How to score well at Island West Golf Club in Bluffton, South Carolina
BLUFFTON, S.C. -- Island West Golf Club, designed by Clyde Johnston and Fuzzy Zoeller, mixes up the pace -- a tough hole is followed by an easy hole, a short one by a long one, and vice versa.
A new attribute to the golf course is one of the best GPS systems I've seen. Ranger Plus has color maps of each hole, so you can see what's ahead and how far away it is. It's particularly helpful on No. 3, with a skinny run-up between marsh that you can't really distinguish from the tee. Thank you, Island West!
So, now that you know what's ahead, here are some suggestions of how to chalk up some birdies.
No. 1: Par 5. The drive is open, but aim your second shot left of the green at the end of the fairway. If too far, you'll land in a bunker. The green is well protected front and back by bunkers. The green is wider than deep, so angling in from the left gives you more green to work with.
No. 2: Par 3. It's a short hole with nowhere to tuck the pin. This has tweety possibilities.
No. 3: Par 4. This is about placement, not distance. The trick is avoiding the twin marsh area with a thin chute in between. The best bet is to play to a favorite yardage short of the hazards. The large green is receptive.
No. 4: Par 5. This is the toughest hole at Island West Golf Club. The fairway slopes right into water hazards at landing areas for both your drive and your second shot, so try to keep it left from start to finish. This is a survival hole.
No. 5: Par 4. Take advantage of this short hole that doglegs right. You can try to carry the trees, but you won't gain much at best and you'll be trapped behind a tree at worst. Any drive past the trees should give you an easy, short shot to the green.
No. 6: Par 4. The fairway falls off on the right, but there's plenty of room. There's little trouble, and lots of chances at a flawless hole.
No. 7: Par 4. Play this puppy straight because there is water past the tree you think you want to go over. The smart play is the middle of the fairway for an easy shot to the green. If you're short, you'll face a water carry.
No. 8: Par 3. It's a large green, so go for the pin and ignore the tree on the right. It shares its green with No. 17, so remember how you played this hole, then repeat.
No. 9: Par 4. Keep it in the middle to avoid the possibility of water right and a bunker on the left.
The back nine at Island West Golf Club
No. 10: Par 4. Go easy on this dogleg right and you'll be just fine. Make sure your drive passes the trees on the right (go for the 150-yard marker) to set up a shot to the green over a marsh carry. Don't be short or you'll be bounced back into the marsh. If you miss, being too long is the better alternative.
No. 11: Par 4. Another short, not-too-difficult hole if you don't overanalyze it. There are bunkers on the right to avoid, but there's plenty of landing area. Play your tee shot to a comfortable yardage. The upper portion of the front bunkers will grab anything short of the green, so a tad too long is better than being short.
No. 12: Par 3. It's a very deep green, so take enough club to get to the pin.
No. 13: Par 4. Play this hole gently and as prescribed. Don't try to cut the corner and be happy with a par.
No. 14: Par 5. Play this one down the middle toward the far bunkers. If you're a long hitter, you could take a blind shot at the green over the trees and get there in two.
No. 15: Par 4. Very straightforward. No real trouble on this hole if you keep it in the fairway.
No. 16: Par 5. This is a straight hole, but steer a little left as you close in on the green for a better approach angle.
No. 17: Par 3. This shares a green with No. 8, but with more of a water carry and a little more wind. You're forgiven if you're a little long, not so much if you're short due to the bunkers in front.
No. 18: Par 4. The last hole tightens the screws a little with woods on the left, and water on the right off the tee and again at the green, but nothing too scary.