Story By Ian Guerin
When some of the biggest names in professional golf began venturing into course design, owners had high hopes of where those side projects would lead.
It’s safe to say that Myrtle Beach’s golf scene has not only had a significant role in leading that charge, but also that those men whose names we know are permanently attached to some of the area’s most notable tracks. Roughly one in nine courses along South Carolina’s Grand Strand were designed by someone who won multiple PGA Tour majors and who has already been elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
When “The King” passed away in 2016, his death was felt throughout Myrtle Beach. His permanent connection to the locale began in 1972, when his first three courses - the trio that would become the King’s North, SouthCreek and West courses at Myrtle Beach National - were built and created a centralized location to publicize and promote the area’s golfing landscape. He returned in 1996, when a touched up King’s North re-established itself as one of the top-flight local courses. Not long after, Palmer (who won seven majors and 62 PGA events and was named to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974) designed the Rivers Edge course just across the border in North Carolina.
The guy who has won more majors (18) than anyone to ever pick up a club wasn’t going to take it easy on those who set foot on his courses. At both Long Bay Golf Club in Longs and Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club in Pawleys Island, the 1988 openings presents visitors with some challenges befit of (like Palmer) one of the members of the first full Wold Golf Hall of Fame class.
It didn’t take nine major victories, 24 total PGA Tour wins or more than 150 top finishes overall for fans to take notice of Player’s skill set on the course. Abilities with every club, with a seeming mastery of each, came to life at his only local design, Blackmoor Golf Club (opened 1990) in Murrells Inlet. Being solid off the tee is important; being better than average with every other stick will add to success here.
The next wave of big-name players turned designers created another wave of Myrtle Beach courses in this category, beginning with Ray Floyd’s combined effort with Tom Jackson at Arrowhead Country Club. While Jackson’s name is attached to a handful of others locally, this is the solo appearance for Floyd, who won four majors and 22 PGA Tour tournaments before joining the Hall of Fame in 1989 - six years prior to Arrowhead’s opening. The 27-hole property features multiple shots along or within eyesight of the Intracoastal Waterway.
GREG NORMAN/DAVIS LOVE
Norman and Love served as one half of the design group who were each given a swath of land to make something special happen at Barefoot Resort and Golf in the late 1990s. Then, in 2000, the Norman and Love Courses (along with Fazio and Dye Club) opened to rave reviews and haven’t let up. Norman was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame the following year, and Love will join him in September of 2017.