Story by Ian Guerin
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | Even us locals fall into the trap, referring to any golf course up and down South Carolina’s 60-mile-long Grand Strand as a part of “Myrtle Beach”.
And while many courses use that locale in their address, only six courses fall within the actual city limits. These courses, four of which were built prior to 1972, alone offer a range both in style and feel that would provide a worthy week of golf.
As such, they are in many ways the anchor of a broader golfing mecca that offers 90 or so different options.
DUNES GOLF & BEACH CLUB
Myrtle Beach’s second course to open decided one member of the Jones family tree wasn’t enough, so it added another that only bolstered its high marks from locals and outsiders. Initially a Robert Trent Jones design upon its first nine holes opening in 1948 (and additional nine completed shortly after), Dunes Club brought in Rees Jones in 2013 to touch up the playing surface and extend its already impressive distance. Without exaggeration, it kept Dunes as a pure powerhouse in the market and beyond as a facility nearly unmatched by the majority of its competitors.
GRANDE DUNES RESORT CLUB
Part of the latest wave of construction in the Myrtle Beach golf scene, Grande Dunes Resort Club opened in 2001 to rave reviews for its combination of beauty, distance, playability and its place adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway. With several holes overlooking the bluffs, Grande Dunes Resort Club feels as physically elevated as its place among the best courses South Carolina has to offer. It was named a top-10 national new design by Golf Digest after its first full year, the top honor from the National Golf Course Owners Association in 2009 and scores of other since.
PINE LAKES COUNTRY CLUB
Celebrating 90 years of existence in 2017, Pine Lakes was the first course in the area, and its longevity has earned it a proper nickname: “The Granddaddy.” Players have been treated to a crisp layout during those nine decades, including a 2009 redesign that brought the course back to much of Robert White’s original architecture that was available back when the property was known as the Ocean Forest Country Club and Golf Course. Pine Lakes announced a further return to those roots for late 2017, when knickers, kilts, tams and other old-school garb were brought back into the fold.
PINEHILLS COURSE AT MYRTLEWOOD GOLF
Another local option that received a boost from a redesign, Arthur Hills’ work in 1993 invigorated this course and returned it to the forefront of players’ minds following its inaugural campaign in 1966. PineHills took its centralized location off U.S. 17 and added a choosy playability affected by doglegs on seven of the 18 holes, in-play fairway bunkering around the course and water carved into four holes. Those caveats change the approach dramatically between players teeing it up for the first time here and those who have some experience with the target-rich course.
PALMETTO COURSE AT MYRTLEWOOD GOLF
PineHills’ sister course, Palmetto, plays slightly longer - approximately 400 yards, to be specific - and it also adds the element of the Intracoastal Waterway, which adds one of the prettiest finishing holes around on No. 18. It is there that the south-flowing water moves opposite of your shots toward the green, providing a difference maker in the visual department. Leading up to that point are 17 holes of towering pines and clean fairways. Those who avoid the former and stay in the latter find plenty of scoring opportunities during the round.
WHISPERING PINES GOLF COURSE
Located in the shadows of the planes coming and going from Myrtle Beach International Airport, Whispering Pines has long been known as the first stop for buddy golf trips or the final round for others preparing to jettison town. With that knowledge in hand, the course has become adept at speedy rounds, limiting them to a maximum of four hours and 15 minutes. And even on its busiest days - the course reported more than 50,000 rounds in 2016 - that is over little concern. The friendly design won’t confound those setting foot on the property for the first time.