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Wedgefield Plantation Golf Club south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: A return to glory

GEORGETOWN, S.C. -- Wedgefield Plantation Golf Club seems more plantation than country club with its live oaks and brick manor house that serves as its restaurant and 19th hole. Around back, you can imagine the croquet games once held on the lawn bordered by a brick wall.

Located about an hour south of Myrtle Beach, the property was a rice plantation in the 1700s, a perfect use of the tides that irrigated the fields then drained away.

A Vanderbilt heir bought it in the early 1900s for a country retreat and built the manor house that now serves as the club's restaurant and pub.

The Wedgefield Plantation golf course opened in 1972 and retains its classic elements: dual bunkers in front of elevated greens, gentle bends in fairways that require shaped shots to avoid live oaks and small ponds that force one to view a hole in chunks.
Over the years, the course itself has risen and fallen with economic tides. A management group took it over in the fall of 2010 and is making steady gains in restoring the course to its former glory. About 15 years ago, Golf Digest rated it in the top 15 of South Carolina golf courses.

The management group's work is beginning to take hold, with fairways filling in and greens in good shape, sending putts where you expect them to go.

Golfer Anthony Feagin said it's a challenging course, and "the rates are unbelievable."

He likes the fact that the course isn't often crowded and rounds conclude long before four hours are up.

Wedgefield rates a 74.1 and 136 slope from the 7,034-yard tips but is only a par 71 with just one par 5 on the back. However, it's a 37-35 combo for the front tees because No. 5 is a par 4/5.

The front nine is more open and dotted with tiny ponds that add some risk to several holes, including No. 5 with a one-two punch of two water hazards in the fairway. A pond also dominates the right side of the fairway in front of the ninth green.

The back has a trio of pretty holes, starting with the 12th. One of the best holes on the course is 14. In short, a river runs through it. You have two choices: Either try to clear all the water in one fell swoop off the tee, or hit a short tee shot to balance your ball on a small landing area, then go for a long second shot over more water toward the green.

Another great hole is the par-5 17th, which thins the fairway down to a ribbon between two marshes. If you spray a particular club, leave it in the bag on this hole. It then opens up to the green that fronts a beautiful view of miles of marsh.

And for one more reminder that this course is historic, the 18th hole leads one back to the manor house, with a row of 300-year-old live oaks off to the left. The brick wall-bordered back lawn hints of former Gatsby-like parties beneath the massive trees.

Coming full circle, Wedgefield again is a good "find" just over the Georgetown bridge on the southern tail of the Grand Strand.

It's steeped in history, conditions are improving and it retains what it always had: interesting, challenging holes along 300-year-old live oaks.

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