Story by Ian Guerin
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | The tip of the iceberg may only be a fraction of what explorers eventually see. But it’s still the iceberg. While the majority of the 90 or so courses dotting the landscape of the Myrtle Beach golfing mecca are indeed located in the central or southern corridors, the north section of the area known as the Grand Strand has more than its share to offer, as well. Those booking stay-and-play packages on the north end or using those thoroughfares to get in and out of the busiest sections of town have several to choose from. Consider this section the Gateway to Myrtle Beach and consider it more than worth a look for your golf vacation.
ABERDEEN COUNTRY CLUB
The popular 27-hole Tom Jackson design at Aberdeen has found a niche both among those looking for a quickie nine-hole round or those looking to spend 5-6 hours on the course playing every hole it has to offer, all without leaving the same property. The course features water hazards on 23 of its 27 holes, a gently rolling terrain throughout and plenty of wildlife that also calls the Waccamaw River preserve home.
BRUNSWICK PLANTATION RESORT & GOLF
Just across the border in North Carolina off U.S. 17, Brunswick Plantation is a 27-hole layout designed by regular Myrtle Beach-area architect Willard Byrd and Clyde Johnston, who himself produced a number of local projects (including two more further down this list). The aptly named Azalea, Dogwood and Magnolia nines here are crafted amid the beautiful tree-lined land that had been virtually untouched otherwise prior to the formation of the course in 1992.
COLONIAL CHARTERS GOLF CLUB
After a few years of dormancy, the once-closed course got a chance at redemption upon its re-opening in 2013 under its original name, and Colonial Charters is again a player on the North Strand section connecting North Myrtle Beach and the western outposts of Horry County. The par-71 track is a solid starter course for those needed to bone up some at the beginning of a week-long golf trek.
GLEN DORNOCH WATERWAY GOLF LINKS
Glen Dornoch now serves as the northern-most course in this part of South Carolina, and its views are ones that carry much, much further. The Clyde Johnston design recently unveiled Champion Ultradwarf Bemudagrass greens that make this stunning concept that much better. Centuries-old live oaks lead players to the 17th and 18th holes, where the Intracoastal Waterway awaits and leaves one of the best finishing segments around.
LONG BAY GOLF CLUB
The statue of Jack Nicklaus in front of the clubhouse at Long Bay lets players know they’re about to be in for a great test. It also lets them know that if he was going to leave his signature mark on the course, the drive out of the hustle and bustle of Myrtle Beach was going to be worth it. The 7,025-yard track is a splendid mix of tree lines, streams and sand usage that begs for variety of approach seldom see in such a wide-open environment.
RIVER HILLS GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB
In what will be 30 years of golf for River Hills in 2019, the course has continued to thrive in a public setting initially meant for private rounds. Early on, management changed directions, and the countless visitors over the years have been rewarded by the rolling terrain and water highlights Tom Jackson intended. Altogether, they make the course appear much more difficult than reality, leaving pleasing score cards to those who display a bit of patience.
SHAFTESBURY GLEN GOLF & FISH CLUB
Clyde Johnston’s third installment on this list is a true hidden gem. Tucked off S.C. 22 in northern Conway, Shaftesbury opened in 2001 and is one of the newest courses on the Grand Strand. It has succeeded where others have failed despite its lone wolf status - there isn’t another course within 13 miles. That’s because of crisp sight lines from the boxed tee boxes to the fantastic fairways and pristine putting surfaces.