The greater Myrtle Beach area is home to some 100 golf courses, so naturally there’s some competition (friendly, of course) between them. One of the places in which that competition plays out is through the simple yet informative ranking system found on MyrtleBeachGolf.com, where visitors and Myrtle Beach locals alike rank each Grand Strand golf course from 1 to 5 in six different categories: Tees, Fairways, Greens, Staff, Pro Shop and Grill. For golfers who treat their rounds as an all-around experience, this provides a great snapshot of each course at a given time.
So, without further ado, here are the current top five golf courses on the North Strand (from North Myrtle Beach into North Carolina) as ranked by your fellow Myrtle Beach golfers:
5. Barefoot Resort – Dye Club
There are few characters in golf quite like the seemingly ageless Pete Dye, who continues to be active in his chosen field of golf course architecture into his tenth decade of life. The Dye Club at Barefoot Resort is one of three courses he designed on the Grand Strand (the other two being a joint effort with his son P.B. at Prestwick Golf & Country Club in Surfside Beach and his solo course at the private DeBordieu Club south of Pawleys Island). The Dye Club is an unmistakable Dye course, with holes framed by steep mounds, a mix of huge, sandy waste areas and tiny pot bunkers, and railroad tie-rimmed water hazards. The highlights are the four par-5s, which require thought and careful decision-making on every shot.
4. Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links
The Intracoastal Waterway serves as a prominent hazard on many Myrtle Beach golf courses — one of them being Glen Dornoch, a Clyde Johnston design. As its name suggests, Johnston added a Scottish-type aesthetic to the course, giving it large, undulating greens and small pot bunkers at strategic points. The closing stretch of holes is the real stunner here, with three holes where the Intracoastal and its outlying marshes are both a constant concern and a source of wonderful vistas. Best of all, there’s no housing at Glen Dornoch, which means golfers feel an even deeper-than-usual sense of escape and communion on the course.
3. Tiger’s Eye Golf Links
One of the four “Big Cat” courses at expansive Ocean Ridge Plantation in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, Tiger’s Eye is a stunning Tim Cate design that immediately became known as one of Myrtle Beach’s best as soon as it opened. Cate’s style of expansive bunkering and large, undulating greens gives the course a “big ballpark” feel, which encourages players to swing confidently, even when danger lurks just around the corner. Water hazards on the course are lined with walls of boulders, giving them a uniquely forbidding, yet mysterious, look.
2. Thistle Golf Club
Tim Cate is far from a one-hit wonder as a golf course architect, so it is no surprise that two of his courses are featured on this list. Thistle is an open, rolling 27-hole layout that can be played in three different 18-hole combinations, depending on whether the player is assigned the Cameron, MacKay or Stewart Nines. Regardless, if you have time to play a third nine, take the opportunity, as the entirety of Thistle Golf Club is not to be missed. Equally memorable is the clubhouse at Thistle, which may be Myrtle Beach’s most interesting. It is built to resemble an inland Scottish lodge, and as a result it lords over the course in grand fashion and makes for a perfect place to enjoy a drink before or after the round.
1. Sea Trail Plantation – Byrd Course
The surprise member of this list signals a shift in management for the better at the three-course Sea Trail Plantation. Course architect Willard Byrd is responsible for some of Myrtle Beach’s more underrated layouts, and recent visitors are starting to give him his due for his efforts just over the North Carolina border. Opened in the fall of 1990, the course winds through coastal forest and around several man-made lakes. At just 6,750 yards from the back tees, it does not brutalize players with length, meaning both shorter and longer hitters will enjoy it.
Want to have your say in the rankings of the Grand Strand’s dozens of wonderful golf courses? It’s easy: just come down to Myrtle Beach, tee it up and share your thoughts at MyrtleBeachGolf.com!