Myrtle Beach’s Golf Coast

King's North Hole 18. Courtesy Myrtle Beach National Golf Club

King’s North Hole 18. Courtesy Myrtle Beach National Golf Club

Myrtle Beach’s greatest attraction may be its 70 miles of wide, sandy beaches, but many of its 14 million annual visitors spend a lot of time trying to avoid sand. Bunker sand, that is. On the 100 courses scattered along the Grand Strand, there are probably as many golfers having fun with their sand wedges as there are kids with shovels and pails on the beach.

Myrtle Beach has seriously challenging golf tracks, seven of which Golf Digest ranked among the nation’s top 100 in 2009-2010. There are creations by almost every major architect, all of whom make good use of the area’s pine forests, wetlands, lakes, Intracoastal Waterway and, yes, sand. But the beauty of this wildly popular golf destination is that anyone can find a course (or golf package) to match his/her golf handicap and pocketbook.

Golf first appeared in Myrtle Beach in 1927, with a visionary who began building a resort on the scale of The Greenbrier. His dream evaporated in the 1929 stock market crash but the completed hotel and golf course inspired young Franklin Burroughs and a partner. The pair owned 80,000 acres of the forested land on the coast, and by the 1950s had transformed Myrtle Beach into a year-round destination with many hotels and golf courses.

Today, Myrtle Beach’s first course, Pine Lakes International Country Club, is a must-play for its history and classic character. Last year much of “The Granddaddy’s” original tracking and Scottish style were restored, and the new Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame was built on the grounds.

Nearby is another historic layout, the Dunes Golf and Beach Club, a 1947 Robert Trent Jones Sr. creation lying between marshland and the ocean. Jones’ son Rees restored the course in 2003. Golf World ranks it in the country’s top 50 resort courses. A chip shot away is the Resort Course at Grand Dunes, where the Intracoastal Waterway brings water into play on 16 holes.

Near the center of Myrtle Beach action is Myrtle Beach National, a trio of courses including the Arnold Palmer-designed King’s North, which is refreshingly devoid of fairway housing. The sixth hole is called “The Gambler,” because it offers a shortcut via an island fairway.

South of Myrtle Beach proper is a cluster of notable layouts–Caledonia Golf & Fish Club (in Golf Digest’s Top 100) and True Blue Golf Plantation, both designed by the late Mike Strantz on the grounds of former rice plantations; Pawleys Plantation, a Nicklaus track on the edge of wetlands; and the Heritage Club, which lies between the ocean and the Waterway on a former plantation studded with magnolias, ancient oak trees, and rice fields.

On the North Strand, the sprawling Barefoot Resort is home to highly regarded courses by Tom Fazio, Pete Dye, Davis Love III and Greg Norman. Sitting atop a peninsula overlooking the ocean is the Tidewater Golf Club, a Ken Tomlinson design flanked by marshes, ocean inlets and the Intracoastal Waterway.

Wherever you play on the Grand Strand, you’re always close to outstanding seafood restaurants, entertainment and an unlimited choice of accommodations. If you’re traveling with young golf enthusiasts (or need to hone your putting) there are 50 miniature golf courses in Myrtle Beach, with challenges you won’t soon forget. And, of course, there’s the beach.

For more information, www.visitmyrtlebeach.com

Top Five Reasons for a Myrtle Beach Golf Vacation

1—100 courses—choices for all budgets and abilities

2—Good golf weather year-round

3—Summer greens fees under $50

4—Countless golf packages, with tee times booked from any hotel

5—Golf buddies—more than 3.4 millions rounds played a year

 

About Dale Leatherman

In the course of her life she has exercised racehorses at New York’s Belmont Park, showed jumping horses on the A Circuit, driven a race car with the late Paul Newman and played the world’s most famous golf courses.

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