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807 Sea Mountain Hwy, Unit B
North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582
Standing in the middle of the third fairway, the beauty and challenge of Shaftesbury Glen are crystallized in the demands of the approach shot. The green is elevated and a deep, finger bunker lurks.
What looked like a fairly easy hole on the tee box gets tougher with each step towards the green. The third hole is Shaftesbury Glen condensed into a 414-yard par 4.
The Clyde Johnston design is open off the tee, giving players ample latitude, but the greens are typically elevated and protected by those expansive bunkers. Getting up-and-down from the sand makes for a challenging round, so a sharp iron game will be your key to success.
The 2009 Myrtle Beach golf course of the year, Shaftesbury Glen will look familiar to the game's architecture aficionados. One of the facility’s owners, Paul Himmelsbach, caddied at Winged Foot, an A.W. Tillinghast design, and he wanted the famed layout to be the inspiration for Shaftesbury.
RELATED: Shaftsbury Glen Photo Tour
Johnston delivered on Himmelsbach’s wish, crafting a design with reminders of the elevated greens and bunkers that define Winged Foot and the Bethpage Black Course, another Tillinghast design.
Shaftesbury, which opened its fairways on the Myrtle Beach golf scene in 2001, is a second shot course.
“You aren’t going to get in much trouble off the tee,” Ryan McCarty, Shaftesbury’s director of operations, said. “There aren’t many forced carries either, but you will need placement off the tee.”
A well placed drive will minimize the danger of the greenside bunkers and leave players with a high iron in-hand to execute the approach.
Johnston installed tee boxes at 5,989, 6,445 and 6,935 yards, so length shouldn’t be an issue for players willing to check their ego at the bag drop. When played from the right distance, Shaftesbury, a 4.5-star course according to Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play Guide” is challenging, but manageable.
A driver isn’t required on every hole as the emphasis for players should be on putting themselves in a comfortable position.
“If you are playing the (white or gold tees) you hit whatever will get you to 150 yards,” McCarty said. “Anything inside 150 yards will give you a club with enough loft to land your shot safely (on the green).”
Johnston did a nice job of varying the challenges required of players. Shaftesbury has three par 4s that play less than 380 yards from the tips and three that play more than 420, so a combination of power and finesse works best.
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On the front nine a pair of short par 4s at holes six and seven provide chances to pick up strokes before playing the toughest stretch. The eighth hole is a 210-yard par 3, the longest on the course, and water lurks on the left. Aim for the center of the green, take a rip, and hope for the best.
If your psyche survives, the 450-yard ninth hole, the longest par 4 awaits. To make that monster even more challenging, a creek meanders through the fairway, so drives need to stay left, minimizing the danger and setting up the best angle for a long approach.
The bentgrass greens at Shaftesbury are conducive to making putts. The greens are fast and don’t have a surplus of undulation – with the notable exception of No. 18 – so players that spend a few minutes on practice putting greens could be rewarded.
The Verdict: A Myrtle Beach golf vacation that includes a round at Shaftesbury Glen should be a good one. The course is a delight to play. Players can swing away, the greens are fast, and there are several memorable holes.