A Place for Everyday Living...and Golf

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The 7th at Wachesaw might be the toughest par 3 in the Myrtle Beach area.

 

Review:  Wachesaw Plantation, Murrells Inlet, SC

    For pure dollar value, Wachesaw Plantation is the best choice among the private golf communities on the southern end of Myrtle Beach's Grand Strand.  DeBordieu Colony and its Pete Dye golf course?  Terrific, if you are willing to pay a roughly 20% real estate premium for the private beach that is a long bicycle ride away for many who live in the community.  The Reserve at Litchfield Plantation and its Greg Norman course?  Quite nice, but homes are slightly more expensive than at Wachesaw, and golf membership fees almost $10,000 higher.  Also, The Reserve offers only single-family homes, fine forwachesaw16thtee.jpg those looking for a permanent home but a bit expensive for those looking for a second home.  Wachesaw may be 15 minutes from the nearest beach, and its array of cottages and villas might strike some as stealing a little panache from its impressive mostly brick single-family homes, but the developers took great pains to make the $200,000 condos fit harmoniously among the wondrous and ancient live oaks.
    As for the private golf courses on the South Strand, I have played and enjoyed them all.  DeBordieu and The Reserve are fine layouts, but they are not nearly the best examples of their designers' body of work.  Wachesaw, on the other hand, is fascinating as it is an early example of Tom Fazio's particular design approach.  Unlike Jack Nicklaus, whose early designs are aggressive, as if the Golden Bear were trying to make an early career statement, Fazio's young design at Wachesaw is an act of restraint, as if he were more concerned with creating a classic than with eye candy.  
    Wachesaw Plantation is a course that you could play every day without either becoming bored or exhausted, and one that will appeal to both low and high handicappers who make the correct choice of tee boxes.  The Fazio fairways are wide enough, but not so wide as to encourage wanton gripping and ripping.  The huge fairway bunkers appear to function more as frames than hazards, but you will pay a severe penalty if a too-casual shot finds one of them.  The greens are not overly large, and entry points are generous, but the bunkers that guard the putting surfaces can give you a lot of lip (literally and figuratively). Wachesaw's members are loyal and passionate supporters of their course, and justifiably so.
    Few hole designs at Wachesaw hit you in the face with their dramatis personae.  That is not a criticism; better to have 18 good looking, well-designed holes than 18 that try too hard.  There are no clunkers atwachesawrichmondhillruins.jpg Wachesaw, and a few days after my round, two holes remain memorable for me.  The par 3 7th could very well be the toughest one-shot hole in Myrtle Beach, all carry of about 170 yards to a green with water at front and on the left and saw-grass-covered mounds to the immediate right.   The small bunker at right rear is the only bailout on the hole, but that leaves a dicey play downhill to the pin, bringing the water into play for an aggressive bunker shot.  A stunning hole to look at and play, and par is a great score.
    The other memorable hole for me, as it should be on any course, is the finisher, a par 5 at well over 500 yards, where two well-struck shots leave a wedge to the peninsula green.  The drive must find the center-right side of the fairway to avoid a bounce down the slope toward woods and water.  If your lay-up threads the needle, your reward is a wedge to a narrow green that slopes down to the left toward a finger of the peaceful Waccamaw River, which serves as the Intra-coastal Waterway and the entire panorama behind the green.  Don't be distracted by the occasional huge yacht floating by.  To add to the challenge, members having a meal or drink on the clubhouse veranda have a perfect view of the 18th green and may cheer their fellow members' successes (or razz them for a double bogey, or worse).
    The course was in splendid condition for early March.  I didn't have to move my ball once in the fairways, which had not been over-seeded but were already showing little signs of summer green.  Golf courses are wise to save money by letting their fairways go dormant without the expense of interfering.  The greens, which had been aerated 10 days earlier, putted true at medium speed.  My gracious host for the day, Alan Nisiol, told me the greens superintendent will be increasing the speed in the coming weeks.  That will be quite a treat.    
    Of the south Strand private golf communities, Wachesaw has the best wachesaw11greenhomeatside.jpgaccess to services, sited just two miles west of Highway 17, the major north/south route along the coast.  Myrtle Beach Airport is a mere 20 minutes away, and the Inlet Square Mall and a choice of many restaurants are just five minutes away.  A modern hospital is less than five minutes, and although the beach is almost a 15-minute drive, the Waccamaw River that runs along the edge of the community provides plenty of watery compensation for the eyes.
    The two-mile ride from the highway to the front gate of Wachesaw once was a drive for sore eyes, composed of shacks with broken down appliances and furniture on the front lawns.  But the rising prices of the early 2000s lifted all tides, and virtually all of those owners have sold to others who have torn down the homes and rebuilt.  Wachesaw's own housing is an eclectic mix that offers something for everyone.  The 2 BR, 2 BA cottages are a short stroll to the river and clubhouse; one is currently listed at $199,000. 

    Single-family home prices have sunk along with the market locally, and the 25 currently on the market in the gated community run from the high $300s to just under $1 million.  One has recently been marked down from $467,000 to $397,000 and includes 5 BR, 4 BA and 4,000 square feet, one of the best buys per square foot in the area.  If you prefer to build your own home, a nice ½ acre corner lot is currently on the market at $190,000, and other choices, all re-sales, are available.  Many properties are festooned with gnarly and dramatic live oaks, more within Wachesaw than any community I have visited.
    Wachesaw Plantation Club offers a variety of both equity and non-equity memberships.  The standard equity membership is $23,100 with dues of $438 per month for the full-family plan.  For those who don't own property in Wachesaw and reside outside a 100-mile radius of the club, a National Membership may be the way to go.  After application and initiation fees that total $850, the national member is entitled to all the privileges of a regular member, except voting rights.  At $208 per month for a couple (and their children under 23), dues and assessments are half of what regular members pay.  For active golfers who vacation in the Myrtle Beach area for a few months per year, the math can work out very well.
    For information about real estate in Wachesaw, contact me .

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The 18th green at Wachesaw is surrounded by the Waccamaw River, the clubhouse and the everpresent live oaks.