Ocean Ridge Plantation is home to The Big Cats – 90 holes of championship golf at Tiger’s Eye, Lion’s Paw, Panthers Run, Leopard’s Chase, and Jaguar's Lair (open in 2010). From sand traps to dunescapes, from pot bunkers to huge sand waste areas, from wetlands and marshes to water hazards and the gentle waters of the Atlantic, and from open forgiving fairways to tight twisting fairways, Ocean Ridge Plantation offers something for every golfer. All of the courses were designed by Tim Cate and each have won several awards including: Golf Magazine declaring Leopard's Chase as the #7 "Best New Golf Course in America," Golf Digest including Tiger's Eye in the "Top 10 in North Carolina" and one of "America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses," and Golf Digest naming Lion's Paw among "The Best in the Myrtle Beach Area."
During our fantastic golf vacation to Myrtle Beach, we played Leopard’s Chase and loved it – very scenic with varied terrain, two very different nines, fun layout, elevation changes, forced carries, risk reward opportunities, marshes and wetlands, water hazards, and sand and more sand, and lots more sand. In fact, I wonder if Myrtle Beach’s beaches have any sand left on them. Make sure you practice hitting out of the bunkers before you head out for your round on Leopard's Chase.
Leopard’s Chase is a challenging (slope of 140) track that is long (7155 yards) and tight and will test your skills at shot making, but if you pick the right set of tee boxes you'll have an enjoyable round of golf. There are some very fun, unique, and interesting holes including an island green that is surrounded with a large natural sand waste area. Leopard's Chase plays through 220 plus acres of natural coastal terrain, including preserved wetlands and a modest touch of native grasses and plantings.
The front nine is a par 35 with 3 par 3s and only one par 5. This nine is open, with lots of sand and sand waste areas, water, berms, dog legs, and more. It’s a fun nine and an opportunity to score well if you can hit it straight and catch the narrow guarded landing zones, and avoid the bunkers and sand on the way to the greens. #3 for example is a very challenging par 5 576 yard dog right with a waste bunker along half of the right side of the fairway, three different water hazards, plus three strategically placed bunkers along the left side.
The back nine is very different than the front – you’ll encounter a lot of forced carries over wetlands and marshs, tree lined fairways, big bunkers and waste areas, and a few very beautiful homes. For example, #11 has a forced carry over a marsh to a fairly small landing zone with several bunkers, then another carry over a marsh to another small fairway where you will need to carry the marsh once again to hit the green – long hitters and risk takers can try to carry the marshes but if you miss then par will be very difficult. And #14 will test your skills as you need to carry a marsh then hit a narrow ridge fairway as it dog legs left to the green – miss the second or third shot and you’re down near the marsh, in some bunkers, or in the pine needle beds under the trees. This nine has some very unique and challenging holes. #18 is an awesome hole with water on both sides of the fairways, a long sand bunker, a green next to a small pond that flows over a rock ledge into a lake – a Kodak moment and a hard hole to par.
The greens are bent grass and generally pretty big (30 to 50 yards deep) with slope, tiers, and undulation. When we played they had just been aerated and were very slow (7 to 8) – normally they run 10 to 11. They were in very good condition, held well, and were challenging for us to putt thanks to subtle breaks coupled with the slope and undulation.
The fairways were generally pretty tight, gently rolling and contoured, and have a small playable rough that was cut thin. Six of the fairways have long narrow waste/sand bunkers littered with small trees, bottle brush, and other minor hazards – the good news is that Myrtle Beach golf rules allow you to drive in them and give yourself a small relief like you would in the fairway.
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Service is fantastic - the staff is very friendly and helpful. The clubhouse has the basics - food, gear, and more. The practice facilities are adequate.