Story by Ian Guerin
When the golf course count around South Carolina’s northern coastline swelled to more than 100 options, experts wondered how the market would adapt.
The 2000s were, in large part, evidence of just what that would happen.
As a small wave of high-end options wrapped up the boom of the previous decade, everyone was forced to adjust their thinking. The competition ramped up even more, leaving the middle- and high-end courses to exceed their own expectations, while, yes, some of those in the lower tiers had no choice but to shutter their businesses.
In the final portion of the five-part series, we look at the best Myrtle Beach-area courses to be built during the 2000s. Each of the three selections provided their own special touch to a place that was already a golf spectacle.
BAREFOOT GOLF & RESORT, DYE CLUB (2000)
In many ways, the Dye Club has opened doors to the Myrtle Beach golf scene on a national and international scale unlike any other. The course, home to the annual Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Master’s Celebrity Pro-Am, has been the setting for countless television and radio broadcasts each year. It has also hosted a portion of a recent season of Golf Channel’s “The Big Break”, Canadian Tour events and a large number of business functions over the years.
You don’t get to that level without having a quality product worthy of the attraction. Pete Dye’s design at this semi-private club utilizes five types of grasses, not including the natural ones that can prohibit sight lines from time to time. The precision at which the entire course was executed and maintained has kept the awards, honors and notability coming.
GRANDE DUNES RESORT CLUB (2000)
Previously the longest course in all of Myrtle Beach, Grande Dunes is also one of the more open options, as well. Roger Rulewich, maybe best known for his work as the silent member of Alabama’s prestigious Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, was given a similarly wide-open checkbook to make sure the late addition to the golf scene went straight toward the top.
Within its first decade, Grande Dunes was named the National Golf Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners Association of America. It’s place atop the bluffs overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway can feel just as lofty. Be it the views of the luxurious marina across the way from the middle holes or the par 3, No. 14’s slope down toward the water, and foursomes have had dynamic framing for their photos for 17 years and counting.
FOUNDERS CLUB AT PAWLEYS ISLAND (2008)
Founders’ inclusion on this list is somewhat of a misnomer, as the property has been serving golfers in one form or another since the 1960s. However, not since the former Sea Gull course was plowed, redesigned, rebuilt and re-opened as Founders Club could its prosperity start to be fully reached. The project took two years, cost more than $7 million and required the movement of a few hundred-thousand cubic yards of earth.
All that effort changed the personality; the course went from one that was distinctively flat to one featuring heavy sloping via undulation and mounding. What’s more, the lengthy course is also about as sand-heavy as it gets, providing even more reason for it to feel like one located a few blocks from the Atlantic Ocean.