With Over 100 Courses, Myrtle Beach Makes a Golfer's Paradise

Photo courtesy of Tidewater Golf Club
Photo courtesy of Barefoot Resort
By Terry Massey, Myrtle Beach Local Expert

Myrtle Beach is the self-titled "Golf Capital USA," and it has the courses to back it up. There are more than 100 golf courses within a 60-mile radius, so visitors can find exactly what they're looking for on the links. For groups of golfers looking for a guys' getaway, check out some of Myrtle Beach's most challenging layouts in  The Dunes Golf & Beach Club and the TPC Myrtle Beach . For parents looking to leave the spouse and kids at the beach while they sneak away to the links, Barefoot Golf Resort features four great courses close to all the action. But if you're looking to escape the bright lights of Myrtle Beach, a short drive south to Pawleys Island is well worth the trip, featuring former rice and indigo plantations that have been carved into lovely Lowcountry layouts like Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and True Blue Plantation.Nature is also abundant and beautiful on the north end of the Grand Strand along the Carolina border at Rivers Edge Golf Club and the Big Cats of Ocean Ridge Plantation. Along with some of the most scenic coastal courses in the Southeast, a short drive inland reveals another landscape of dense maritime forests and pristine wetlands. There are also many more affordable courses for golfers on a budget, and special golf packages are available at most resorts that offer discounts on golf and accommodations.

10. River Oaks Golf Plantation
Photo courtesy of River Oaks Golf Plantation

River Oaks Golf Plantation in Myrtle Beach offers three spectacular nine-hole layouts that span an 800-acre plantation that borders the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway. Designed by famed architects Gene Hamm and Tom Jackson, River Oaks Golf Plantation features 27 championship holes in a scenic setting of natural lakes and wetlands. Named for wildlife native to the former preserve, the Bear, Fox and Otter courses present their own unique set of challenges. Golfers of all skill level will find their games put to the test. River Oaks Golf Plantation recently underwent major renovations to make this place even more popular among local and visiting golfers.

9. Big Cats of Ocean Ridge Plantation
Photo courtesy of Big Cats of Ocean Ridge Plantation

Ocean Ridge Plantation offers golf so good that it makes the 30-minute drive up Highway 17 seem well worth the effort. Designed by Willard Byrd, Lion's Paw appeals to all skill levels with its forgiving fairways and contoured greens. One of two courses here designed by Tom Cate, Panther's Run poses a different set of challenges than those offered by the former – en lieu of long shots, this course requires accuracy and, perhaps, a little daring. Pinehurst inspired Cate's Tiger's Eye, whose traditional design was carved out of Sunset Beach's maritime forests. It's hard to go wrong by playing any of these five links.

8. Heritage Club
Photo courtesy of Heritage Club

After playing a few holes at the Heritage Club, you may just find yourself wishing that you'd brought your camera instead of your driver. Constructed on tracts that once made up the True Blue and Midway Plantations, this exquisite course enjoys an overwhelming array of scenery, from giant magnolias and oaks that date back three centuries to natural lakes and wetlands. Yes, this par-71 is as beautiful as they come, and it wastes no time letting you know how tough it can be – the second hole (and the #1 handicap) is a long, narrow par-5 whose green is guarded by trees, traps and water.

7. Tidewater Golf Club
Photo courtesy of Tidewater Golf Club

Designed by Ken Tomlinson, a native South Carolinian, Tidewater pays homage to the courses of the early 20th century – that is to say, his intent was that this course fit the landscape and natural beauty of the area. Based on the accolades Tidewater has received over the years, it's easy to guess that Tomlinson's idea was a success. The 500-acre tract looks out over various landscapes, including coastal bluffs, Lowcountry forests, saltwater marshes, and even the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway. The scenic setting and challenging design make the Heritage Club a perfect play for golfers of all skill levels.

6. Rivers Edge Golf Club

An Arnold Palmer signature course, Rivers Edge sits on the banks of the Shallotte River and offers an outstanding arsenal of breathtaking views and championship-caliber holes. Six fairways stretch across bluffs that overlook the river as it winds through the marshes. Measuring just over 6900 from the back tees, Rivers Edge will not overwhelm you with long distances, but it does make full use of the landscape. Take for example the ninth hole: The par-five forces a second shot that must clear the water in order to land on a peninsula-like sliver of fairway extending into the marsh. Bring your accuracy ... or plenty of balls.

5. Barefoot Golf Resort
Photo courtesy of Barefoot Resort

Featuring four outstanding courses, the Barefoot Resort is truly a destination unto itself, especially for golfers. The Norman Course features striking holes along the Intracoastal Waterway and takes full advantage of the natural landscape. The course designed by Davis Love III is a traditional Lowcountry plantation course featuring wide fairways and ample landing areas. The third trek, by Tom Fazio, also features a classic Lowcountry design and is flanked by water and dense tree cover. The picturesque (and semi-private) Dye Course, meanwhile, is set against the Carolina Bays and features many of its designer's signature pitfalls, requiring that golfers avoid being distracted by the scenery.

4. True Blue Plantation
Photo courtesy of True Blue Plantation

Widely regarded as one of the Strand's – even one of South Carolina's – top golf courses, True Blue features wide, immaculate fairways, rolling terrain and a spectacular marriage with the surrounding landscape. Built on a former rice and indigo plantation, this course plays 7,062 yards from the back tees and traverses a diverse terrain ranging from salt marshes to dense forests. Featuring on-site golf villas for comfort and convenience, golfers can stroll to the tee box for their round. Designed by renowned architect Mike Strantz, True Blue truly is one of the treasures of Pawleys Island and a gem of the Grand Strand.

3. TPC Myrtle Beach

Untamed wetlands and rugged pine forests characterize this scenic course, designed by the legendary Tom Fazio. Indeed, Fazio's aim was to create a course that would not take away from the features of the landscape, and each fairway seems to brandish a different natural hazard, whether it's a water feature or an expanse of wetland that must be carried. Elevated tee boxes and open fairways give golfers the illusion of advantage, but this quickly fades once they encounter one of 70 bunkers Fazio incorporated into his design.

2. Caledonia Golf & Fish Club
Photo courtesy of Caledonia Golf & Fish Club

Once a rice plantation, beautiful Caledonia is as prestigious a public course as you'll find in Myrtle Beach, and it continues to receive award after award each year. Centered on a lovely antebellum-styled clubhouse, the rolling course is flanked by pines and hardwoods and challenges even the most accurate hitters with its many sand bunkers and water hazards. Designed by award-winning architect Mike Strantz, this course has made numerous lists and won countless awards for its design and playability. Service and maintenance are also top-notch, but those factors won't help you tackle this challeninging layout that is one of the toughest on the Grand Strand.

1. Dunes Golf & Beach Club
Photo courtesy of Dunes Golf & Beach Club

A Robert Trent Jones signature course (he oversaw its renovation in the 1970s and early '90s), The Dunes was completed in 1948 and stands today as one of the Strand's most respected – even revered – golf clubs. One of the course's most endearing qualities is that each hole has been individually named to give golfers a better idea of the challenges awaiting them. The signature hole is the par-5 #13, famously known as "Waterloo" thanks to the sharp dogleg it takes around crystalline Lake Singleton.