By Tom Cunneff
Entering Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, mossy oaks line the avenue and set the tone for the day, strategically as well as aesthetically. The Southern stateliness that frames the drive to the clubhouse frames many of the upcoming drives off the tee, and some of the approaches into the greens, as well.
Myrtle Beach’s best or second-best course (depending on the list) opened in 1994, the first solo design of Mike Strantz, the late architect who became known for creating love-’em-or-hate-’em designs like Tobacco Road in North Carolina.
But there’s nothing divisive about Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, unless you’re a little claustrophobic or opposed to large, undulating greens. The owners, who bought the former rice plantation in 1971 for hunting and fishing, told Strantz to preserve the land’s natural beauty: He removed just one oak.
What the course lacks in length at just over 6,500 yards, it makes up for in shot selection and sense of place. About the only hole where the ball-batting behemoths don’t affect shot selection is the 383-yard 18th, probably the hardest hole on the course. Water hugs the right side of the slim fairway, while the approach must carry a lake to a kidney-shaped green that sits close by the antebellum-style clubhouse. Observers gather on the porch to cheer or jeer others’ shots; they’ve also been known to place a wager or two on them.
No one should bet against Caledonia.