Ocean Ridge Plantation: Lion’s Paw Course (Ocean Isle Beach, NC on 04/06/17)

After our morning round we enjoyed about an hour relaxing, eating, and watching some of the Master’s coverage! In a twisted sort of way it was nice to see the pro’s struggle with the wind, just like we did that morning. And, we struggled again in the wind that afternoon on the Lion’s Paw course!

Lion’s Paw is the original course at Ocean Ridge Plantation and was designed by Willard Byrd and Tim Cate. Tim Cate went on to design the other three courses at the resort on his own, but from what I’ve found he worked under Byrd before doing his own thing. I’ve heard the name Willard Byrd before, but I don’t think that I’ve played any of his courses. Both designers have done plenty of work in the Myrtle Beach area though!

After lunch at the clubhouse, which was provided through our golf package (we got a great deal!) we were told that we could go out a bit early. We played from the white tees, which are 71.0/131/6457. From there, I found Lion’s Paw surprisingly difficult compared to the other two courses that we had played so far (Tiger’s Eye and Panther’s Run). As a whole, the course seemed less player friendly than the other’s with some narrower tee shots and smaller greens. There were a couple temporary sized greens! I do think that someone still can put together a decent score, it’s just that they may have to rally late with some birdies!

Early on the course hits you with some difficult holes! The 1st, and the 3rd through the 6th, can all pose problems. In fact the 1st is the #1 handicap while the 3rd is the #3 handicap! The 1st is a dogleg left where most will need to hit the tee shot to the corner of the dogleg before playing into the green. If you don’t get the tee shot just right, then you could end up in the trees on either side of the fairway. The 3rd is a decent length par 3 (at least from the white tees) and is all carry over water, to a shallow green. I don’t draw the ball consistently so that made shaping a driver on the 4th difficult with pine trees left and water looming right! The 5th doglegs almost 90 degrees right, with a bunker guarding the dogleg and the 6th is another par 3 with a carry over water.

If you can get through the first six holes here unscathed and assuming you can avoid disaster on the 10th, then you might be able to win some money from your buddies! The back is more open and you can worry a little less about which way the ball is going! Obviously, there is trouble on most courses if you bring the aerosol off the tee, but I see the 10th as the only real obstacle on the back nine. The 10th is 375 yards, which is a distance I normally like to hit driver unless the hole is downwind. Unfortunately, the fairway runs out straight ahead and to the right, into a creek. Being potentially forced to layup and then having a demanding approach isn’t my idea of a great hole. And, if you draw the ball then you are going to have to challenge the tree line on the right with your drive. Eek!

The closing three holes offer a chance to make some birdies and go home feeling good! The 16th is a short par 4 with multiple options off the tee and the par 3 17th should only be a mid or short iron. If you haven’t already noticed by the time you get to the 17th, make sure to check out the hazard highlighted by crushed shells. The front nine has two of the shell hazards, on the 3rd and the 8th. They sure add a nice look when paired with the green grass and the blue sky!

The conditions at Lion’s Paw were also good. The greens here were quicker compared to the other courses, and with the wind blowing I had to be careful not to let my putts get away. The greens were smooth and almost blemish free. The fairways and tees were nice as well. The only trouble was again, all the water filled bunkers. Such is life though!

To me, Lion’s Paw is a course that could be found anywhere in the Southeast. I think it is a fairly average design with a couple weak holes. Plus, there are two stretches of holes overshadowed by the nearby homes. After playing all four courses at Ocean Ridge Plantation, Lion’s Paw is 4th, if I’m forced to rank them. Is it worth skipping? For us, no and that’s because we got one of the rounds free by booking all four courses on the property.

#1 (387 yard par 4):

#2 (477 yard par 5):

#3 (178 yard par 3):

#4 (385 yard par 4):

#5 (399 yard par 4):

#6 (175 yard par 3):

#7 (364 yard par 4):

#8 (495 yard par 5):

#9 (352 yard par 4):

#10 (375 yard par 4):

#11 (188 yard par 3):

#12 (372 yard par 4):

#13 (493 yard par 5):

#14 (396 yard par 4):

#15 (408 yard par 4):

#16 (353 yard par 4):

#17 (154 yard par 3):

#18 (506 yard par 5):


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