Story by Ian Guerin
Any golf course wishing to make a great impression has to put a quality bow on its product.
For most, that comes in the form of the 18th hole, a place where the scorecard wraps up, but also where a designer’s work must be on its best display. South Carolina’s Grand Strand does that well, with more than its fair share of great finishers.
The following a few of those Myrtle Beach area golf courses that continue to impress year after year, regardless of price tag or any spot in various ratings panels.
The former plantation land was spectacularly carved into a course that frequently finds itself on national lists among the best public courses. Mike Strantz did not disappoint with No. 18. The 383-yarder provides great visuals of the property, including a small lake and the adjoining marsh grasses and further vegetation. It presents an island-like effect for the protected green, as well as the clubhouse and restaurant.
The split-fairway 18th at Glen Dornoch was already something to behold, as the par 4 combines strategy of the carry off the tee and what amounts to a forced carry over a mock dogleg. There are also 16 bunkers when you include the back end of the shared green. But the highlight of Glen Dornoch’s final 455 yards of play is the Intracoastal Waterway running up the left side. From there, some of the biggest ships to use that stretch are visible most days.
Palmetto’s finisher may not be the most challenging of the group, but it plays to its biggest strength - and plays it up big. With the Intracoastal Waterway running parallel to the entirety of the hole, Palmetto’s last hole brings players back to the clubhouse while proverbially swimming upstream. At just 377 from the whites, it lends itself to plenty of birdies. And with that type of view, it’s impossible to ignore the hole’s impact on visitors’ memories of the course.
The first of two par 5s on this list, River Club is a jack-knifed piece of track forcing big hitters to maximize their precision. The hole bends counter-clockwise around a pond, getting slimmer as you approach the end of the fairway and a frequently unusable approach to the green. It is there that the putting surface juts back into water, creating a peninsula target area for those able to go after the green in two - although most should consider themselves lucky to do it in three.
The average golfer is going to discover very little chance shaving strokes off of Tom Fazio’s final hole at TPC. That’s because from the white tees, players must still clear 298 yards to reach the secondary portion of the fairway. Without getting to the further range, some 200 yards remain to the green. However, that last 40 percent of the hole is accompanied by water up the left and four banked bunkers on the right.
The list wraps up just down the street from where it began, with Mike Strantz’s second and only other Myrtle Beach design leaving the same awe-inspiring views as his first. After carrying a large pond, players are able to start focusing on the final third of the hole, one complete with a pair of safety waste bunkers, a lengthy-yet-slender green and the famed blue-roofed clubhouse mere steps off the back.