For experienced golfers looking for a fun challenge and perhaps even a little humility when the ocean wind is blowing, PGA of America professional and Wild Dunes’ Director of Golf, Jeff Minton, recommends the Links Course. Definitely the more technical of the two courses, “the Links was the first course that Tom Fazio ever designed solo, which makes it pretty cool,” says Minton, and according to the website BlueGolf, it remains among Fazio’s favorites. With lush fairways, fast greens, and elevation from the Resort’s eponymous old dunes, to the “fan favorite” ocean-view holes at #16, #17, and #18, the Links Course is a visual delight and athletic obstacle.
“If you want the most challenge, play from the longest tees,” advices Minton, which would give you 6,722 yards of golf (the course rating is 72.7 with a slope rating of 131). Regardless, the ocean wind will give players a run for their money.
“Wind is the hardest challenge for any golfer. It could be blowing one direction one day and another direction the next, so the course plays totally different on any given day,” Minton says. When you get to hole #17, “you want a drive that challenges the dune, but be satisfied with any drive that lands in the fairway,” he adds. And for Wild Dunes’ signature hole #18, “an accurate second shot can lead to a birdie putt,” he hints. But beware, “trouble lurks on the Links’ largest green.”
As for the Harbor Course, its challenging design is as renowned as its beautiful views, but most of all, it’s known for the water. From lagoons and salt marshes to the Intracoastal Waterway, this varied golf course is a great challenge to test all aspects of any golfer’s game – if you can conquer the Harbor Course, other greens may just become a bit easier.
Beyond Just Beginner-Friendly
Wild Dunes is fully staffed to meet any golfer’s instructional needs, from introducing the novice to golf’s putts and drives, or honing the nuances of the more seasoned golfer’s swing. In addition to Minton, the golf Resort has a head professional, a teaching pro, and three assistant pros on each course, all PGA certified, and available for lessons.
“We offer a full array of lessons for all levels, year-round, but for the true beginner, I recommend at least two or three private lessons so you can get comfortable with the basics, like knowing which clubs to use when. Golf isn’t one of those games that you can just go right and start playing,” Minton says.
Another wise word for the beginning golfer: “Choose a late afternoon tee time,” Minton suggest. “There’s typically less traffic then, so if you want to go out by yourself or for a twosome with your spouse, it’s easier to navigate, and you can take your time practicing.” And practice is key, he adds. Most beginners should get a few lessons under their belts, hit the driving range, but then “practice a few days before your next lesson, or go practice wherever you live. You need to practice to get that muscle memory,” he says.
A Culture for Connecting
At the end of the day, though, Minton is most proud of the community of golfers who come to the Wild Dunes Resort courses each and every day, be it solo or with large groups, to learn, improve, compete, and most of all, to enjoy the beautiful greens, friendly faces, sunny skies, and blue waters surrounding them.
By Stephanie Hunt
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