Part 4: Jim Huntoon - Golf Superintendent at Heritage Club

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In December 2018, the Golf Shop Radio Show aired its interview with Jim Huntoon of Heritage Club in Pawleys Island, S.C., one of 12 award-winning courses that are part of the Hammock Coast Golf Trail. Below is a transcript of that interview.

Speaker 1: We’re going to talk a little Heritage Club down on the Waccamaw Trail, Jim Huntoon joins us. Jim, welcome into The Golf Shop!

Jim: Thank you for having me. Glad to be here.

Speaker 3: Thank you, Jim.

Speaker 1: Yeah, so we’re focusing on a course every week on the Waccamaw Trail and this week is the Heritage Club, Pawleys Island. Give us a little feel for what this golf course is all about if listeners have not experienced it yet.

Jim: The first word that comes to mind is history. You know it’s built on a couple former rice plantations. We have a couple of preserved cemeteries out there. A lot of old trees, and it’s just got a real, old feel like that.

Speaker 1: Nice. So, I mean, are we tree-lined, do we have a lot of bunkering, do we have water, do we have a nice balance between all three of these? I’m looking at some pictures right now and there looks like there’s a little bit of the wet stuff that comes into play once in a while.

Jim: There is, absolutely. On the front nine we have several holes that are laid out along the fresh water marshes of the Waccamaw River. The back nine has a 25-acre lake that three or four holes are routed around. Plenty of bunkers. Not excessive, but the ones that are there are steep and deep. So you need to stay out of those.

I’d say one of the most unique characteristics of the golf course itself is the large greens and the undulations in the greens. They’re very challenging.

Speaker 3: You know, Jim, I’m looking at the Heritage pictures, too. I see that this is a Dan Maples design, has there been any work done since Maples designed it? Have you all updated it or is it still as it was when he built it?

Jim: You know Mike Strantz, who was the architect at Caledonia and True Blue, was involved in a renovation there during the time they were building Caledonia. So he’s got his fingerprints on it. Other than that, there’s not been any kind of major stuff. Just a lot of small-type stuff that every golf course goes through. I know over the last 10 years or so we’ve made an effort to build a lot of new tees to kind of accommodate more levels of golfers, which I think has been good.

But other than that mid-90s thing where they redid the greens and reshaped some of the greens, that’s been the only renovation of any kind of major sort.

Speaker 1: Yeah I mean five sets of tees. 5,201 to 7,118 yards. So you can take as big a big a bite as you want on this. What’s kind of a comfortable yardage for, you know, the people that play down there? I mean the average golfer, what’s a comfortable yardage for them at this golf course, considering you know all the hazards and things that come into play?

Jim: Yeah, it’s par 71 as well. There are only three par fives. So I would say, you know, we’ve got five sets of tees. And most people play our green tees at about 5,600 or our white tees at about 6,200.

Speaker 1: Nice. Nice. You know, I mean, how difficult does it get up at 7,100 yards? I mean, is this a big test?

Jim: Yeah. You know we’ve got, our blue tees are about 6,670, almost 6,700 yards, and if you can’t break par three out of 10 rounds you have no business on the back tees. I would say less than one tenth of our percentage of our players play back there.

Speaker 3: Yeah, Jim, I was gonna ask you, what percentage of players even go back there, you know, based on what you see out the window every day?

Jim: Very, very few. A couple of our assistant pro or pro shop staff and, you know, local professionals, but even for them, like I said those blue tees are plenty of challenge for most anyone.

Speaker 1: Alright, so I always ask this of anybody that we have coming on talking about a particular golf course: what is your favorite hole on this golf course? The second part of the question is, when you’re out there playing, it seems like everybody has that one shot that you’re kind of dreading getting to. What shot is that on this golf course?

Jim: Your first question, my favorite hole is Number Two. It’s a par five. It’s actually got a split fairway down the second half of the hole where you have to negotiate a lake and a little cypress swamp. It’s a great hole because it gives a lot of options off the tee, and for your second and third shots. I love strategic golf holes, and that’s definitely one of them.

The shot everybody thinks about at Heritage is at Number 13. It’s a long par three. A little water.

Speaker 3: It’s all carry isn’t it, Jim? The whole thing’s carry.

Jim: It’s all carry. Yeah, it’s all carry, and you know it sits out on that lake and it’s a tough shot and the winds really play havoc out there. You’ve really got to know which direction that wind is coming, and you know the green is very large so your front pin to your back pin can be as much as 40 yards difference. So you’ve really got to calculate the conditions, pick a shot and then hit it.

Speaker 3: What kind of grass do you have on the greens down there, Jim?

Jim: We have Champion Bermuda. Installed in 2007.

Speaker 3: Good stuff. How are they putting now? I mean, I know they’re perfect.

Jim: Yeah, they are. They’re doing well. You know we’ve been fortunate that we’ve been able to keep our level of conditioning pretty consistent.

Speaker 1: Yeah, so you know, here’s the other thing, too. I’m looking at estimated tee time rates for today out on the site. I can get a noon tee time for around $55. I mean, how are the rates running this time of year, and what’s the availability?

Jim: You know, December in my opinion is one of the most underrated months to play golf in the Myrtle Beach area or on the Waccamaw Trail. You know it’s not busy, and you know I think winter weather in December is a little bit more predictable than other winter months. And the golf courses are in really good shape, including Heritage right now. You know you could get out there today and really enjoy yourself. There’s no doubt about it.

Speaker 1: Yeah so let everybody know how they can book a tee time or if they want to book a package to head down there maybe next weekend or something like that to take advantage of some weather, let everybody know how to do that.

Jim: They can do it through the Golf Shop here at Heritage. They can do it through our reservations at the Legends. They can do it through the Hammock Coast Golf Trail, I’m sure, or any other package provider or anybody who’s involved with Myrtle Beach golf who’s tied in with us.

Speaker 3: It’s a popular venue down there. 65,000 rounds last year, Jim? That’s amazing.

Jim: It’s very popular. You know I think it’s a good golf course. It’s just a very beautiful place, like I said earlier. You know the trees, the ambiance, the wildlife. You know we’re known for being one of the best gator-viewing courses at the beach. There’s a very nice community and residential component to the golf course that’s very nice. So it’s just a nice place to come hang out for a while.

Speaker 1: Well, Jim, we appreciate you coming on with us this morning. We love talking to you guys down there. It seems like every time we talk about a golf course, you know, they’re not cookie cutter golf courses, they’re all a little bit different. They all bring something else to the table, and it’s a nice experience to go down there and mix it up you play two, three, four, five of them, isn’t it?

Jim: It is. You know Pawleys Island and you know Murrells Inlet the whole Waccamaw Neck/Waccamaw Trail area is great place to vacation. People have been doing it since the 1700s, you know. So they knew it was good then and it still is today.

Speaker 1: All right, my man. Have a great Christmas down there, and we look forward to talking to you all a little bit more down here on the Waccamaw Trail.

Jim: Thank you, and I appreciate you letting me come on to talk about Heritage Club.

Speaker 3: Thank you so much, Jim.

Speaker 1: Thanks a lot.

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