Originally published on 1/17/2016 at 7:03 am.
Myrtle Beach SC – A year and a half ago (2014 or so) my wife and I had the fantastic opportunity to tour Wales and England. Ever since we visited Tintagel England, I have been fascinated by Arthurian legend. According to folklore, the “Lady of the Lake” gave King Arthur his infamous sword Excalibur. Viviane was a tale of two personalities – the evil and deceitful villainess but also a kind and benevolent maiden, who raised Lancelot as if he were her son. Merlin, on the other hand, was the guardian of young Arthur and served as King Arthur’s advisor until he was bewitched and imprisoned by the Lady of the Lake.
Fast forward ten centuries or so!
Mystical Golf owner Claude Pardue commissions renowned Architect Dan Maples to create a trio of golf courses with three different personalities and unique challenges as these characters. And each clubhouse is as unique as the courses themselves. When I spoke with Mr. Pardue, he assured me that “there aren’t historical references to the names of the three Mystical Golf courses”, but still I was not convinced.
The Witch (Viviane the Lady of the Lake)
The Witch Golf Club was Mystical’s first course and has been awarded 4 ½ stars by Golf Digest. From the moment I arrived, I was graciously greeted at their ominous clubhouse complete with a wraparound deck and roof that eerily resembles a witch’s hat. Claude told me the The Witch is aptly named as “it’s cool and spooky” playing through the wetlands and secluded areas. Every tee block is a hardwood stump recovered from the property, resembling a witch’s face adding to the imagery. Right away I knew I was in for a unique experience.
The Witch is sometimes daunting even evil but without a doubt, the most enchanting of the three courses. It was if Arthur used Excalibur, the finest sword there ever was, to thrash his way through 500 acres of eerie black water wetlands, undisturbed woodlands, and cypress groves. Just like Viviane, this course has two personalities. The front nine is tight and very well treed whereas the back nine is more forgiving with rolling hills and elevated tees. You may never see another golfer on the course, but you could run across alligators, black bears, cranes, bald eagles and deer so don’t be looking for your errant golf ball for too long.
My most memorable hole is probably the 9th; a dog-leg left where strategy and placement off the tee is essential to have any shot at the green. However, holes 16 through 18 will certainly get your attention.
With over 4,000 feet of bridgework, The Witch is one of the most photogenic and difficult courses you may find in Myrtle Beach. A few words of caution, keep it straight and remember, the Bermuda greens are deceptively slow.
The Wizard (Merlin the Magician)
The first thing I noticed as I drove up the long entrance way to The Wizard was the whimsical clubhouse complete with a stone-façade, stone bridges and a water filled moat. Claude said, “the Wizard was named due to the castle clubhouse, completing the Scottish theme of the links-style course.” Like Merlin, I feel that Dan Maples has magically transformed a relatively flat piece of property into mounded dunes reminiscent of a British links-style layout.
The fairways are wide and bumpy making it difficult to find a flat lie and the juniper covered mounded rough will surely gobble up some balls as I soon discovered. I found the large bent grass greens to be fast and in near perfect condition plus most were well protected by deep-faced bunkers.
For the first fifteen holes, water is not a factor but that all changes when you reach the 16th. That’s when The Wizard will mesmerize you when you are forced to carry over water on each of your approach shots.
Hole 16 is a long par-4 with water to contend with along the entire right side and a well-guarded two-tiered green. 17 is a spectacular 180-yard par 3 to an island green from an elevated tee. The 18th is a short par-4 with an island tee and fairway followed by peninsula green that will test every aspect of your game.
Despite these challenges, my favourite had to be the 11th hole, a great risk/reward Par 5, reachable at 510 yards but only if you hit a solid well-placed drive.
The Wizard has been rated 4 stars by Golf Digest and may be the most player-friendly of the group.
Man-O-War (Lancelot the Warrior)
As a child, Sir Lancelot was foster-parented by the “Lady of the Lake” in her magic kingdom. He turned out to be the bravest and most formable knight at King Arthur’s court. With a slope of 141, including back-to-back island greens, Man-O-War maybe the toughest of the lot. Queen Guinevere rescued Lancelot from the stake on two different occasions, but it’s too bad she wasn’t here to save me.
Claude assured me that the course is named after the Portuguese Man-O-War fish, and the theme is complimented by the unique fishing camp clubhouse – a simple wooden and tin-roofed structure reminiscent of a stable barn, partially built on stilts.
The Man-O-War course wraps around sections of a 100-acre lake. Water is evident on every hole, however, with a little skill and a wee bit of ‘magic’, you can avoid most of the trouble. This 4 star Golf Digest rated course has more of a parkland feel, with wide, inviting fairways but beware, as there is plenty of sand and ball smothering rough.
All the courses were in superb condition and a treat to play. The Man-O-War and The Wizard are adjacent to each other, and The Witch is just 10 minutes away. Mystical owns all three courses, located in the heart of Myrtle Beach, less than 15 minutes from the Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR).
There are a number of Stay’N’Play options available depending on where and what type of accommodations you are looking for. Starting from $309USD you can enjoy 3 rounds of golf with cart and stay 3 nights including FREE daily lunch at the courses, 2 FREE beers or beverages with each round, FREE range balls and same day “Replay” on any of the Mystical Golf Courses for cart fee only (based on availability). You will also receive a $15 GIFT CARD for a golf shirt from any Mystical Golf Pro Shop.
For more information about Mystical Myrtle (the Witch, Man-O-War and The Wizard) visit www.mysticalgolf.com or call 1-843-282-2977.