Time flies, and for proof, consider this: 25 years ago next month, Jack Nicklaus played the ceremonial first round at Pawleys Plantation, a gem he designed on the southern end of the Grand Stand.
The Golden Bear did the same — playing the first round on a course he designed — soon thereafter at Long Bay Club at the north end of South Carolina’s golf mecca in Longs.
To mark the anniversaries, National Golf Management, which either owns or manages 22 courses along the Strand, has put together a special deal: purchase its Prime Time Rewards package that includes rounds at four or more of its courses and receive a $100 gift card and a round at Pawleys Plantation for $25.
“Long Bay and Pawleys Plantation are the only two Nicklaus courses on the Grand Strand, and this is our way of celebrating their 25 years,” said Steve Mays, National Golf Management vice-president.
Although critics claimed Nicklaus made his early designs so challenging that only he could play them successfully, Long Bay pro Michael Burnside said, “Anyone can play and enjoy these courses. We had the women playing (at Long Bay) for two days during the World Amateur, and they loved the experience. You just have to play from the appropriate tees.”
Golfers leave each course with memories — the final six holes at Pawleys that wind through the marsh, and either the brutish finishing hole or the short par-4 10th at Long Bay.
At Pawleys, the marsh gurgles with golf balls that missed the peninsula green on the short par-3 13th, and the longer par-3 17th. Both tees are on a dike and play over the marsh. At Long Bay, the signature 10th has a fairway defined by hazards and plays to an elevated green. The par-4 18th calls for a demanding drive with water lurking on the right.
“Both courses have stood the test of time,” said Burnside, a long-time Grand Strand pro. “The architect’s talent is standing in the middle of a swamp or in a forest and saying, ‘There’s a good par-3,’ and that’s what Nicklaus did.”
Luken keeps beating time
Here’s a feat that qualifies for the never-to-be-broken list: Hilton Head Island resident Leo Luken shot his age or better for the 1,000th time Tuesday at the George Fazion course at Palmetto Dunes with a 92.
He “beat” his age by three strokes despite taking a nine on the par-4 8th hole and a double-bogey on the 18th. His round included a birdie on the par-3 6th hole.
Luken, who has a 21 handicap and plays three times a week, did not take up golf until he was 45. He first shot his age with a 68 at the age of 71. A former world-class softball pitcher, he is a member of the Indiana and Kentucky sports halls of fame.
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