The Golf Shop Radio Show Spotlight: Pawleys Plantation

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In January 2019, the Golf Shop Radio Show aired its interview with Brian Lewis of Pawleys Plantation, one of 12 award-winning courses that are part of the Waccamaw Golf Trail. Below is a transcript of that interview.

Speaker 1: Joining us now, he’s the head golf professional down at Pawleys Plantation, down on the Waccamaw Golf Trail, Brian Lewis joins us. Brian, welcome into the Golf Shop.

Brian Lewis: Good morning gentlemen. How are you?

Speaker 3: Good.

Speaker 1: We’re doing awesome. The rain has stopped. It seems like it’s been raining for six months now. How’s it going down there in the Myrtle Beach area?

Brian Lewis: It’s great. I’m sitting here having a cup of coffee, actually, looking outside at the big, yellow sunshine. And it’s great to see.

Speaker 1: Yeah, so if people haven’t played Pawleys Plantation Golf and Country Club, give us a feel for what they would expect as they stand on the first tee and make their way through the 18 holes.

Brian Lewis: Yeah, Pawleys is pretty unique. It’s the best of the Lowcountry, I would say. There are a lot of live oak trees with the Spanish moss falling out of ’em. So it’s a tale of two nines – you get a lot of that on the front nine, and then swing over to the back. Six of our nine holes have either marsh views, or you’re hitting over the salt marsh to your target. It’s an excellent, excellent golf course.

Speaker 1: Wait, so you’re telling me I need to bring more than one golf ball maybe?

Brian Lewis: Actually, yes, we sell double dozens in the golf shop for those that may not be that accurate.

Speaker 3: Double dozens. I like that, Brian.

Speaker 1: So I haven’t played it. But looking at the pictures, like you said, there’s a mix. There are some holes that are kind of straight away, but have some bunkering and a little bit of tree action going on. There are some holes that are a little more open, have a little more bunkering, some water, some marsh land. So there’s a nice mix in this golf course.

Brian Lewis: Absolutely. One thing about the course, it is a Jack Nicklaus signature design, and he didn’t hold back when he designed this 30 years ago. 2018 was our 30th anniversary, and you know it was a great time. But at Pawleys, the three par threes that we have are most notably our signature holes – 13 being the best, if you will. We call it the shortest par five on the beach.

Speaker 1: So you’re telling me a fade is going to work out here?

Brian Lewis: No, believe it or not, the guy who faded the ball his entire career did not set a golf course up for a fade.

Speaker 3: That’s one of the first times I’ve ever heard of such a thing, Brian. Really.

Brian Lewis: No, two of our hardest holes, they’re set up for right to left shot, and we can’t figure that out. So …

Speaker 1: But wait a minute, he left the tree in the middle of the 14th fairway.

Brian Lewis: He also did on nine as well.

Speaker 1: Oh, I see that too. Yeah. So do those trees come into play? Are they like the Eisenhower Tree, where you have to maneuver your way around it?

Brian Lewis: Nine, not so much. Nine, if you’re a longer hitter, you can take it over the tree. If you’re a shorter hitter, you’re going to roll it just under the tree, and it’s tall enough that the branches don’t get in the way, but 14, it’s a little different. There’s a large landing area out to the right, and that’s really where you want to aim. That way you’re not obstructed by the tree, but if you hit one down there behind the tree, you do have to play either some type of cutter or hook to get around that for your third shot into the green.

Speaker 3: Brian, the other pros and GMs of the Waccamaw Golf Trail golf courses that we’ve talked to usually say something to the effect and if you’re playing the back tees, you better have game. It looks, at 7,031 yards, is if that might be the case at Pawleys as well. Is that true?

Brian Lewis: It is. I don’t know how long it was after Jack designed the course, but he did either a radio or some type of print interview, and somebody had asked him about his design. And he said that, yeah, he possibly may have made Pawleys a little too hard for the average golfer, but, over the years we’d soften the course up to make it a little more playable and very rarely do we get anyone that says it’s too hard for them. And they have a blast out there.

Speaker 1: Yeah, 75.7, slope of 148 from those tips. One of the things that I’ve been asking everybody at these different golf courses: is there a shot? And this is always the case for me when I play golf courses. Is there a shot for you that just is one of those ones that you’re just waiting for the whole day? And then again, what’s your favorite hole in the golf course?

Brian Lewis: The shot for me is keeping it between the trees. If I could hit fairways the day’s usually going to be pretty good … But as the drive’s working for me during the round, it should be a pretty good day. (Choosing a) favorite hole at Pawleys is tough, but it’s like I said, 13’s our signature hole. One of our most underrated par threes is number 3 with big huge lake down the left. There are bunkers guarding the front of the green and it’s a gorgeous hole. But the six holes that I was talking about on the back nine, those are the ones that people like the most. Coming up to 12, you’ve got the marsh in the back. If you play across the marsh on 13 and 17, and then 18 is probably one of the most picturesque holes. You’ve got the marsh down the left side, and as you’re hitting your approach into the green, you’ve got the backdrop of our big clubhouse back there.

