Story by Ian Guerin
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | The right course designer can pull off a great layout without much help from the surrounding property. Those who have a beautiful palette to deal with beforehand, though, can do something truly beautiful. In and around South Carolina’s northern coastline, several golfing options have players doing their thing amid a natural habitat that was already stunning. It adds to the overall experience, and these five are some of our favorites.
ARROWHEAD COUNTRY CLUB
The great thing about Arrowhead is the knowledge of what the land it used to be looked like. In this case, much of the Forestbrook section of Myrtle Beach was little more than towering pines and small off-shoots from the nearby Intracoastal Waterway. So when the land started to be developed in the 1980s and 1990s for some housing and the course, designers Raymond Floyds and Tom Jackson kept as much of that as possible.
CALEDONIA GOLF & FISH CLUB
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all know by now that Caledonia is a unanimous top-100 track. But part of what makes the course so darn special is the tree-lined entryway (featuring some 150-year-old oaks and their hanging moss), plenty more around the course and the oversized pond and its surrounding marsh. If you covered up the golf aspects of Caledonia, people would still just come to hang out in what would amount to a visually awesome park.
PAWLEYS PLANTATION GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB
This is one of those courses where it pays to take a look at some of the aerial photographs prior to arriving at the course. In many ways, the hole-to-hole views are so impressive that players can get turned around to the point that they forget which way the ocean is. Heavy marsh views, oft-overwhelming tree lines and swirling breezes are prevalent, and it adds to the difficulty rating at the Jack Nicklaus design.
WILD WING PLANTATION
When the three other courses here were shuttered and the Avocet course was chosen to carry the Wild Wing banner into the future in the 2000s, it had as much to do with the environment as it did Larry Nelson’s layout. Avocet (and to a degree, the Hummingbird Nine) is surrounded by wildlife, both on the ground and in the air, while being crafted around natural and slight elevation changes to warrant an extra look while playing all 18 holes consecutively without a mid-point break.
Located along the east bank of the Waccamaw River, the Dan Maples design at Willbrook took that into account in terms of irrigation, shaping the land and also preserving what was already there. Cut out of the environment that once housed two working plantations and was long used as a hunting preserve, the former rice-rich property is a boon for animal life taking advantage of plenty of nearby water and some thick tree lines.