Okay, maybe a lot of golfers just want to get to the clubhouse, check in, hop in a cart and start their rounds. But I’m one who enjoys the journey as well as the destination.
That’s why I dig taking the straight, long drive up to the stately clubhouse at Dunes West Golf and River Club in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., a path that takes you past tall live oaks draped with Spanish moss. It’s a very cool way to unwind and get set to enjoy one of the best daily fee layouts in the Lowcountry.
Dunes West plays anywhere from 6,859 yards down to 5,208 yards from the forward markers. Water comes into play on seven holes and the fairways are fairly large and forgiving. The greens are mildly undulating and guarded by bunkers, both sand and grass.
What I was impressed with the last time I played was the superb overall quality of the course, from the lush fairways, greens and tee boxes to the little things, like trimming around the bunkers and cart paths. I’m big on aesthetics and Dunes West delivers on that front.
It’s also a very good test of golf, not punishing mind you, but a course that will bite you if you don’t pay attention, especially on your approach shots to medium-sized greens that are often protected by sand bunkers, water or both.
Number four at Dunes West, a 489-yard par-five, is a well thought out design. A big tee shot leaves the player with an opportunity to go for the green in two. But it demands a carry across a pond that runs down the left side of the fairway to the green. Risk versus reward at its best.
Number seven is another fun par-five, measuring 497 yards from the tips, and it can be reached in two by big hitters who draw the ball around the corner on this dogleg left. But there’s water on that side of the hole, running from the teeing area to about 135 yards away from the green. The wiser play is to take the tee shot straight, lay up and leave yourself with a pitch. I take the latter route and par is easily attainable.
Number 14 is one of the toughest par-fours in the area. It plays 470 yards from the back tees and requires a long, straight drive followed by a long iron or fairway wood. A bunker on the right front of the green gobbles up balls hit too short and a bit errant.
Numbers 16 through 18 are a fine trio of holes.
The 16th is a testing par four, measuring 412 yards from the tips. There is a huge sand trap guarding the right side of the fairway. The approach must be true to a small green that has a pond on the right side.
The 17th may be the best par-three on the course, a long 214 yards from an elevated tee with the first shot needing to stay away from a pond on the right side. Bail out left and you are dry but left with a very tough up and down, as the green slopes away from you.
The 18th plays 456 yards from the back and finishes by an Old South-style clubhouse that is surrounded by live oaks. The second shot has to be struck true to avoid a marsh to the left and front. The wise play is to fade the ball to the right side of the green, where you can get up and down if you miss the putting surface.