CALABASH, NC – On No. 18 I traveled through two states, hit 4 decent shots and 2 putted for a bogey 7! You read it correctly; the finishing hole at Farmstead Golf Links is an unusual Par 6. The uniqueness of one hole should not be misleading. There are no gimmicks here, just a really fine golf course.

From the Black and Blue sets of tees you’ll find a need for length on this Par 72 layout. The Black tees at 7242 yards are rated 74.5/135, while the Blue tees are a challenging 6566 yards rated at 71.8/128. White tees measure 6097 yards with a rating of 69.1/123. Gold tees are 5638 yards and 67.0/118. Red tees are 4998 yards and rated at 68.4/118. Regardless of your level of play there’s an enjoyable length to fit your game.

The course is not a true links course, but does share many of the characteristics. There are numerous mounds that border fairly wide fairways. Sea Oats waffle in the breeze and an occasional stream crosses the fairway. Many greens are protected by sand hazards, but only with the most devilish pin placements do you need difficult carries to get home. Water hazards only come into play catching the most wayward shots. Willard Byrd and Dave Johnson, the course’s architects, collaborated on a challenging, but aesthetically pleasing venue.

The greens are generous and in outstanding condition. Slight undulation contributes to a putting challenge. You must putt well to even begin thinking of scoring your handicap on Farmstead. Front pin positions seemed particularly tough.

Playing from the Blue tees on a windy day was a real challenge for my “distance challenged” skill level. I settled into approaching many of the Par 4s as three shot holes. The fairways are generous, but with an abundance of doglegs driving accuracy is a must. Being on the wrong side of the dogleg adds distance to an already long hole. Being in the rough is penal. The Par 4s really bring out the character of this course.

Case in point is the No. 1 Handicap 2nd hole. A strong dogleg right teases the long hitters to clear the waste bunker and run the drive down the right side. Good play, but only if you don’t leak right. Even with a good drive the second shot to this 419-yard challenge requires some length. A small stream traverses the fairway between 75 and 100 yards from the center of the green.

Due to the Par 6 finishing hole, there are five Par 3s with three on the backside. The 228-yard No. 15 is obviously long, but is also protected by a large sand trap in the right front. Do not fret about a back pin position. Even if you hit the green it’s difficult to hold the slight away slope. On the front nine No. 3 at 178-yards is a really good Par 3 and deserves the 7-handicap. Mounds, sand hazards and a putting surface with undulation make par a very good score. Errant off the tee and double bogey comes into play.

With the possible exception of No. 18, the Par 5s present an opportunity to score par or better. Each is pretty straightforward. Although a tree sits in the middle of No. 9s fairway and may intimidate a tee shot, getting home in regulation is possible even without great distance. Par here can top off your front nine. Take advantage of all the Par 5s, if you want to score well. A bogey, even on No. 18 is like giving strokes away.

If you enjoy a great golf course, you’re going to enjoy a round at Farmstead Golf Links in your Myrtle Beach golf pacakge.