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True Blue Plantation bends the rules on Myrtle Beach-area golf

PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. -- True Blue Plantation didn't get the memo about what makes a traditional golf course.

First off, it comes up with a par-72 golf course by adding 37 to 35 on the back. It welcomes walkers at any hour. Its pro shop hours follow the sun: Open at daybreak, close at dusk. It rates all five tees for men, and three for women. A local rule declares all sand areas as waste bunkers. When you play the golf course, you'll want to kiss them for that.

It missed another memo, too, about not surprising poor, hapless golfers. On several occasions, everything around the next corner is a mystery. Guess you'll have to play here again.

Oh, except for the fact that True Blue Plantation itself can transform at any time.

On the sixth hole, for example, you might play the left green one day and the right green a day later. On the par-3 14th hole, there exist eight tee possibilities.

You'll find pins in extreme positions. Not a big deal? It is when some greens tip the scales at almost 60 yard wide.

"There can be a three-club difference, based on pin position," said Bob Seganti, True Blue Plantation's director of golf.

One almost fears a game of touch football could break out on the putting surfaces.

True Blue Plantation's outstanding service

But they did get the memo on what makes a golf course great. True Blue specializes in outstanding service. It stays in nearly perfect condition and displays abundant creativity in design.

True Blue could have published such a memo, in fact.

It's also a comfortable place, unattached to pretense. You want to hit some range balls? Help yourself and fish out a bucketful of crystal balls from a large bin next to the driving range.

For lunch or a libation after golf, verandas stretch across the length of the True Blue Plantation clubhouse for a perfect view of the group making its way down the par-4 final hole, a balancing act between water and waste bunker.

Inside, the pro shop is large and bursts with merchandise. It features a constant sale table, so there's something there for every budget.

As for the golf course itself, it's tough to pick just a few holes to highlight, but let's start with no. 2. The par 4 includes a blind shot to a hazard-heavy green, with bunkers short and right, vegetation left and trees in front. The back of the green is the only area unscathed.

Another is the par-3 third hole, with its hourglass green of nearly 60 yards in width -- half surrounded by sand, the other half by water. Getting there requires a 190-yard shot from the tips to a scant 100 or less, depending on the location of the tee on the gargantuan green.

Four of the five par 5s are doglegs, so designer Mike Strantz dangles risk-reward opportunities, tempting you to soar over sand, water or trees. He makes it seem so easy until you try.

True Blue Plantation offers a warm, cozy venue with a quirky, brilliant golf course unlike anything else. It's not lacking a thing, memo or no memo.

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