Best Of Myrtle Beach Golf

GolfChannel.com, 2/13

Golf Digest , 2/09

Seven days, seven great plays: A week's worth of the best golf in Myrtle Beach
Ian Guerin, GolfChannel.com, 2/13

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Players can often be overwhelmed by the sheer number of courses on South Carolina's Grand Strand.

So many to play, so little time.

No worries, we're here to point you in the right direction. If you've got one week, these are great options to make sure you feel you've played seven fantastic Myrtle Beach golf courses.

But why stop there?

For every course, we've got a post-round option for dinner and drinks. Make the most of the trip.

Day 1: Founder's club at Pawleys Island

Some locals have called this club the "Transformer." Recently re-built and re-designed atop an older golf course, Founder's Club is one of the prides of the south end of the Grand Strand.

Instead of fighting the natural layout -- the course is located at a spot where the Intracoastal Waterway and elevation once deposited plenty of sand -- the Tom Walker design put it to good use. Cart paths are made out of that sand, and the only true pavement is that around the greens and tees.

The element can add a bit of extra strategy to a round.

Pro tip: Pawleys Island Tavern may not look like much from the outside, but locals have made the "PIT" a mainstay. The restaurant features Lowcountry cuisine, meaning seafood is a must. The Pawleys Island Tavern is also home to some of the area's best bands, and they have live music most nights of the week.

Day 2: Caledonia Golf and Fish Club

There's a reason Caledonia Golf and Fish Club routinely ranks on just about every national top-100 list made in the past two decades.

This course is maintained as well as any in the area. Your round will be capped off with No. 18, a par 4 that tests your abilities. Make sure you snap a shot while on the green with the clubhouse in the background.

Caledonia will cost you a little more than your average course, but it is well worth the price tag.

Pro tip: La Playa has some great authentic Mexican food. From the fish tacos to the enchiladas or something a little spicier, you can't go wrong. While you're at it, try one of the margaritas. It will make a possible bad day on the course seem a little better.

Day 3: TPC Myrtle Beach

Tom Fazio wasn't playing any games when he designed TPC Myrtle Beach.

The former PGA Seniors Tour course, like Caledonia, gets plenty of recognition from national and local publications alike. TPC recently underwent green replacement, and the staff touched up many of the bunkers.

This course can also be packaged with others on this list, so there is potential for savings there, as well.

Pro tip: After a fire destroyed the Dead Dog Saloon in 2012, owners and locals made sure it was back up and running as quickly as possible. It's now back in business, and the picturesque shots of the inlet are an added bonus to the food and drinks.

Day 4: Heathland at Legends Golf Course

Use your vacation's hump day to go back in time.

At the Heathland at Legends Golf Course, players will get a feel of the Scottish highlands. The links-style course is different than any other you'll play in Myrtle Beach.

With an abundance of long Heather grass and a wind factor that simply doesn't make sense, put on the tam and go to work.

Pro tip: Just around the corner from Legends sits a local's favorite, Handley's Pub and Grub . The Scottish owners have established one of the best beer selections in the area. And if you want to feel like you're still across the pond, go with the fish and chips.

Day 5: Myrtle Beach National, South Creek Course

While Myrtle Beach National's King's North Course, includes the famous No. 6, the Gambler, the South Creek Course might actually be the more popular of the three MBN courses.

South Creek has a pristine layout, and renovations just a couple years back proved to be worth every penny. The tee boxes are immaculate, the fairways give players nearly perfectly positioned second and third shots, and the greens roll as true as just about any in the area.

Pro tip: What better place to cap off a round than at a place named for one of the all-time greats? Sam Snead's Tavern will be opening a new location down the road from Myrtle Beach National in April 2013. For those who haven't been to one of the other locations in Florida or Virginia, expect to enter a restaurant decked out in memorabilia from some of the game's best players throughout the years.

Day 6: Dunes Golf and Beach Club

If you want a private atmosphere at a semi-private availability, this is the course for you. Dunes Golf and Beach Club stands among the best courses in America every year.

The Robert Trent Jones course includes three of the best holes on the Grand Strand packaged together on the back nine. No. 11, No. 13 and No. 18 have the notoriety among locals and tourists alike, and they make sure you remember your round well after it has been completed.

Pro tip: You've just played an upscale course. Throw on a jacket and keep it going. A short drive down Ocean Boulevard will lead you to Sea Captain's House , one of the finer restaurants Myrtle Beach has to offer. From fish to steaks to drinks, you can't go wrong with anything on the menu.

Day 7: Tidewater Golf Club

Golf Channel's Matt Ginella recently ranked Tidewater Golf Club as one of America's top-40 courses (along with Dunes Club, TPC Myrtle Beach and Caledonia).

That was added to a long list of accolades the North Myrtle Beach golf course has garnered since it opened in the early 1990s. Located near Cherry Grove, on the north end of the Grand Strand, Tidewater has averaged more than three national and regional top play honors annually.

