Founders Club at Pawleys Island brings history, aesthetics to pleasing round of golf

Set in America’s oldest seaside resort, Founders Club at Pawleys Island offers a unique layout and intriguing history. Founded in 1966 as Sea Gull Golf Club, Founders Club is the fourth oldest course at Myrtle Beach.

The area has since become a haven for golfers, especially those escaping harsh climates to get their summers into full swing early. Founders Club remains a standard for area courses. Once a rural setting, the area around Founders Club has seen exponential growth over the years.

Simply put, golfers want to play here; others want to live here.

Raleigh native Gene Hamm designed the original course in 1966. Thomas Walker renovated it 40 years later to its present design. Along the way, Founders Club made the 30 Best Courses You Can Play in South Carolina list, and was the 2011 Myrtle Beach Golf Course of the Year.

Considering a round at Founders Club? We’ve answered some of the best questions people often ask about this historic course that continues to rise in popularity.

How is the golf course at Founders Club?

Founders Club exists on Hamm’s template of the time for Sea Gull Golf Club. Walker’s modernization and upgrades brought the course into modern times, with 18 unique hole layouts and five tee boxes to fit anyone from a scratch golfer to 25 handicap.


Walker’s incarnation of the course kept true to hole numbers and routing. He reversed the back and front nines during the $7 million undertaking. The result: A course that requires strategy over length off the tee, with plenty of opportunity for a new approach each time you play.

The biggest difference: Elevation changes. Sea Gull rested on a flat course, common for that era. Today’s courses feature hills and sloping fairways, and Founders Club definitely has those.

The course has an ocean feel, with natural beach sand in waste areas and minimal cart paths. The grounds are a reflection of the region, with live oaks and pines interspersed. Founders Club plays true even in the face of the occasional deluge of rain common to spring in Myrtle Beach.

How is the clubhouse at Founders Club?

The clubhouse doesn’t disappoint after a round on such a beautiful course. Built in the lowcountry style, this clubhouse welcomes you with a view of the picturesque No. 18. The Founders Club restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Stick around for happy hour, too.

What are the best holes at Founders Club?

No. 2 is a favorite. A par-4 and 390 yards from the white tees, No. 2 gives a frightening look at first glance. Framed by water on one side and trees and a waste bunker on the other, it features an ample landing area, so take aim.

No. 3 will challenge your control off the tee. A par-3 at 166 yards, it features a shallow depth of green. You must carry over water to an angled, oval green, sloping toward the water. It’s a challenge for sure, but a beautiful one.

No. 12 takes strategy to navigate. At Par-5 and 491 yards, it looks and feels long. The challenge: A row of pot bunkers in the fairway. The smart play is short and toward the pond, which leaves you about 120 yards to the friendly green.

What are the greens like at Founders Club?

Two factors in enjoyability in a course for the average weekend player: Fairways and greens. At Founders Club, fairways are in ship shape. Greens run true, leaving the fate of the round to the player, not the grounds.

One distinctive feature: Emerald Bermuda greens. Players will notice a lack of grain on the greens. Also, this strain requires less water to maintain, so it can stand up to sometimes unrelenting heat in the summer while retaining its playability.

How difficult is Founders Club to play?

It’s a challenging par-72 that won’t break your heart – but will keep you honest, too.


Course quality will vary by player. However, Founders Club melds many desirable traits in a destination golf course. A thoughtful layout, pleasing aesthetics and quick pace of play, golfers of any magnitude can find plenty of challenge and satisfaction at Founders Club.

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