Story by Ian Guerin
The 1960s started to bring the game of golf into the mainstream.
Nicklaus, Palmer and Player became household names, and the networks were beaming live coverage of their dominating decade into television sets across the country. That same time frame is South Carolina’s Grand Strand started to develop itself into a major player in the industry. In fact, on November 19, 1966, the day that Litchfield Country Club opened for business, the Georgetown Times newspaper hit the nail on the head.
“Several reporters observed that if golf course construction continues along the Grand Strand, from Myrtle Beach to Georgetown, a new year-around golfing capital of the country will result,” a portion of the story read.
During the 1960s, Myrtle Beach went from the home of two golf courses - Pine Lakes Country Club and Dunes Golf & Beach Club - to nine tracks. The transformation gave the area another identifying characteristic.
In the first of a five-part series, we look at the best Myrtle Beach courses to open during the 1960s and what they provided, and still contribute, to the local golf scene. They helped inspire the change with some serious staying power through quality of play and an inviting approach.
SURF GOLF & BEACH CLUB (1960)
The area’s first course built in the 1960s (and third overall) got a boost during an early 1990s renovation, but the fact that nearly six decades of golf have taken place here without constant change is a tribute to George Cobb’s original design.
The dogleg-heavy round adds some extra challenge with some beautifully placed water, maybe no more than on No. 10, where a lake cuts the fairway. Surf Club finishes up with a lengthy par 3 that also plays over water, delving out one last memorable shot before the end of the day.
LITCHFIELD COUNTRY CLUB (1966)
Litchfield’s role in the market has been distinct. Honored as the Myrtle Beach Golf Course Owners Association course of the year in 2016 (the course’s 50th anniversary), Litchfield was not only the first course in the now golf-rich Pawleys Island.
It was also the first true stay-and-play option. That was by design. What was essentially a six-member team elected to have Willard Byrd design a course as a way to attract people to the inn that already stood on the property. The plan worked, and although it took nearly two more decades for Pawleys Island to incorporate as a town, Litchfield’s mark had been made.
MYRTLEWOOD GOLF CLUB, PINEHILLS (1966)
Myrtlewood’s inaugural layout hosted its first tee sheet midway through the decade, and it took advantage of not only a centralized location smack dab in the middle of Myrtle Beach, but also its spot directly off of U.S. 17, the prime thoroughfare running north and south. That approach has paid off beautifully for more than five decades.
Originally known as the Pines Course, Arthur Hills’ name was attached following a 1993 redesign that increased the difficulty a hair while putting more of the natural terrain into play.