SUNSET BEACH, NC  – Considered one of Dan Maples best, the architect has served up a traditional style golf course. Opened in 1986 the Maples course will celebrate its 25thanniversary in 2011.

With fairways lined by Carolina pines and native oaks this masterpiece is quite attractive. Do not be tricked though, you’ll need to put on your hard hat and carry a lunch pail. There’s work to be done.

On the scorecard the Maples appears to be fairly long. The Blue Tees measure 6797 yards, the White Tees 6330 yards, the Gold Tees 6035 yards and the Red Tees come in at 5110 yards. Course/Slope Ratings show the Blues at 71.5/134, the Whites at 69.3/126, the Golds at 67.6/116 and the Reds at 68.6/117.
Upon closer examination it’s evident that the par 5s and par 3s contribute significantly to the course length. Although not benign by any stretch of the imagination, the Par 4s are quite reasonable. Only holes No. 8, 9 and 10 will confront those of us that are distance challenged.

Well-placed shots are extremely important on any golf round, but particularly so when thick rough borders fairways. Both fairways and rough were in great condition, but the latter did prove difficult when our drives went astray.

The A1/A4 blended Bent grass greens were in very good condition. Although vertical cut just a few weeks ago, they held approach shots and putted true. Here’s a little local knowledge. Remember where the Atlantic Ocean is located, especially on No. 5.

The Par 3s on the Maples course are particularly interesting. On No. 2 you’ll probably wonder why they put that tree between the tee box and green. Of course the water to the right really does not come into play. The waste area that surrounds the tree does. No. 17 looks harmless enough, but do not push your tee shot. The tree that sits just past the Red Tees does come into play.

No. 7 is a particularly interesting Par 4. A drive to the center of a tree-lined fairway is a must. Your second shot needs to carry water to a large tiered green protected on left/center by a sand hazard. A back/left pin position just adds to the fun. No. 18 is simply a very nice, but challenging finishing hole. A drive that finds one of the narrower fairways is absolutely necessary. Four large sand hazards protect the front of the green and require a blind carry to a slightly elevated surface.

You cannot help but like No. 4, a Par 5 that’s straight away, although slightly narrow. A fairway trap catches a pulled drive and a pair of traps may catch an overly aggressive second shot. However, two well-struck shots should put you in position for a fairly short iron and possible birdie. No. 15 has a similar feel, but with the addition of a waste bunker that protects the first 450 yards of the fairway. Again, well placed shots and a good putt will yield results.

It may be a little old school with tree-lined fairways, but hitting off some pine straw once in a while is good for you. Enjoy your day with Dan Maples. We certainly did!