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  4. Azalea Sands

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC – If you’ve visited the Myrtle Beach area during the past 38-years, you’ve probably driven past Azalea Sands Golf Club. Located on Highway 17 in North Myrtle Beach just ½-mile from the beach, this Gene Hamm design has been welcoming golfers since 1972.

A traditional “beach course” Azalea Sands is playable for any level golfer. The designer’s intent was to present a fair test of golf, while not beating up the player who simply wants to enjoy a pleasant outing. Although water and sand hazards do come into play, long forced carries are non-existent. From the Blue Tees the course is 6902 yards and rated 72.5/123. The White Tees present 6287 yards at 69.5/116. The Gold Tees are 5858 yards and the Red Tees are 5148 yards and rated 70.2/119.

In 2009 the Signature Golf Group acquired Azalea Sands and began renovations intended to provide the golfer a pleasant, memorable experience. Trees that hindered the sun’s rays from reaching fairways were removed. Considerable attention was given to the condition of the course from tee boxes and fairways to sand hazards and greens. Although there’s more to do, Signature is off to a good start. A complete re-paving of the cart paths is the next undertaking.

In true traditional course fashion the yardage indicators are displayed with colored stakes along the fairway and flags on the greens. If you’re game is so well defined that you need exact yardage Azalea Sands will be a challenge. Remember, the course is located at sea level and some greens are just slightly elevated. The course is best played visually. The day we played was overcast, humid and very wet from the previous evenings rain. Clubbing-up by as many as two or three clubs became the measure of the day.

Although there are no residential units lining the fairways, there are numerous parallel holes divided by groves of trees. The course has a very efficient layout and welcomes a rapid round of golf. Our cart path only round on a wet, busy day took just less than 4-hours. If your golf trip is all about playing 36-holes, Azalea Sands is a good afternoon addition.

In addition to being an efficient layout the course is also a balanced layout. A case in point is the Par 3s. Two relatively straightforward Par 3s on the front nine are followed by long, sand hazard protected holes on the back nine.

Likewise the Par 5s on the front nine are neither particularly long, nor particularly penal. However, on the back nine well place water hazards across the fairway make shot selection and a lay-up the right choice.

It’s the Par 4s that seem to give Azalea Sands its character. No two holes appear to be the same and each is quite playable. Minimal hazards come into play and are only penal to the very errant shots. Water hazards do creep into the fairways on several holes, but will not affect your drive. With the exception of No. 7 most water hazards are easily cleared on your approach shot. A little better marking on the water hazards would be appreciated.

The clubhouse is well stocked with logo merchandise and like the course itself is reasonably priced. The snack bar is large with all your favorite on-course foods and beverages. Although Azalea Sands lacks a driving range, a large putting green can accommodate your group.

A fair golf course at a fair price is always a sure formula for a good day of golf.