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Azalea Sands Golf Club in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: Back to the basics

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- There's nothing fancy about Azalea Sands Golf Club, located in North Myrtle Beach, and that's its appeal.

It's a good excuse to dust off the clubs and see how they feel after a few weeks or months off.

Azalea Sands also is a good place to disappear for a few hours (rarely more than four) and enjoy being outside, with no houses around, only grass, trees, sand and water.

"The biggest draw we have is we're friendly, both the people and the course," said Craig Kenley, first assistant golf professional at Azalea Sands.

The course has four tee sets, ranging from 6,902 yards down to 5,148 yards, and there are several ways to attack each hole. The 35-year-old course doesn't have run-ups to each green, but there are water carries off the tee.

The fairways are wide, the greens smooth and moderately sloped and the change of pace keeps you on your toes.

There is only one true dogleg on the course, the 13th hole turns right around water, but other fairways bend to bring trees into play if you aren't paying attention.

Designed by Gene Hamm, notable holes include the second, a finesse hole only 237 yards from the whites to a 25-yard deep green sharply sloped toward bunkers in front of the hole. A water hazard about 55 yards from the green could imperil an attempt to drive the hole. Pick your poison on this one.

The par-3 fifth hole gives you a lot to watch: The pond about 100 yards from the white tees, a bunker on its far side, then up to a green surrounded by bunkers. Trees are close on the left, and a golf ball hitting wood is a common sound. It's a fierce little par 3, measuring 195 yards from the tips down to 168 from the whites and 131 yards from the front.

Rounding out the front is a par-4, 385-yard hole hammered by bunkers. There is a steady string of them on the right and a hefty one on the left closer to the green, which has a set of four.

The 10th hole, a par 4, pinches the landing area for 200-yard drives between globs of bunkers left and right. From there, it's a couple more bunkers in front of the green.

The 11th is a tough par 5 with a double water carry. The pond toward the green is pretty sizable in comparison to other water hazards on the course, but it's a shorter hole so you can leave yourself with your preferred length to the elevated green.

The course concludes with two nice holes. The 17th brings water into play if you miss left and a bunker if you miss right. From there, you shift left to the large green.

Bringing it in for a landing, the 18th is a straight par 5 with trees close on the right with bunkers below them for double trouble. A water carry angles across the fairway about 110 yards from a green adorned with a bunker quadruplet.

The next step should be enjoying a snack or beverage on the patio overlooking that last green. Yup, Azalea Sands has all of the golf basics.

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