It's Golf, Jim, But Not As We Know It
THE most depressing news of the week? Myrtle Beach’s Eagle Nest course has just announced a series of new tees that extend it to a possible 8,100-plus yards.
We keep being told that players are hitting the ball further than ever, and while that may well be true when it comes to the PGA and European Tours, there is little evidence that technology has made much difference when it comes to club golfers. Yes, big-headed drivers mean that higher handicap golfers hit the golf ball more consistently than they did, say, 20 years ago. But most high handicappers insist on using Pro V1 golf balls when their swing speeds simply are not fast enough to get the full benefit from that particular ball. They are falling for some clever marketing hype and are going out and buying expensive balls that should really only be used by low handicappers.
Myrtle Beach’s Little River Grand Strand district features a number of wonderful golf courses, but Eagle Nest is the first to go beyond 8,000 yards. And, seriously, who needs it, and who wants it? Harbour Town, where the RBC Heritage is staged annually, measures less than 7,100 yards but nobody tears it to shreds. It is a course that proves well-positioned bunkers and trees and small-is greens are enough to make life difficult for even the very best golfers in the world.
Unsurprisingly, Rick Elliott, who owns Eagle Nest with his mother, does not agree. "The Grand Strand needs this, and Eagle Nest is a good place for it. It has created an opportunity for the professional golfer to play there, and I think we need that. At some point there's no reason we can't have a tournament in this area. Now all I need is Dustin Johnson to step on the first tee of the perch tee boxes and see what he can do with it."
Some of the statistics are mind boggling. The four par threes will measure, wait for it, 283, 199 and 248 yards, while the 18th hole will come in at 266 yards, played over water to an elevated green.
Eagle Nest will open with a par five measuring an astonishing 645 yards, while seven of the par fours will measure more than 460 yards, with the second hole stretching out to 506 yards.
As Bones might have said to Captain Kirk in Star Trek: "It’s golf, Jim, but not as we know it."
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