Story by Ian Guerin
Carolina Forest will probably never have the full tourism appeal of Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach or Pawleys Island.
The lack of direct contact with the Atlantic Ocean can have that effect.
But of all the space inside of South Carolina’s Grand Strand, the unincorporated area between Myrtle Beach and the county seat of Conway is the fastest growing and has shown its worth both financially and in terms of sustainability.
That goes for the golf, too.
Ten courses at six locations are all at least well into their second decade of operation. They’ve proved the quick drive west from the heart of Myrtle Beach more than worth it.
By most definitions, the Legends on-site trifecta falls just outside the Carolina Forest realm. But we’re not going to split hairs because of the long entryway off U.S. 501. (Carolina Forest has been fighting the municipality stigma for years, so Legends actually fits this category quite nicely.)
The Heathland, Moorland and Parkland courses at the main facility each have a style all their own. Heathland is British Isles; Moorland is a thought-provoking target course; Parkland is maybe the most “local” of the three, playing off the natural feel slightly more than the others.
More buried than any of the other courses on this list, Man O’ War is a brilliant combination of golf and water, with nearly every hole affected by it in one form or another. The 80-acre lake Dan Maples utilized stretches from one end of the property to the other, and players better believe that it lends a hand in softening the turf during even the driest portions of the year.
What we truly love about the grouping of the King’s North, SouthCreek and the West courses is that each of them have their own reason to bring players back. The Arnold Palmer-designed tracks were built in the early 1970s, making them the oldest in this category, and they pair two highly affordable options (West and SouthCreek) with a high-end choice (King’s North). All three are going to deliver more than their price tags would suggest.
Bear. Fox. Otter.
The relatively low-key names of the three nines at River Oaks on the eastern edge of Carolina Forest aren’t going raise expectations, necessarily. But one of the best values in Myrtle Beach golf will surprise plenty of folks who make their way here, be it for a full day at one site, a warm-up round or a few extra holes on a late-afternoon. River Oaks is now the only true 27-hole option in Carolina Forest.
Another Dan Maples project, the Wizard is in many ways a microcosm of Carolina Forest. The course, once dominated by hundreds of trees and other vegetation that gave the area its name, was altered to the tune of one and a half million cubic yards of earth being moved. What was left upon the course’s opening in 1996 was a berm-heavy surface that dips and dives for 18 creative holes.
Most players will never have the opportunity to face off against the biggest names in professional golf. But some of the courses they conquered have been replicated in piecemeal fashion at World Tour. Holes here are patterned off the likes of St. Andrews, Pinehurst, Augusta National and Royal Troon.