might veer toward the hazard, I hit a 7-iron to the widest part of the fairway, laid up again with a 9-iron over the corner of the lake, and then smacked an 8-iron to the front of the green. That sounds like a lot of swings -- it was practically a straight flush in clubs -- but I was on in regulation.
One of my playing partners wasn't so lucky. The lake swallowed three of his Titleists, and he had to drain a 20-footer to salvage an 11.
Final Disclosure: I three-putted from 50 feet for a bogey 7.
Did I like the hole? Yes. It was so much fun that, like the guys who designed it, I didn't want it to end. But I wasn't that impressed with the cart path.
It needs a Cracker Barrel at the 200-yard marker. More Coverage from the Golf.com World Amateur Handicap Championship