Myrtle Beach's Most Overrated Golf Courses

From, 10/05

By Tim McDonald,
National Golf Editor,
Golf Publisher Syndications

This list is subjective. But it's also put together with input from readers, staff writers, area pros, golf packagers and other insiders. Beware, some of these courses may have great conditioning and lofty reputations, but they're included here for other reasons.

First of all, ignore the "golf course of the year" award that the Myrtle Beach Golf Course Owners Association hands out - the contest is more political than anything and takes into account such things as community service, which most golfers don't care about.

The good news is that some of the worst courses have, not surprisingly, closed. The marketplace has a way of crowding out the inferior products, so it comes as no shock to hear that courses like Burning Ridge, Ocean Isle and Raccoon Run and two of Baytree's three courses are or will be gone.

It's also no surprise that others are on the selling block, or that a new course is being built where Sea Gull used to be, or that Azalea Sands and Deer Track have pretty much given up competing in a tough, shrinking marketplace.

Here's the list of Myrtle Beach courses to avoid:
The Wizard Golf Course is a design by well-respected architect Dan Maples. On a trip to the east coast, West Coast Bureau Chief Chris Baldwin panned the course in a review.
"This faux links course is jumbled together with little cohesion or challenge," Baldwin wrote. "Playing the Wizard after taking on one of Maples other two designs on this mammoth site - the Man O' War or the Witch - is a jarring letdown."
The Dunes Golf and Beach Club is considered by many to be the best course along the Grand Strand, and the major golf magazines agree: both Golf Digest and Golf magazine have ranked it in their top-100 lists. Plus, it's a Robert Trent Jones design, and has been on the scene since 1948. But, that prestige has made its way over into the Dunes' green fees, which soar up in the $160 range during peak seasons. Rank this one as overrated - there are cheaper courses close in quality nearby.
Moorland Golf Course is a tricked-up design by P.B Dye at the Legends Golf Complex. "Standing on the greens of this golf course, you feel like an ant stuck on a Ruffles potato chip," a writer wrote. "Gazing out on its ridiculously undulating, meandering, perplexing fairways, you can't help but swelling up hate, anger and the overwhelming desire to go rip your $100 right back out of the cash register."
• The Founders course at the St. James Plantation used to be called the Gauntlet, but they changed the name because it scared people off. But, they failed to make the course more playable. With a ridiculous slope rating of 151, Head Professional Rob Brothers said of Dye: I think he was smoking something.  "Gimmicks," said a St. James Plantation resident. "I don't like it. I don't play there any more."  The course has fairly easy fairways but once you get close to the green complexes, horrors await: nasty bunkers, deep and foreboding, and many of the bentgrass greens drop off sharply, some on all sides, into other nasty hazards, including an abundance of water on the back nine, which only get worse as the tide comes in. The greens aren't undulating, they're mountainous.
Colonial Charters Golf Club: "This is basically a swamp without the marsh views," said the Myrtle Beach Golf Association. The course has been in Chapter 11 reorganization for more than two years now, and owner Mike Matheny has enraged more than a few residents of Colonial Charters by first proposing to put in more than 300 condos. Now, he's reportedly trying to bulldoze the back nine for single-family homes, effectively taking the course out of the Myrtle Beach golf scene.
Wicked Stick is a John Daly "signature course," though Big John didn't design it.
"It will leave you scratching your head," Baldwin wrote. "John Daly's first signature course (a Clyde Johnston design), carries such promise and yet often fails to deliver on it. ... Wicked Stick plays like an unwieldy meld of a links-style design and John Daly's 'grip it and rip it' philosophy."
Long Bay has waste bunkers the size of some Midwestern states and elevated foothills that try to hide the traffic on nearby Highway 9.  When people talk about Jack Nicklaus courses being too hard, this is the one they have in mind, back when Nicklaus was criticized for designing courses for his game, not mine or yours. Work on the course started in 1986, the year Nicklaus won his last major, the Masters.  No. 4's 472-yard par 4 has waste bunkers that run the length of the hole on both sides. It's hosted the usual number of relatively prestigious tournaments, and with a slope of 143, it's one of the hardest courses along the Strand.
Green Acres is another of those Grand Strand courses that's changed ownership and management umpteen times. It's been known as Rolling Hills Golf Club then West Kingston.  One potential sale has fallen through - a soccer complex project failed to come up with the money - and it's back on the auction block.  It's a friendly place, but conditions could not be described as optimum. You have to be willing to spend money to stay competitive in the Myrtle Beach golf scene.
• Admirers of Lions Paw at Ocean Ridge describe it as Willard Byrd's best work, but apparently Mr. Byrd had no love for high-handicappers. With a slope of 138, play this course only if you're in the single-digits or if you want to embarrass yourself by playing the forward tees.