The views certainly haven't hurt that. Players can do their thing while seeing the Atlantic Ocean, the Intracoastal Waterway and the Cherry Grove Inlet salt marshes all in a matter of holes.

Pro tip: You've finished your week of golf, but there's one more spot you should try for food before you go. Give Hamburger Joe's in North Myrtle Beach a shot, and try the bacon double cheeseburger. You won't need to eat again for some time.

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A north-to-south swing through golf's Grand Strand

By Matt Ginella, Golf Digest
February 2009

As the economy tried to work its way through a bad case of the shanks, I went on a trip to the hub of value golf. I ordered a sampler platter of some of the best Myrtle Beach has to offer the unpretentious, bottom-line-conscious golfer.

I played six courses in three days, and after the final round, as I drove off the property of the Caledonia Golf & Fish Club , down the long tunnel of oaks (a first cousin of Magnolia Lane, the tree-lined driveway of Augusta National), I couldn't help but think that I had saved the best for last.

Caledonia is located at the bottom, geographically, of a 60-mile Grand Strand of 100 public-golf options, but it should be at the top of your list of courses to play the next time you take a trip to Myrtle Beach.

Caledonia, a Mike Strantz design that opened in 1994, has a quaint and charming clubhouse with a classic Southern porch overlooking the 18th green. This public course has the polish of a private club, starting with the efficient service at its busy bag-drop area. There's no range, but I like the duck-decoy tee markers, complimentary fish soup as you make your way to the first tee and the fantastic set of finishing holes. Even if you're not playing from the back (that would be the pintail tees), be sure to walk across the wood footbridge and appreciate the entire view of the 415-yard 14th hole.

After all, looking at things from multiple perspectives is the way Caledonia was designed. Strantz, who died of cancer in 2005 at the age of 50, drew each hole by hand from many angles.

I played the mallard tees, which might seem short at 6,121 yards, but trust me when I say you should try breaking par from the mallards before you waddle back to the pintails.

My Myrtle trip began at Thistle Golf Club , 50 miles north of Caledonia. It is so far north it's actually in North Carolina. A castle-like clubhouse, designed to replicate a Scottish club of the 19th century, has replaced the temporary trailer that served as the golf shop. The new clubhouse is filled with memorabilia from the original, Scotland-based Thistle Golf Club (which dates to 1815), including a bar top from Scotland that was built in 1875. The American version of Thistle has 27 rolling, open, well-manicured holes designed by local architect Tim Cate.

Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation , also in the northern part of Myrtle, is removing 70 trees to open up some greens to more sunlight. The knock on Tidewater is that there isn't much to it, other than four memorable holes along the water (3, 4, 12 and 13). I liked Tidewater and thought, 'Isn't that what critics say about Pebble Beach?'

Throughout my trip, the service was pretty good. The only time I felt a little like the Invisible Man was at the Dunes Golf and Beach Club , a semiprivate course designed by Robert Trent Jones. Built in 1948, it's the second-oldest club in Myrtle Beach and is widely considered one of the area's best. I loved the course, but I could sense the staff had a much stronger connection with the club's members than with the public. On the famous 545-yard 13th hole, Waterloo, I skipped a couple of shots into the pond and finished with an 8. I renamed the hole Waterglue.

The TPC of Myrtle Beach is a stark contrast to the Dunes Club in terms of service but equal in golf quality. Designed by Tom Fazio, it's a former site of the Senior Tour Championship and the area's only course to earn the maximum five stars, according to Golf Digest's Best Places to Play reader ratings. It's also home to the ridiculously long, young tour professional Dustin Johnson, who finished fourth in driving distance in 2008 with an average of 309.7 yards. Locals say he reaches the 538-yard 18th hole with driver, 8-iron. That's almost four 8-irons for me.

By trip's end, I had played four courses on Golf Digest's list of America's 100 Greatest Public Courses. All six were 4½ stars or more. The cost? Myrtle Beach Golf Desk ( www.golfdesk.com ) quoted me a price for the same six courses in peak season (April) plus four nights in a two-bedroom condo at the Barefoot Resort Golf Villas for $1,099 per person. Warren Buffett once said, "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get." Buffett, who is a golfer, would love Myrtle Beach.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE
A STEAK FROM A SHARK
In the middle of Myrtle, go to Greg Norman's steakhouse for the dark wood, high ceilings, open kitchen, big plates, fine wines and a tender slab of beef.

TIPS FROM A BLOWFISH
Singer Darius Rucker of Hootie & the Blowfish, a South Carolina native, is a huge Myrtle Beach fan. His favorite courses: Caledonia, John Daly's Wicked Stick and Barefoot Resort's Dye course , where he has an annual pro-am to raise money for junior golfers.

A COURSE BY A KING
King's North at Myrtle Beach National is an Arnold Palmer design with some good holes but some quirky details: greenside bunkers on the 12th hole shaped like an S and a C for South Carolina and 42 bunkers from tee to green on the 395-yard finishing hole.

See Also: Myrtle's Top 50 Courses and Fat Guy's Myrtle Beach SC Golf Weekend

Myrtle From Stem To Stern