Story by Ian Guerin
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | When a high-profile fitting and instructional facility opened at the Grande Dunes Resort Club in April of 2017, it added to the location’s already impressive stature along the golf-dominant northern coastline of South Carolina.
The Grande Dunes Performance Center is an elite tool for those hoping to expand their game, using technology so rarely seen outside of the professional ranks.
There’s little question this is the perfect course to execute the idea. Grande Dunes, simply, is among the best playing options in and around Myrtle Beach.
Its 18 holes, which once garnered the top honor from the National Golf Course Owners Association, have continued to inspire awe while combining intangibles so many overlook.
“We are always in great shape. Our superintendent, Brett Whitson, and his maintenance staff do a phenomenal job. That’s one thing that separates us from the competition,” head golf professional Dustin powers said. “Our customer service is second to none; we just hired a new executive chef, Eddie Brygier, and a new food and beverage manager in Mary Jo Quinn. These additions have helped us take our food and beverage operation to the next level.”
Those extra touches - from the Performance Center to free fruit and flavored water in the pro shop - can’t be overstated, to be sure. But in reality, they would likely be forgotten if attached to an underwhelming course. That is most definitely not the case at Grande Dunes.
Opened in 2001 and designed by the Roger Rulewich Group (known nationwide for his work on the famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama), the course pairs immaculate playing surfaces with the bluffs overlooking the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Holes on both nines play parallel or perpendicular to it. That includes the swing through Nos. 9-10. Stunning visuals are present of the four-diamond resort, Marina Inn, and its accompanying Grande Dunes Marina, where some of the nicest boats to dock in the area latch on for a few hours or park permanently.
From U.S. 17, drivers heading either north or south see it in reverse.
“I believe that the views of Nos. 9 and 10, with the marina along with the bridge, are a huge asset to us and help expose all that we have to offer for the passersby,” Powers said. “It also generates some curiosity as to what else the property might have in store if that’s the first impression from afar.”
Those who do more than only drive by are treated to the complete experience with several holes adding more and more reason for players to return. Arguably tops on that list is the spectacular par 3 at No. 14, named in the Spring as one of the best 18 holes in Myrtle Beach by the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel. The highest of the Grande Dunes’ bluffs take players from the tee box, across a small pond feeding back into the Waterway and down to an oversized green. In the background is one of the many high-dollar homes making the overall property’s value that much clearer.
But as a first-time player recently discovered, Grande Dunes doesn't bank on just one hole or one aspect of the game.
“Everything about it stands out - the houses around it, the area, the part of Myrtle Beach it’s in,” local attorney Seth Oskin said after his initial visit to Grande Dunes. “It was a beautiful course. It was well-kept. The greens were good. I thought the hospitality was good. The name ‘Resort Club’ was perfect. It felt like a little mini-vacation. And I’m from here, so that’s a pretty good compliment.”