Story by Ian Guerin
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | Everyone always asks us about the best sections of the beach along South Carolina’s northern coastline. Newcomers give us that deer-in-headlights stare when we rattle off the following five golf courses. For as much as our environment is crafted by the sand attached to the nearby Atlantic Ocean, several designers ensured their products would be defined similarly. Chances are, you’re going to break out your sand wedge time and again on the five following tracks.
FOUNDERS CLUB OF PAWLEYS ISLAND
Our list begins with arguably the sandiest course in all of the Myrtle Beach area. Founders Club, reopened in 2008 after a massive renovation project that, among other things, flipped the nines, shows exactly what Thomas Walker had in mind for this stretch of land on the south end of the Grand Strand. Founders measures at a maximum distance of 7,007 yards, and it feels longer at times because of massive waste areas and pot bunkers, all filled with natural beach sand. It will be almost inescapable start to finish.
LONG BAY GOLF CLUB
The tuning fork-shaped waste bunker on No. 10 here gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so. However, it was only part of Jack Nicklaus’ semi-diabolical scheme at Long Bay. The Golden Bear’s layout requires players to avoid another one into the green on No. 2, miss mirrored ones on No. 4 and then navigate the H-shaped on 16. For good measure, there are 68 more smaller or more conventional sand-based hazards along the course. If your wedge stays in your bag throughout, go buy a lottery ticket.
MYRTLE BEACH NATIONAL KING'S NORTH
You won’t be the first person to slip a “Jesus, Arnie” when playing Palmer’s King’s North course at Myrtle Beach National. Take the last hole alone, where 40 bunkers - ranging the waste, traditional and pot variety - make the 367-yard par 4 open your eyes Clockwork Orange style. That’s the crescendo, obviously, but the approach wasn’t 100-percent backloaded. In the first 17 holes, players face an average of more than three bunkers per hole. Palmer utilized another nice touch on the par-3 No. 12, where the “SC” bunkers pay homage to the Palmetto State.
SHAFTESBURY GOLF & FISH CLUB
Not all that long ago, Shaftesbury was even more wide open than it is now. Less than two decades into its life span, the course was updated to include several oversized waste bunkers. They now influence shot selection on Nos. 1, 2, 5, 7, 12, 13, 14 and 16. What’s more, they have been crafted in places to add a secondary cart path option, an added benefit on days when riding the fairway isn’t an option. Added to the heavily guarded greens, and sand is a much bigger part of Shaftesbury than it has ever been before.
TRADITION GOLF CLUB
Tradition’s property includes one of the biggest practice facilities in the area, and we advise that you take advantage of it prior to a round on Ron Garl’s only local layout. Opened in 1996, Tradition went to work testing golfers on hitting their placements. A small bit of water and some thick native grass areas add to the challenge, but the vast amount of sand is immensely more noticeable. Oversized waste bunkers present themselves on five of the first six holes and 11 overall.