Review: The Witch, Man O' War, & (Wizard) Golf, SC

Myrtle Beach has a golf course on every corner so how are courses going to stand out in such a loaded market.  I think the two things that these courses did well and helped their visibility in such a crowded market were having excellent conditions and coming up with a catchy name.  There are lots of “pines”, “oaks”, “dunes” and “links”, but there is only one Witch, Wizard and Man-O-War.  Just those names are intriguing enough to bring some golfers in.  While this was my first trip to Myrtle Beach, I had heard of these courses before simply based on their creative names. 
But a name alone is not going to make a course great, that comes from a good layout with excellent conditions.  I found both of these factors at the Mystical Golf Courses I played.  While my rounds only consisted of the Witch and Man-O-War, the Wizard was right next door to Man-O-War and you could see the layout, and we assumed the conditions would be identical to the other two.  Dan Maples designed what looks to be 3 great courses in the Myrtle Beach area for any skill level of golfer.

Mystical Golf offers many different stay and play options allowing just about any size group on any budget to enjoy multiple rounds in Myrtle Beach.  While we already had lodging accommodations we did find even just the walk up golfers were treated very well.

Our group consisted of a lady, a senior, a high-handicap and myself.  We played from all the different tee-boxes to get a good feel of how theses courses played in terms of length and forgiveness.

The Witch

Casting a spell over the swamp land
The Witch Golf Course was carved out of trees and swampland just slightly west of Myrtle Beach.  It is just off the 501, which is the main route into town.  It is said to have over 4000 feet of bridge connecting the various holes.  After finishing on 18, I wondered if there might actually be more than 4000 feet of bridge.  This course is really carved out of some swampy, thick forestland.
Upon arrival we were kindly greeted by the bag drop assistant.  After some simple instructions about checking in we got all set to head out.  Before we embarked on the enchanting round through the Witch, the starter gave us some words of advice and help and really made us feel welcome at the course.

After a drive out the end of the parking lot, down the path to hole number 1 we saw a taste of what the day would be like.   A wide generous hole, carved out of the woods.  The front side plays much longer than the backside.  The first couple holes required similar tee-shots, yet the approach shots were much different.   The first par 3 was a mid ranged par three over a bunch of junk.  The angles were very different on each tee, but all appropriate for the skill level.  The next stretch of 3 holes was somewhat difficult.  The shorter par 4 4th hole has water down the left side of this hole almost the entire length with some very strategic bunkers on the right.  The par 5 5th hole is an S-shaped hole that is going to be a 3 shot hole for 99% of golfers, and the par 4 6th hole was one of the longest and most difficult par 4s on the course; requiring a long drive and then accuracy on the second shot.  The final 3 holes on the front side were more strategic than difficult.  The par 3 7th hole is fronted by water, but there is more than enough green and rough to work with on this longer hole.  The big bending right par 5 8th hole was not over difficult, just long, and the shorter par 4 9th hole was visually tricky, but played fairly tame.

After a drive up the road, along the parking lot, we stopped in for some excellent food and drinks from the clubhouse.  The Chicken Salad Sandwich is highly recommended.  The first 3 holes of the back nine wrap around the driving range.  The Par 4 10th hole is nothing too tough to start out the backside, while the par 5 11th hole runs along the road busy with traffic.  While the road is not right next to the hole, the road sounds are very different than the tranquil sounds on the rest of the course.  The par 3 12th hole is very simple, although fairly long. The par 5 13th hole tees off right next to the clubhouse and for the next 6 holes you are back into the swampland again.  The par 3 14th is the shortest hole on the course, but for some reason played fairly difficult for our group.  The longer par 4 15th offered a generous landing area, which leads to a lower green fronted, by swamp and creek.  The final three holes are a great closing stretch of holes that aren’t too tough, but yet maintaining focus to the end is important.  The dogleg right par 4 16th hole needs a well placed tee-shot in order to make par here.  The par 3 17th needs the ball to stay away from the left drop-off and woods.  The finishing hole is a very picturesque par 4 down hill right in front of the clubhouse.  

Our four some found this to be an enjoyable set up from every tee box, since there was ample distance from the tips, enough forgiveness for the high handicaps and sufficient advantage for the ladies that any group or mix of golfers should enjoy a round at the Witch.

Man O’ War

The Man-O-War Jelly fish is best known for how dangerous and deadly they can be in the ocean or on the beach. Well, the Man-O-War golf course might better be named Man-O-Water for its ample amount of deadly and dangerous water. On top of the amount of lakes and ponds on nearly every hole, the natural water that fell from the sky made for one wet round.

Again we were impressed by the Mystical Golf staff at Man-O-War.  We were greeted, welcomed and helped with all the necessary information for enjoying our round.  It wouldn’t take long to realize how much water was at and on the Man-O-War golf course.  It so happened the day before our round, Myrtle Beach had received inches of rain, restricting cart to path only for our round.  It was necessary. Carts would have destroyed the fairways the day we were there.  While there was no standing water on the course, most fairways were damp and squishy.  We didn’t get much roll on any shots that day.

Starting with a shorter par 5 wasn’t too bad, and really was one of the tamer holes of the day.  The par 3 2nd hole just offered a hint of what was to come with water long of this green.  The par 4 3rd and 4th holes were pretty much straightaway with a similar length.  While they played opposite directions and on each side of the driving range they weren’t nearly as frightening as the holes to come.  From the 5th hole until the finish of the front nine there seemed to be ample danger from water hazards.  The long par 4 5th hole had water all down the left side.  The decent length par 3 6th had water in front.  The par 4 7th had water all down the left side and the long par 5 8th had water on the left, tree on the right.  The par 4 9th is a long island hole.  There is water on both sides of the fairway and all behind the green.  While there is water on so many holes, at times it can feel intimidating, but our entire 4-some didn’t feel that it was impossible to hit a fairway or a green, actually there was more than ample room for tee shots and approach shots even for our high handicapper.  From the women’s tee there were very few forced carries over water.  Over all, the front side plays long enough and tough enough, but not abusive or unplayable.

After a quick stop in the clubhouse for a snack, (Chicken Salad Sandwich) we made our way to the back nine.  This nine has a little more war (water) in it.  While it doesn’t play as long, there are a few more water hazards and island holes on this 9.  Hole 10 is an average par 4 that has water fronting the green.  The par 4 11th comes back with water fronting this green too.  The par 4 12th has water in play on the left side, and the long par 5 13th doesn’t have much water, but plays long with OB all down the left side with houses.  The par 4 14th hole is the first island green.  But this green and surrounding area is huge and doesn’t feel like a little island.  The par 3 15th is also an island green, but this one too is very large with more than ample bail out area.  Unfortunately our round ended here because of the torrential rains and dangerous lightening.  Rain was coming down at the rate of 3” an hour.  We didn’t know that at first so we thought maybe we could wait it out, but a half hour later and 1.5” of rain everywhere, we decided to head in.  The course was nearly flooded on the greens and fairways.  We decided to sit in the dining area of the clubhouse and enjoy lunch.  The building was built on pillars in the middle of the lake.  It is really a cool setting for a clubhouse.

While we drove away the rain had slowed to a drizzle and surprisingly most of the rain on the course had soaked in.  I was impressed by the drainage and it looked like some golfers would still get their afternoon round in.  We had other activities to do that afternoon so we couldn’t finish our round, but the 14 holes we did get in were very enjoyable.

Their slogan is get ready for war, I think it might also be said to get ready for water.

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