Story by Ian Guerin
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | The mid-July tradition of the Open Championship will have us tuning in to Carnoustie, Scotland as the world’s best try to tame the course Pádraig Harrington needed a playoff to win the last time it hosted the event. But be it that course or St. Andrews or Muirfield or Royal Birkdale or the other regular sites, their influence on the Grand Strand golf market can give players at least a sense of what the pros will be facing, as several local tracks were designed with those in mind. Here are a few of our favorites.
LEGENDS GOLF & RESORT, HEATHLAND COURSE
Very few courses in the area can boast the type of open play that happens at Heathland. Most of the holes are free of true divides between their neighbors, and errant shots are actually hard to lose. No, the Tom Doak, par-71 design isn’t going to swallow up your ball collection; but it can add some unfortunate numbers to the score cards if you’re forced to find your shot on the next fairway over. Of course, that all feeds off each other, too. Heathland is typically regarded as one of the windiest golf courses in and around Myrtle Beach. Keep that in mind as you walk to the tee box.
PRESTWICK COUNTRY CLUB
You can’t talk about Prestwick and not immediately think of how a bad-weather day could easily resemble a rainy Saturday during the Open. One of the area’s most contentious courses, Prestwick was designed by Pete and P.B. Dye to bring about a significant challenge. Extensive mounding adds an extra reward to well-struck shots while punishing the bad with a little more ferocity. Those who find themselves in the latter group then tend to get doubled up via ultra-competitive bunkering, specifically a large number of pots bunkers with heavily sloped front faces. Sound familiar?
SHAFTESBURY GLEN GOLF & FISH CLUB
Recent renovations and waste-area expansion defining some holes takes some of the “links” conversation out of the equation at Shaftesbury, but it would be impossible to fully negate what Clyde Johnston had in mind when he laid out this course for its 2001 opening. Beginning with an English manor club house and continuing through a number of holes that run parallel to each other with little to stop bad slices from finding a full tail, Shaftesbury still elicits that British touch with an open-farm feel.
THE WIZARD GOLF LINKS
Located in the Carolina Forest section of Horry County (just west of Myrtle Beach city limits), The Wizard is cut out of an area once completely covered by timber to lend itself to the airy conditions frequently wreaking havoc on the best of the best during the Open Championship. Dan Maples didn’t rest on that, alone. He inserted pot bunkers around the greens - as well as some other inopportune spots - and let the native grasses double up the mayhem associated with border mounding. It all quite slickly wraps around a Scottish-style clubhouse.
WORLD TOUR GOLF LINKS
Calling World Tour a true links-style course would not be accurate. After all, much of the 18 holes here were patterned off courses in New York or California and even Augusta National. However, three crucial parts of this replica track got their inspiration from the Isles. The Open 9 is bookended with the first and last holes at St. Andrews. Those two play side-by-side, and they’re the most visible holes from the clubhouse. Additionally, one of the most impressive par 3s in modern golf, No. 8 at Royal Troon, makes an appearance three holes into the Championship 9.