#13 at Pawleys Plantation: Shortest par 5 in America

    My son and I are playing today in the Pawleys Plantation Independence Day scramble.  Pawleys Island, SC, is where our family hunkers down for a good part of the summer.  Tim and I haven't met the couple we have been matched with but look forward to making their acquaintance, having an enjoyable round and, perhaps, hearing our names called during the late afternoon awards ceremony (check back here later for results, if you are interested).
    One hole on our Jack Nicklaus designed marshland course, which opened in 1989, may determine who

The hole is so odd that, over 60 rounds, I have had more birdies than bogies...and more double bogies than pars.

wins.  The 13th is an island green par 3 with tee boxes along a dike that once served to control the water flow to the site's former rice plantation.  The ocean is straight ahead across the marsh, about ¾ of a mile as the pelican flies.  Typical wind conditions can range from strongly in your face to strongly right to left (toward the marsh on the left) to, occasionally, downwind if a front is moving in from the west.  Downwind is the worst condition since the green is tiny and firm and there is little chance to impart the needed spin to keep the ball from bounding off the back.  I prefer wind in the face to give the ball a little lift and exaggerate the spin.
    Because it is a scramble (Captain's Choice) tournament today, we will play from the white tees, the second shortest; the female member of our team will play from the shorter reds, just 45 yards or so.  The white tees on #13 are a ridiculous 69 yards out (the blue tees are just 115 yards and the back tees 145).  If the tide is out when we come through the 13th around 3:30 p.m., the short but intimidating shot will be even more intimidating for all the golf balls we will see below stuck in the muck.  Once we get to the green, we will see a like amount of balls in the marsh beyond.  When you land on the back third of the surface, typically the most you can hope for is a roll into the narrow strip of rough (like 18-inches narrow) that grows between green and rear bulkhead.  But because the surface is firm -- we haven't had more than a thimble of rain the last week -- most shots that land beyond mid-point of the green bound off the back and over the bulkhead. 
     Yesterday, in talking about today's scramble, one of my neighbors described #13 as a "67-yard par 5."  I have probably played the hole 60 times over the last 10 years, from the 115 yard tees, and I do not believe I have had a bogey four on the hole more than a couple of times, fewer than I have made birdie actually.  The chip from the drop area, although entirely over dry land, is a long, curling affair sideways to a green that slopes back to front.  If the pin is at back, it takes the deftest of shots to keep the ball along the ridge that leads to it; count on a 10-foot or longer uphill putt for bogey.  If the pin is middle or front, you must play the ridgeline to get it down to the hole, a delicate proposition.  If you concentrate on line and not on distance, it is easy to leave the chip 25 feet short or, worse, hit it off the other end of the green and into the marsh.  Because the green is small, three-putts are rare for the decent player.  If you are on in one, par (or better) is pretty much assured.  Bogey is a rare score on the hole; you either make 3 or 5.
    I haven't kept all my scorecards over the years, but I am sure I am well over par at #13, which makes it about the shortest par 5 in America.  With four shots at the green in the scramble today, maybe one of us can keep our tee shot on terra firma and give the group four putts at a birdie.  I will report back here later tonight.


Today, we will play the 13th at Pawleys Plantation from just 69 yards (this shot from the back of the tiny green).  Given a choice, a full swing with a pitching wedge from, say, 115 yards, is much easier than a flip sand wedge from 69 yards.  If the wind is blowing, both shots are problematical, but at least we will have four shots at it today in our scramble format.

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