Story by Ian Guerin
PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. | When Eric Glosick accepted a promotion to join the staff at Founders Club of Pawleys Island in June of 2017, he was taking on a role at a location that doesn’t always get the benefit of the doubt.
Glosick and Founders Club believe latitude hasn’t - and won’t - do much but slightly inhibit the golf course’s place in the market.
Although it is part of the 11-course conglomerate of tracks located between Myrtle Beach and Georgetown known as the Waccamaw Golf Trail, Founders is the furthest south. It is beyond even most of Pawleys Island’s main rental properties and full-time neighborhoods, meaning it is almost entirely a course where folks aren’t usually stumbling onto the grounds. Still, nine years after its re-opening following a full-scale overhaul and name change, Founders isn’t falling off the map.
“I don’t see us going anywhere,” Glosick said. “We have enough of a niche with our membership and our local players. The people who play it absolutely love the golf course.
“Some people may come once and not like it because it beat them up a little bit. Then they come back again with a little bit different game plan and enjoy it a little more. We have all that sand. People can see how fun it is. They like the challenge.”
Indeed, that sand is the first, second and third priority for players here.
Originally a Gene Hamm design that opened in 1966 as the Sea Gull Golf Club, the course closed its tee boxes in 2006 and re-opened two years later following architect Thomas Walker’s crack at it. Walker put the existing sand and more to work, laying out 18 new holes where not only traps, but massive waste a catch bunkers are in play more often than not.
The cart paths are primarily the same surface, so even when all that sand isn’t directly in play, it is clearly in view.
“The amount of bunkers, the sand is what’s going to stand out in most people’s minds,” Glosick said. “I’ve played all the courses on the south end. They’re all great golf courses. The one thing I really enjoy here is you have to be in the fairways.”
Those who subscribe to that method, or at least those who can execute it, can get through Founders relatively unscathed. Players who struggle off the tee or try to do too much will notice the difference time and again, especially given the elevation changes between many of the tees and greens.
The back nine pops in the that regard, from the undulated fairway on the 542-yard par 5 at No. 10 to the split-fairway 12th, the last par 5 of the round, all the way through No. 18. It is there that the spectacular finisher forces players to either lay up on the second shot or take a chance at carrying a pond and its sloped face approaching the green overlooked by the white clubhouse and its back deck.
“It’s a fantastic golf course,” Glosick said. “It’s different from just about any style you’re going to find in Myrtle Beach.”