Opened in 1998 and located on the north end of the Grand Strand in Bolivia, N.C., Carolina National is the only Myrtle Beach area course designed by 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples. It is one of a handful of area facilities with 27 holes—the Egret, Heron and Ibis nines. All three birds after which those nines are named, as well as an awesome variety of local wildlife, can be found throughout the course, which winds its way through coastal forest and out onto expansive tidal marshland bordering the Lockwood River. Golf Digest gives the course 4 ½ out of 5 Stars on its “Places To Play” ranking.
Each of the nines plays to a par 36, with five par fours, two par fives and two par threes, making for a par-72 golf course no matter how which combination of nines one plays. Many visitors will play all three nines while on property, given the unique character and challenge of each. The signature hole at Carolina National is undoubtedly the par three 5th hole on the Heron nine. It measures 203 yards from the back tees and features a green complex that juts out into the marsh with commanding views of the Lockwood River. The tee boxes are arranged do that the hole can play from massively different angles, affording the opportunity for very different looks on consecutive plays. Given Carolina National’s robust membership, this is a welcome feature. A number of other holes include split fairways and centerline bunkers, which add considerable interest to the experience of playing a round.
The facilities at Carolina National are excellent, with a 320-yard long driving range, 14,000 square foot putting and chipping green and a spacious clubhouse housing an excellent dining room called the Plantation Grille. The Grille served members and guests alike seven days a week for lunch, as well as dinner on Tuesday and Friday nights.