My first round of the Safari was the most northern of the lot. Glen Dornoch is one of four “Glen” courses across the Grand Strand of South Carolina. In truth, only three have the have the term “Glen” in their name, but that hardly matters. Glen Dornoch is a Clyde Johnston design and is purported to be a Donald Ross tribute course. There is no doubt that Dornoch is a tribute to the great golf embodied in Royal Dornoch, Ross’ northern Scotland birthplace. That is what matters most.
Glen Dornoch sits along the Atlantic Intracostal Waterway and is fortunate to run three holes along the aquatic stretch. The course plays as both a challenge to the expert golfer and a respite for the recreational golfer on vacation. The course sets five sets of tees each day, at 5000, 5600, 6000, 6400 and 6900 yards. Selecting the proper yardage is critical, due to the small but critical number of marsh and wetland carries off tees and in fairways.
The greens at Glen Dornoch are marvelously angled, sloped, twisted and lumpy. With a few, flat exceptions, they challenge the golfer to one or two putt. Reaching them depends on placement of drives. The fairway drive zones are fair in their width, but the greens demand precision of depth of approach. Many sit atop plateaus, protected in front by bunkers and behind by fall-offs.
The par four holes at the Glen are a superior grouping. At least four of them qualify as short two-shotters, offering each golfer wedge approach shots to set up a reasonable birdie putt. On the other end of the spectrum, thee of them are above 430 yards, qualifying them as half-par holes (between 4 and 5.) Two of them close the nines and trace their fairways along the intracostal waterway.
The par five holes range from extremely long to mid-range. All of them demand great thought and planning, or they will prove to be a scourge of low scores. Visually-threatening marshlands bisect multiple par-five fairways, yet they threaten only if proper care and measured play are not taken. The fifth hole is crossed twice by hazards, yet can be managed with a drive up the right side of the fairway, then a crossing second to the left. From there, the green opens up to a short iron approach.
I was advised that Glen Dornoch was a terrific choice for my first round of golf in Myrtle Beach this year. It would be a pleasant start but would not measure up to the other courses on my list. After my 18 holes in Little River, I’ve come away with two revelations: my friends know very little and the other quartet of courses has much to prove to top Glen Dornoch.