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.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: Recent renovations bumped this layout up from a mid-level course to one of the best.
Terry's expert tip: Play any two of the three layouts in an 18-hole combination,or make a day of it and play all 27 holes.
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.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: If Arnold Palmer considers it one of his top designs, then it's well worth the drive to Rivers Edge.
Terry's expert tip: Located just over the state line in Shalotte, NC, this classic course is about 30 miles north of Myrtle Beach. It's worth the drive, so make sure you leave yourself plenty of travel time.
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.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: With five courses in one location, golfers may want to make a week of it and play them all.
Terry's expert tip: Earn discounts by booking multiple rounds at one of the five Big Cat courses.
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.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: As a member of the prestigious Waccamaw Golf Trail, the Heritage Club is one of the top Lowcountry layouts on the Grand Strand.
Terry's expert tip: This is one of several top choices located in Pawleys Island, so you may want to play two rounds to make the trip complete.
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.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: Tidewater has a great combination of history, scenic beauty and Southern charm.
Terry's expert tip: Although technically a semi-private club, a limited number of public tee times are available but highly sought after. Make sure you book this one early.
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 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.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: Four of the top designers in golf make this a great place to play no matter which course you choose.
Terry's expert tip: Nearby Barefoot Landing is a great place to go to dinner after your round, or to let the family go while you play a round.
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.
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. Golfers can expect a true test of their skills on this open layout.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: This course was host to the 2000 Senior PGA Tour Championship, won by legendary golfer Tom Watson.
Terry's expert tip: Even if you have a bad day on the links, TPC of Myrtle Beach has one of the best clubhouse's and 19th holes in town.
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.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: The clubhouse is a great place to spend some time unwinding after your round and taking in the scenic beauty of the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Terry's expert tip: If golfing isn't your thing, bring along a fishing pole and catch big ones while casting from the clubhouse.
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 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. The Dunes Club is semi-private, offering a limited number of public rounds, so we recommend making your reservations early.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: The second course built among the 100-plus on the Grand Strand continues to stand the test of time.
Terry's expert tip: Tee times on this popular layout can be hard to come by in the busy spring and fall seasons.