By: Chris King
Sure, it’s part marketing jargon but Myrtle Beach really is the most popular golf destination in America. The Grand Strand, as the area is locally called, is home to 90 courses that range from Pawleys Island, S.C. to just across the state line in Brunswick County, N.C.
As a result of the depth and quality of the area’s offerings, nearly every traveling golfer in the eastern half of North America has made a pilgrimage to Myrtle Beach but few have played every course. Making the most common question: what is Myrtle Beach’s best course?
I’m here to help. I also want to assure you that the Myrtle Beach area has re-opened with the health and safety of visitors in mind. We care and we want you to come back!
I’ve lived in Myrtle Beach for 20 years and been fortunate enough to play every golf course in the area, most of them multiple times (though rarely well!), so here is one local’s ranking of Myrtle Beach’s 10 best courses:
1. Dunes Golf & Beach Club – The Robert Trent Jones Sr. classic was the first course to attract national attention to the area and it remains Myrtle Beach’s strongest layout. Dunes Club is universally regarded as one of RTJ’s best and the club’s commitment to keeping the course in premium condition only enhances its appeal. Did I mention the greens are as fast any you will find outside a Tour event? If you have the opportunity to play the Dunes Club, take advantage of it.
2. Caledonia Golf & Fish Club – Mike Strantz’ first solo design is unforgettable. From the alley of live oak trees that line the entrance to the unforgettable 18th hole, which concludes in the shadow of an antebellum style clubhouse, a round at Caledonia is an experience. Both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine rank Caledonia among America’s top 100 public courses and it’s every bit that good.
3. Tidewater Golf Club – This is the Myrtle Beach area’s prettiest course and there isn’t much of an argument to the contrary. Nine holes reside along either Cherry Grove or the Intracoastal Waterway. The third and 12th play adjacent to one another and each bring Cherry Grove into play, as does the par 4, fourth hole, which is the area’s best two-shotter. This is a can’t-miss course.
4. Grande Dunes Resort Course – No Myrtle Beach golf course takes better advantage of its real estate along the Intracoastal Waterway than Grande Dunes, highlighted by the 14th hole. The par 3 plays from an elevated tee box to a green that borders the Intracoastal. It’s the most dramatic shot on a course full of them.
5. TPC Myrtle Beach – If you want to play a big boy golf course, here it is. TPC has hosted the Senior PGA Tour Championship, it has been the home course of Dustin Johnson, in addition to hosting his namesake junior tournament, and it hosted a NCAA Regional in 2019 where none other than Colin Morikawa played. Great golf course that is everything you would expect in a TPC layout.
6. True Blue Golf Club – I struggled with True Blue being this low and could argue for it as high as four. This was Strantz’ second area course but it doesn’t take a back seat to any layout. Gargantuan fairways, framed by waste bunkers, and equally large greens make True Blue a treat to play. If you are a mid to high-handicapper, don’t believe the hype about the course being too difficult. It’s a delight to play no matter your skill level.
7. Dye Course at Barefoot – Many prefer the Love or Fazio courses at Barefoot, but give me Pete Dye’s only solo design in Myrtle Beach. This is a rugged layout but it’s a treat to play and it’s the longtime host of the annual Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am. You aren’t likely to have a career round on the Dye Course (no surprise!) but you will enjoy the day.
8. Pawleys Plantation – Speaking of tough tracks, there is a strong case to be made this Jack Nicklaus design is Myrtle Beach’s most difficult. But you will love it. Six holes on an unforgettable back nine bring a saltwater marsh into play, including the par 3 13th, which features a peninsula green that is exposed to the marsh and wind coming off the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Every part of your game will be tested at Pawleys Plantation.
9. Prestwick Country Club – This is the area’s most underrated course, in my estimation. People don’t always think of Prestwick being on the short list of Myrtle Beach’s best, but it is. The back nine in particular is a treat to play. If you haven’t done so, make it a point to play the P.B. Dye design.
10. King’s North at Myrtle Beach National: From the Gambler – the iconic par 5 sixth hole with an alternate, island fairway – to the island green par 3 12th and No. 18, which has more than 40 bunkers lining the fairway, King’s North is one of my favorites. Why? It’s a fun course to play. This is one of Myrtle Beach’s bedrock layouts and it’s one you won’t forget.
Your top 10 may look different – there are persuasive cases to be made for courses like Heritage Club and the Love and Fazio layouts at Barefoot – but I’ll stack my top 10 against the best from any other destination in America.
For more information on a trip to Myrtle Beach, including breaking news and the best golf package deals in the market, visit www.MyrtleBeachGolfTrips.com.
Soooooo in addition to the great golf……..did you know……….Myrtle Beach, continues to rank as one of the fastest-growing family and vacation destinations in the nation, attracting approximately 20 million visitors annually. Given its accessibility and variety of attractions for couples and families alike, the Myrtle Beach area received several new accolades in 2019 including being ranked number one on USA Today’s list of “50 Cities Where Everyone Wants to Live,” one of Yahoo! Finance’s “30 Most Affordable U.S. Vacations for Families,” and one of Southern Living’s “The South’s Best Beach Towns 2019.”
Although the Canada / US border is currently closed, let’s hope it re opens soon because we know that so many of you like to drive to Myrtle. For those of you who do like to fly…..a reminder Spirit Airlines non-stop from one of the three border cities, Detroit, MI; Niagara Falls, NY; Plattsburgh, NY, that services Canadians out of the regions of Windsor, Niagara Falls and Montreal/Ottawa. Porter Airlines flies from the Billy Bishop Toronto City Centre Airport on a seasonal basis from February to May each year.
Check out the short little video with some safety tips for visiting The Beach
For more information on Myrtle Beach in general click below https://www.visitmyrtlebeach.com/