Story by Ian Guerin
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | At Sam Snead’s Oak Grill & Tavern in the Carolina Forest section of Myrtle Beach, memorabilia from the former golf great’s career adorns the walls.
There are menu item’s bearing his name, and even a couple of alcoholic options worthy of the three-time Masters Tournament champion’s moniker. As the 2018 event approaches, Snead’s Tavern is a great start for those looking for a tie to what is happening in Augusta, Ga., just a few short hours away.
From Nicklaus to Palmer, Floyd to Watson, the faces that found glory at the Masters also helped turn South Carolina’s Grand Strand into the most travelled golf destination in the United States. Those players' legacies weren’t built here; but they certainly left their mark.
PAWLEYS PLANTATION GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB/LONG BAY GOLF CLUB
By the time players reach the back nine at Pawleys Plantation, they are already starting to keep an eye out for Jack’s Tree. By itself, it stands as a fairway obstacle in the middle of the 14th hole. However, it is also a marker for Nicklaus’ old house. Opened in 1988, the course is one of two designed by the six-time Masters champion.
The latest of those came in 1986, not long after he was contracted to turn the southern property into a local gem. Meanwhile, he was also hard at work at another site on the north end of the Strand. Long Bay opened its doors that same year. Both courses love to brag on their connection to the Golden Bear, and for good reason.
MYRTLE BEACH NATIONAL
Much like his good friend Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer’s biggest wins were still in the not-so-distant past when he was charged with laying out a three-course property that would become a major anchor for the area’s golf scene. Palmer - who won the Masters in 1958, 1962 and 1964 - put three relatively distinct options together. There is the prestigious King’s North, the short-game lover’s SouthCreek Course and a local’s favorite, the West Course.
They all opened in the two year window of 1972-1973, and a year after that, Palmer found himself elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
BLACKMOOR GOLF CLUB
Gary Player has always been tied to Nicklaus and Palmer; the Big Three changed the game forever in the 1960s and 1970s. Player continued that tradition when his Blackmoor design unleashed its tees for the first time in 1990.
Player, who won the Masters in 1961, 1974 and once more in 1978, put together 18 holes that - much like his game - forced players to think through every shot and avoid lapsing into cruise control with any one club.
ARROWHEAD COUNTRY CLUB
Along with Tom Jackson, 1976 Masters winner Raymond Floyd had a nice sliver of land to work with when he was hired to lay out Arrowhead in the mid-1990s. Located adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway, the 27-hole course is one a handful in the area to have holes playing into or parallel to the body of water.
Floyd’s victory in Augusta was the third-largest margin in Masters history, and it took 39 years for Jordan Spieth to break his 36-hole record of 131.
WORLD TOUR GOLF LINKS
This replica course, World Tour Golf Links, was patterned after the best holes in golf, and Augusta National is well represented. Here, Augusta’s famed Amen Corner is positioned on the Championship Course’s Nos. 4, 5 and 6.
It begins with a narrow fairway leading into the mounded approach on the par-4 No. 4. Then it’s on to the downhill-lying par 3, complete with a rendition of Hogan’s Bridge. The swing wraps up with the famously treacherous dogleg par 5.
DUNES GOLF & BEACH CLUB
The Dunes Club has been so well documented for decades that locals tend to forget that Augusta National has a strong connection here, as well. Original designer Robert Trent Jones designed Myrtle Beach’s second course in the mid 1940s, and despite some touch ups along the way, his mark stands today, 90 years after first opening as a nine-hole course. Jones’ influence at the Masters includes his redesign of the Nos. 11 and 16 holes there, something he did in the middle of the 20th century after a request from Bobby Jones right around the time Dunes was laying its foundation.
TPC OF MYRTLE BEACH
In 2000, Tom Watson forever etched his name into the local history books when he won the Senior PGA Tour Championship at TPC Myrtle Beach. The Kansas City native proved he still had some pop in the bag into his 50s and all the while helped the initial boost from then-newer course’s first year of operation.
Having a two-time Master’s champion (1977, 1981) win the event was the icing on the cake for the Tom Fazio design, considered to be among the elite playing options the Myrtle Beach area has to offer.
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