CALABASH, NC – This was my second visit to The Pearl having had the pleasure of playing the East Course in April 2010. I wasn’t disappointed then and I wasn’t disappointed now.

As you might have gathered The Pearl has two distinct 18-hole tracts. The East Course is a traditional tree lined venue, while The West Course is in the style of a links course. Dan Maples designed both courses. It’s a testimony to his creativity being able to visualize two distinctly different layouts, while utilizing what nature has provided.

Let me say upfront that I rate both courses highly. For players that want to wear-out the grips getting 36-holes in a single day, The Pearl is ideal. Quality courses and a nice restaurant/lounge make for a great day.

The Pearl West Course is a handful. From the White Tees it measures 6322 yards and is rated at 70.5/122 with Par set at 72. Although challenging and demands you be on top of your game, it’s also very visually appealing.

The course definitely gets a great deal of its length from the Par 5s. In fact there are 5 of them, two on the front and three on the back. Each exceeds 500-yards with No. 16, the Number 2 handicap hole, a rather large 552 yards. For the average mid-handicap golfer the Par 5s are all three shot holes.

With that said No. 18 can be reached in two with an absolutely perfect drive and a solid approach shot that will need to carry considerable water. I was very lucky with a drive that found the perfect roll and a trouble three wood that hit dead center of the green before rolling to the fringe. Caution is in order. Be absolutely certain to be below the hole. I wasn’t and promptly three putted a fast green with a huge break. Never before was I so disappointed with a par.

With five Par 5s that means there are five Par 3s, three on the front and two on the back. Each Par 3 is interesting and quite different. Nos. 2 and 9 do have some length, while the remaining holes require accurate mid -to-low irons. Although partial to all the Par 3s, I particularly liked No. 17.

It was a seemingly benign short hole without any hazards, or forced carries. A willow tree near the tee made a right hole location difficult and a large tree and landscaped area to the left did intrude on your vision. I hit a decent tee shot to the left front fringe. What looked like a very good chip simply rolled away from the pin and left a tough two putt.
That in a nutshell is the West Course. Remember no matter how well you’re striking the ball, there’s a tough bent grass green waiting at the end of every hole.

The Par 4s are a delight, as each is quite different. Again, there are no forced carries and the hazards are visible, but do come into play. Like all golf holes an accurate drive is necessary, but than the work begins. No. 11 is a great example of what this course can give and than take away. A short downhill hole almost every well struck tee ball that hits the fairway will have a very short iron to the green.

Here’s where the thinking begins. Do you want to play a little links golf and run your approach, or stop a wedge on the back ledge, if that’s your pin position? Not being the coldest beer in the fridge, I went right for the pin with a 56-degree wedge. One hop and my ball immediately dropped off the steep back towards a wetlands area. A tough chip and two putts on an undulating green and I walked away with a hard bogey. A little bit of thinking and maybe par, or better would have been on my scorecard.

Honestly, I played poorly and made to many swing and mental mistakes. The West Course has a way of reminding you of your errors. One thing’s for sure though – I really liked this golf course. In fact I really like both courses at The Pearl. As mentioned before if you want to wear out the grips and really love golf, 36-holes and lunch at The Pearl is a great way to spend the day. I’ll be making my tee times, soon.