Friday, March 03, 2017

Should Beginners Attempt to Play Caledonia Golf Course?

Caledonia Golf and Fish Club Entrance
Passing beneath the stately oaks that lead to the clubhouse of the famed Pawley's Island Caledonia Golf and Fish Club, I wondered about the course we were about to play; would it be a test or an easy walk along the fairway?

From which tee box would I hit?

What awaits me, as well as others at my skill level, better players a well as beginners? A golf blog was formulating in my mind right at the entrance to this scenic experience.

Although this golf course is considered a bucket list must-play for Southerners and Northerners alike, Caledonia, as well as other well-known upscale masterpieces, may not be suited to all levels of golfer unless he or she is there for the high-end experience more than for the score.

Natural beauty surrounds, and dominates, the senses - egrets are in flight,  alligators are lazily surrounding the lakes; yes, Caledonia is most certainly a beautiful golf course and, on the first day of March, it was wonderful to see the azaleas in bloom, reminding me that The Masters Tournament is just around the turn.

This Mike Strantz masterpiece proudly shows itself to be the perfect respite for the vacationing golfer and for players like myself and my husband who wanted to feel like we are on vacation even though we live only half an hour up the road in Myrtle Beach. The greens are in perfect shape, the fairways are cushioned and the course is immaculately maintained.


What should all level of golfer know before playing Caledonia Golf and Fish Club?

Fairways are tight, strategically placed bunkers, water and waste areas abound so the golf course should be reviewed before heading out for the first time.

First tip? Pick up a play book at the front desk to help guide you through the holes, download a golf app for correct distances and watch video flyovers of the holes on the Caledonia website before you attempt to play the course. Don't go out unprepared if you plan to score well.

In my opinion, the holes got increasingly difficult as the round progressed. I ran out of fairway at hole thirteen as I couldn't see the trouble that lay at the edge of the fairway, causing a blow-up hole. Precision shots are important on Caledonia.

Try These Three Golf Swing Thoughts to Avoid Blow-Up Holes

For the first nine, we played with members of Caledonia who were invaluable as they helped us through trouble spots. As we came upon the ninth hole, it was relayed to us that the course ran out of room making the hole very short. Playing from the forward tees with my partners, the hole measured eighty yards with sand guarding the entire front of the green and through me for a loop as I was in between clubs. Feel shots are just as important as precision on Caledonia!

As we approached hole 18 on Caledonia Golf Club, I pulled out my camera as this is one of the most beautiful finishing holes in golf and was included in PGA.com's  "Dream 18 of South Carolina". Caledonia was also selected as America's 4th Best Golf Course by My Golf Spy.


The eighteenth hole did not disappoint; water along the right side of the fairway created an island green effect. I landed my drive too far left but still in the fairway, leaving me approximately 160 yards to the pin...it looked like 200 yards to the pin from where I stood and was extremely intimidating to me. I pulled out way too much club and choked on the shot. I said, "this round isn't going to end this way for me" and so I asked Barry if I could "mulligan" the shot, taking what I originally thought would be the right club. Since he won the round already, he agreed and I plunked the shot pin-high just off of the green. TIP? Don't be intimidated and select the club that you feel comfortable with that you know will do the job!

The final tip is for beginners: should a relative beginner golfer play Caledonia? It depends on how "new" you are - can you move the ball forward, do you understand strategy basics or are you still banging the ball on the driving range, trying to learn the basics of the swing and the game? Attempt to play Caledonia only if you can affirm that you are up for the challenge and follow the below tip in case you get into trouble.

To keep the game moving along, pick up your ball if you think you might be on a "blow-up hole" and move it forward to your playing partner's ball or play best ball instead of playing traditional stroke play.

Caledonia Golf and Fish Club will be a memorable experience to stand among the best resort courses that you play in your lifetime; it oozes with southern charm and makes you feel that you are in a very special place.

Thank you to Bob Seganti for the invitation.

Have you played Caledonia Golf Club? If so, what were your thoughts on the course? Let us know in the comments section of this golf blog and on Twitter @Golf4Beginners and @caledoniagolffi

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