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Wicked Stick Golf Links near Myrtle Beach: Stress-free golf on South Carolina's Grand Strand

SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. -- Wicked Stick Golf Links is the place to go if you just have to smash some golf balls as far as you can with little repercussions.

Even if your shot gets away from you and starts heading cross-country, mounds will funnel your drive back onto the fairway. No pain, all gain.

Where your game gets a workout is at the greens, all well protected by sand and turf bunkers -- some big, some small pot bunkers.

In many respects, this John Daly-Clyde Johnston collaboration right on the U.S. 17 bypass in Myrtle Beach is stress-free golf. "Grip it and rip it" is the golf course's motto. The staff is friendly and amiable. They know why you're here: to be able to enjoy your round despite a driver that tends to wander, or to breathe some life into a game that's been hibernating.

The starter gets you going after a run through of what to expect. For example, if you land one ball or many in someone's yard along the course, leave it there. Keep track of how many you lose and staff will replace them at the end of your round. See? Stress-free golf.

Danny Nystrom heads to Wicked Stick when his game is a little erratic or rusty.

"It gives me more confidence," he said. "I like the aesthetics from the tee boxes. It's a fair course."

Despite its generosity, Wicked Stick throws out some challenges, too, such as the very tight No. 6 that funnels the fairway between water right and out of bounds left. A huge bunker creeps in from the right at the green, giving a pretty little window to run up the ball.

"I like No. 9. It's one of my favorites," Nystrom said. "I like the long par 3, No. 7. It's challenging. If you get a par on that, you feel pretty good. From the tips, it's 265 yards, sometimes with the wind in your face."

The 15th, a par 4, requires you to tamp down your drive so you don't tumble into water about 250 yards out from the middle tees. Place your drive just so to give yourself a nice short iron onto the green fronted by water and sand with a drop-off in back.

In Clyde Johnston style, each nine gets tougher as it goes. That means Nos. 9 and 18 are the most dramatic.

No. 9 is a par 4 that requires a carefully executed drive a little to the left to get to the offset green. If you're too far right, you could fall into a pond or leave yourself with a water carry to the green fronted by bunkers. It's a fun hole.

No. 18 ends is similar fashion but starts with a dogleg left with a trio of bunkers waiting for drives that run through the fairway. Between you and your approach shot are plenty of mounds to keep your stance uneven.

By then, you'll be ready to spend some time in one of the rocking chairs on the porch or in the Long Ball Lounge and recount to your new friends how far you hit it. As to where that ball landed, eh, not so important. Not at Wicked Stick.

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