Caledonia Golf & Fish Club - Pawleys Island, SC
Updated: May 13
Next time you're in Myrtle Beach and are bored playing the same courses, do yourself a favor and head to the southern end of the Grand Strand. Play this rock star of a course composed by golf's true rock star architect, Mike Strantz. Anyway you slice it (see what I did there), this is a consensus Top 100 course that you can play.
Bring your A-game and A-lot of courage. You'll need both to tame Caledonia.
This was a bucket list course for me. I have heard a lot and I have read a lot and I have driven by the sign on US Highway 17 a lot, so my expectations were set too high. Rarely does anything not disappoint when faced with such a high bar, but this place lives up to the hype and I can’t wait to play it again.
"Caledonia is 152 acres of fury"
Tucked away from the main drag you enter an oak alley that borders rice fields and the Waccamaw River beyond. It’s a great property full of water and wildlife. In a former life, it was a hunting and fishing preserve (hence the nod in the name, some still fish on the grounds). Oak and pine trees are all over the course and come into play often, especially if you start getting crooked.
Clubhouse/Pro Shop/Practice Facility
An uncommonly small Clubhouse with a small pro shop and a small dining room but the veranda wraps around and is usually full of spectators watching the approach on 18. The practice facility is unique in that there is a great chipping area with a few different greens but a small putting green down the way and no range on site. The range is down the road at True Blue. Range balls are included in the greens fee, which is nice, but it is not exactly convenient.
Mike Strantz’s first solo design and likely his most notable. All the tee markers are different types of ducks so it’s best to touch up on your avian identification because the tee markers are literally just ducks sitting there trying to confuse you. I played something called the Pintail tees.
"Where'd you get that mallard?"
His unique routing and bunkering are everywhere and he managed to find (or perhaps create) some elevation too.This may seem novel elsewhere in the country, but it is nearly impossible to find in coastal South Carolina. There is even a blind tee shot on the eighth (if you've not played a Strantz course, you're bound to get at least one blind shot a round. The course has five par 3s but there probably should have been six (more on that later).
Strantz's penchant for drama via bunkering comes at you full speed on the 13th hole. It is a par four with basically an island green after a dogleg left. I really enjoyed every turn around this course until I got to the home hole. It is a short par four that seems crammed in there to make use of the view along the rice fields. I hit a 6-iron off the tee, quite badly if I must say, and left myself a 7-iron in. This is not how a closer should play. Now, the second shot is all carry over water but I wish he made it a long par 3. Imagine sticking a 200-220 yard carry tight with the typical standing audience that gathers on the clubhouse veranda. Now that would be an incredible finish.
This is a fun course that is very different from the normal coastal resort feel. Strantz created a look that no one else will likely ever copy and it hits my eye just right. But I think it’s time to talk about value because this place ain’t cheap. I like Strantz designs so it is a must for me but probably not for everyone, especially someone who could care less. It can run you up well over $100 in the peak season, so it may not fit everyone’s budget. I plan to go back, but will make sure it’s during the summer when it’s hotter and cheaper. A feather in the cap to the rangers out there, I have never seen so many groups play so quickly and efficiently on a course before. I feel like there was no waiting during the round and I must have watched 15 groups tee off in front of me.
Lastly, a bit of life coaching...move to Pawleys Island, SC. For under $2,000 plus cart fees you can become a member here...WHICH INCLUDES True Blue across the street.
Crusader Rating: 4 1/2 STARS
Last played in November 2017
(Ray) "Where do these stairs go?" (Peter)"...They go up."