Story by Ian Guerin
By far, the golf-related question I’ve heard the most over the years pertains to which Myrtle Beach-area golf course is my favorite.
The answers varied, depending on who was asking or what specifics they were looking for. Until now, though, I’ve never packaged the response together quite like this.
Let’s assume that time, travel or greens fees are no concern. Be it a well-conceived trip to South Carolina’s Grand Strand or a mental trek to fantasy land, this is how I would lay out seven days’ worth of my favorite layouts. These are the best of the best.
What better way to start a week on the links by visiting one of the Grand Strand’s most decorated tracks. Mike Strantz’s design at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club as been blowing away players since 1994, but not in terms of course difficulty. Caledonia has great sight lines and keeps the gimmicks to a minimum, so it’s the perfect beauty to get positive momentum going.
The TPC brand means something special for anyone who follows the game. So even before defending PGA Player of the Year Dustin Johnson parked his golf school at TPC of Myrtle Beach, the course - a Tom Fazio layout cut from Lowcountry-style marshland - this was a must-play. Here in 2018, TPC’s 18 holes are celebrating their 19th anniversary.
The folks at Myrtle Beach National are adamant the billboard featuring Arnold Palmer just off the property along one of the busiest stretches of the area will be there as long as possible. And why not? The King’s North course, redesigned by Palmer in 1996, has included one of the area’s biggest talking points - a par 5 No. 6 holes with an island fairway, properly monikered “The Gambler.”
Only a small number of courses locally touch the Intracoastal Waterway. And none of others do it as eloquently as the Grande Dunes Resort Course. It is here that holes No. 9 and 10 overlook the Waterway from the bluffs above, the visuals of the accompanying marina steering your eyes away from the course. Add in the par 3 No. 14, where only some vegetation separates the tee box from the water, and those three holes alone make it mandatory to this list.
Dunes Golf & Beach Club has done everything possible to put it’s product on a pedestal. A round at the semi-private property includes immaculate golf combined with seven decades of constantly developing history. From the time Dunes’ first nine holes opened in 1949, the club never stopped trying to be the best, frequently succeeding in the various rating panels.
Despite all the Dye Club at Barefoot Resort provides - a fantastic layout, hassle-free play and beautiful visuals throughout - what has always stood out most is the feel at any given time that you and your group are the lone players on the course. Creatively designed golf and carefully timed tee sheets give you the space to enjoy every moment of this semi-private round.
Tidewater Golf Club in North Myrtle Beach isn’t going to ease you through your final round of the week. The play is challenging enough, and the distractions from both the marsh along Cherry Grove Inlet on one side of the course and the Intracoastal Waterway on the other will give you plenty to think about. All that lends credence to the nickname a reporter once assigned to Tidewater: “The Pebble Beach of the East.”