Any hole you play, I think, there’s nothing that’s s a hole that’s just ho-hum. They’re all fun and you can remember something on each hole there.

Speaker 1: Yeah, and it’s nice to see too. For me, I always want to hit different shots during a round. I don’t want to have all the par fours be something and a wedge or something and an eight iron and nine iron. I want to be able to have to hit some longer shots. And the same thing with par threes and par fives. I want risk-reward on par fives. And it sounds like that this course has a nice blend in the par threes and the fours and the fives where you do have to hit some different shots, but you also have to manage your game as well.

Brian Lewis: Oh yeah. That’s true of any golf course. But here, for sure, if you’re going to take the risk, hit it good, so that you do get the reward, because if not, you’re going to be behind one of those big live oaks or you’re going to be sitting out there in the marsh and the crabs are going to take your ball off right into the creek.

Speaker 1: How’s the tee sheet looking this weekend? Do you have some spots open if somebody’s heading down that way? What do they need to do?

Brian Lewis: Our tee sheets have been pretty good. We do have some openings. You can always call the golf shop direct to book your tee times, that’s 843-237-6200. Or there are online booking engines. You can go to waccamawgolftrail.com. You can get our websites at pawleysplantation.com, mbn.com and myrtlebeachgolftrips.com. Those are four of the major websites that you can go and check out. Or if you’re staying at one of the resorts in town, whether it be Tilghman Beach and Golf Resort, there’s someone there that can help you book your golf as well.

Speaker 3: I’m looking at this rate from 12 to 1 p.m. of $39. That’s a heck of a deal down there. You’ve got to be loaded up from 12 to 1 p.m., I would think.

Brian Lewis: Yep, it gets pretty busy. We get those folks who want to come out and get the value, and then for the course that they’re playing, they’re getting a tremendous value here.

Speaker 1: Yeah, how has it worked for you guys down there? Is it really weather dictated this time of year? If a 70 degree day is predicted or a 70 degree weekend, do the phone line start lighting up? And how busy do you get? And if it’s 40 or 50 degrees, what kind of play do you get in the golf course?

Brian Lewis: 50 degrees is that threshold this time of year. And even cooler temperatures. This time of year, we do get a lot of folks from the Northeast, New England area. We get a lot of folks from Canada that come down and they’ll stay for a month, two months, three months. Those folks that are freezing up there and they have snow, they don’t mind going out if it’s 40 to 50 degrees. But if you get 50 to 55 degrees and it’s definitely, if you get a 70-degree day, you’re going to be busy that day, no matter what golf course.

Speaker 1: Yeah, so when do you actually start picking up consistently in the springtime? Is it a late February? Is it a March? What kind of timeframe do we look at when everything starts really picking up down there?

Brian Lewis: About mid-February, we start to see an increase of people to come down. The folks from the North that can’t come down for a month or whatever, they’ll sneak out for four or five days to come down and play some golf. And then March, we really get busy. And April’s our banner month most years, as far as rounds that we play. And then May is very strong. And even now, the trends are changing. The first couple of weeks of June have been pretty busy as well. So our season has expanded quite a bit there.

Speaker 1: What’s been the overall trend, the last probably couple of years? We did know that the rounds of golf were down a few years ago. Have you seen this trending back up again?

Brian Lewis: For the most part, rounds are flat, but I’ve been reading some articles here and there with PGA of America and the USGA, that made a big push for junior golf. So we’ve got a lot of juniors that are playing, and once they’re through their college years or whatever, then starting out in the real world with a job, I do believe we’re going to see a huge uptick in golf here, say within the next five to 10 years.

Speaker 3: Yeah. I think, as a country, in the PGA, we’ve done a heck of a job with the juniors. And The First Tee program has promoted that. But golf, in general, to the youth, is really being promoted hard. And I love that, because I love seeing kids out there playing golf. I think it’s awesome.

Brian Lewis: I like it, too.

Speaker 3: And we need it for the game. We have to add this to sustain ourselves.

Brian Lewis: Absolutely. It’s my job. It’s what I love to do. We do what we can down at Pawleys. We host the Georgetown High School boys’ and girls’ golf teams. We were fortunate enough to have Jack Nicklaus actually on property back in October, and we had The First Tee of Coastal Carolinas there and Jack was out there with the kids to show them a few tips here and there.

Speaker 3: Good stuff. Well, Brian, remind everybody where they can book a time at Pawleys Plantation.

Brian Lewis: You can go to our website, pawleysplantation.com, or waccamawgolftrail.com. There are several great packages out there for you. You can book the Waccamaw Golf Trail Package. We have a package that includes food and drinks that you can pick from one of several good golf courses. There’s also our Rewards Package where you get $100 gift card that you can spend just about any way you want.

Speaker 1: Alright. Well, Brian, man, we appreciate you coming on with us in the morning. Have a great weekend. We’ll catch up with you soon.

Brian Lewis: Thanks for having me. Have a good weekend, everybody.

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