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Indian Wells Golf Club near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: It'll bring a grin to your face

SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. -- Indian Wells Golf Club, designed in 1984 by Gene Hamm, is full of surprises, from trees in the middle of the fairway to bunkers hiding behind greens.

On several occasions, you'll find yourself standing on the tee trying to pick among several paths to the green. Grabbing the driver and blasting one rarely is one of those options.

"It's target golf, and I don't really like that," said Scott Anderson, playing golf in the Myrtle Beach area for the first time. "I like to use a driver off the tee."

But this is a course of strategy, not strength. One has to calculate the preferred landing spot to set up the next shot and the one after that, if it's a par 5.

You can see from the tee what might befall you if you miss. Trees close in on the right side, as on the first hole, or a fairway that falls into water if too long off the tee (also No. 1). Then there is trying to land your approach shot just so to keep it from being eaten by a large tree in the middle of the fairway. (Yup, No. 1 again.)

Indian Wells G.C. doesn't let up much as the round progresses. The second hole, a par 4, gives you a limited landing area between two water carries. The third hole, if playing from the middle or back tees, has a bit of a water carry to a narrow fairway. If playing from the front tees, it's a different hole entirely, with an angled tee shot past trees and bunkers.

Once you finally get to the greens -- a little worse for wear -- you'll find smooth, sloping greens of moderate size. Most are guarded by just a couple of bunkers.

Back to what it's like to get to them. The fifth hole, a par 5, goes easy on you for the majority of the hole, then you'll encounter a pond against the green. If the pin is right, don't be a sucker. Go for the safe route on the left.

The 13th gives you a corner to cut, but there are trees that make it a sewing exercise. If you skim one, there are bunkers waiting below to claim your shot.

The 15th has a double dose of pesky trees -- one off the tee and one at an over-the-water shortcut -- to thwart getting there in two on the par 5.

The course also leaves a lasting impression with the last hole. The 18th fairway is split by a ribbon of water that gives you two paths to the green, neither easy. The green also is right against that water, so its threat never leaves.

It's a fitting end to a golf course you'll want to play again because there are so many ways to approach it. You'll want to try them all.

Indian Wells Golf Club's motto could be "provoking generations of golfers since 1984." It's a group you'll be proud to belong to.

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