Grand Strand Gauntlet: Myrtle Beach’s Five Toughest Golf Courses

Myrtle Beach, with nearly 100 golf courses in the area, has something for literally every golfer. Men and women, younger and older, beginners and ringers alike—everyone will find a number of golf courses worthy of multiple plays over the years. The five courses on this particular list represent Myrtle Beach’s equivalent of Murderer’s Row. However, that is not to say that only single digit handicappers should show up. These courses are among the hardest in the area, but they are also among the best, giving everyone the chance to enjoy. Just be sure to check your ego at the first tee.

#5 Grande Dunes Resort Club
TIPS:   7,618 yards; Rating 77.3 / Slope 142
MIDDLE: 6,272 yards; Rating 70.0 / Slope 126
At over 7,600 yards, the Resort Club is the longest course of ‘em all in Myrtle Beach. And given its stout Course Rating and Slope, anyone willing to push the limits of their golfing abilities had better adjust scoring expectations accordingly. That said, the course does not garner the top spot on this list due to its spacious fairways and expansive greens. There’s a bit of water on the course but it is generally avoidable and the pristine putting surfaces permit well-struck putts to find the cup. Still, Roger Rulewich’s design is plenty of golf course.

#4 Dunes Golf and Beach Club
TIPS:   7,195; 75.1 / 145
MIDDLE:  6,175; 70.4 / 134
The Dunes Golf and Beach Club is the second-oldest course on the beach, a product of an era in golf course architecture that brought the everyday player closer to the experience of the pros. Robert Trent Jones, Sr., who designed the Dunes in the late 1940s, espoused the notion of “hard par, easy bogey” on many of his courses. The Dunes’ fairways are fairly narrow and its greens modestly sized, making the rating of 75.1 and slope of 145 from the 7,195 yard Gold tees easy to understand. To get the most out of a trip to the Dunes, focus less on score and more on the classy beachside setting. The rest will take care of itself.

#3 Barefoot Resort—Dye Club
TIPS:  7,343; 76.0 / 146
MIDDLE:  6,005; 69.6 / 131
The Dye Club is one of four courses at Barefoot Resort, all of which are quite a solid challenge from any set of tees. But at over 7,300 yards from the tips and boasting five par fours longer than 460 yards from that set. Add undulating greens, plenty of water and Dye’s well-known pot bunkers to the mix and you have one of the most visually stimulating and ornery but nonetheless enjoyable golf courses in the region.

#2 TPC Myrtle Beach
TIPS:  6,950; 74.0 / 145
MIDDLE: 6,193; 70.4 / 126
It is fitting that the Tournament Players Club outpost on the Grand Strand should be one of the most formidable tests in the area. TPC Myrtle Beach does not disappoint—though the shortest course on the list, it is the second most difficult. When Tom Fazio and Lanny Wadkins teamed up to craft the course through gently moving terrain, they mixed hole lengths and pars very deftly, building to a great climax with the diabolical par 3 17th and the gambler’s-haven par five 18th. TPC’s greens are usually among the fastest in the area, as well, making putting a particular challenge.

#1 Pawleys Plantation
TIPS:  7,026; 75.7 / 148
MIDDLE: 6,173; 72.0 / 139
Pawleys Plantation’s members have some of the best-traveling handicaps anywhere in the country, let alone the Grand Strand. Narrow fairways, smallish, angled greens and deep bunkers await at every turn. But not all is lost, as there is plenty of eye candy when the course bursts out onto the marshes overlooking the Waccamaw Neck on the back nine. The near-island green par three 13th hole alone—one of the most iconic holes in the state—is worth the price of a round. Play the proper set of tees, tee it up and enjoy the scenery. Where your pride may suffer, your eyes will delight.

Don’t let this list be a deterrent in any way. These courses are no pushover and may not be ideal for your first mid-winter round off the plane, but they are as popular as they are tough. Join thousands of fellow golfers and tackle them all.

Posted 12/19/12

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