Story by Ian Guerin
Myrtle Beach, S.C. | Thanksgiving has become a week-long string of festivities and family. Vacations span more than one day, and getting in an early round for a day of eating and lounging can be all the difference between feeling like a champ or a sloth. We decided to get you a list of five Myrtle Beach-area courses where you can work up your appetite. These five stem from the five major pockets of South Carolina’s northern coastline. We made sure to include a hole from each that will really get the juices flowing.
GRANDE DUNES RESORT COURSE
The centrally located Grande Dunes Resort Club was named the 2009 Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners Association, and for good reason. The Resort Course is a nice mix of scenery - mostly stemming from its views atop the bluffs overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway - and playability. The Roger Rulewich layout plays wide at times and squeezes at others. But start to finish, players get their money’s worth every time out. Buckle up: If you think the ninth hole at Grande Dunes feels a bit like a roller coaster, you’re not alone. The 420-yard par 4 drops significantly midway through the fairway, only to pop back up near the green. Throughout the hole, the Waterway is lining the left side, serving as quite the distraction.
LEGENDS GOLF & RESORT MOORLAND COURSE
Part of a cluster of courses west of Myrtle Beach city limits, Moorland is a P.B. Dye-infused nightmare for the unprepared. The 6,203 yards from the white tees is respectable enough. The steady complement of tricks makes it feel much longer. There are massive waste bunkers on 1, 4, 6 and 17, oversized ponds on 2, 3 and 7 and natural grass and tree growth throughout. And because it’s a Dye course, prepare for some bulkheads. Don’t let up: Playing as far as 574 yards from the back tees, No. 15 is affected by water more than probably any other hole on the course - and Dye accomplished that despite using less of it than he did on many of the others. A stream cuts nearly parallel to fairway in the final third, meaning those who can’t get a great drive are laying up or worse.
Some 20 miles south of Myrtle Beach city limits in Pawleys Island, River Club has had more than 30 years of golf proving how creative designer Tom Jackson could be. Heavily shaped fairways, water on 14 of the 18 holes, proficiently placed fairway bunkers and contoured greens are the name of the game here. Even with all that going on, though, players will find most of the challenge after the tee box. Fish tales: Jackson’s courses in the area tend to be water heavy. But it was how he incorporated it that makes them work so well. On No. 18 at River Club, he not only bent the tees, fairway and green around a large pond, he kept a peninsula portion of the fairway as a cheat code of sorts. Apt players can use it to go after the green in two on this par 5.
TIDEWATER GOLF CLUB
Tidewater likes to boast that it has 18 signature holes, and few have been about to counter that argument over time. First-time designer Ken Tomlinson’s masterpiece is sandwiched by the Cherry Grove Inlet marshes on one side and the Intracoastal Waterway on the other. In between is a round unlike anything else in Myrtle Beach, because, well, it was patterned somewhat off courses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Hazard happy: Tidewater’s 12th hole can be absolutely brutal. There are marsh carries, a large retaining wall drawing the eye away from the real focal points and five greenside bunkers preventing a clean approach. Oh, and expect a hefty amount of wind - even if you haven’t noticed it during much of the rest of the round.
TPC OF MYRTLE BEACH
The northern-most course on the esteemed Waccamaw Golf Trail, the Tom Fazio layout at TPC Myrtle Beach started with rave reviews - probably a given considering it hosted the 2000 PGA Senior Tour Championships a few months after its opening - and has continued to hold its own ever since. This is a rare chance to tee it up at a public TPC property in the Carolinas. Three’s company: The par-4 No. 3 at TPC is a oft-frustrating early hole here. A wide and deep swath of vegetation presents a hefty forced carry right off the tee box. Any sort of a mishit will likely lead your ball straight into nothingness and add a drop to your scorecard. Find the fairway on the other side, however, and you may find an early confidence boost.