Grande Dunes Resort Club is the work of Roger Rulewich, who is not exactly a household name in golf course architecture. But Rulewich’s longtime boss, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., was and continues to be, thanks in large part to his two sons, Rees and Robert Jr. Indeed, Rulewich learned a great deal from RTJ and applied some of it at Grande Dunes. Unfortunately, many of the principles he applied were the ones that people have criticized about his longtime boss’ golf courses.
The main flaw at Grande Dunes is repetitiveness. Every par four plays pretty much straightaway until the 18th, where the idea of a dogleg finally occurred to Rulewich. And with the exception of the 6th hole, a lone shortish two-shotter that gives players options as to how to play the hole, there is extremely little variation in length of the par fours. From the 6,737 yard tees, there’s 42 yards’ difference between the longest and shortest par fours and from the 6,272 yard set, the difference is 50 yards. This means many players hit the same two or three clubs into most every hole at Grande Dunes Resort Club.
For the relative vanilla nature of the par fours, Grande Dunes does make up for it with a nice set of par fives and threes, with some very attractive scenery. Starting at the par three 8th, with a shallow and very wide green that demands a long-iron or fairway wood tee shot, there is a stretch of seven of nine holes that play alongside or have views of the Intracoastal Waterway. It is not uncommon, especially in the warmer seasons, to see boats traversing the channel as you line up a putt or tee shot.
Of this stretch of holes, the best is the downhill par-three 14th. The green, angled from front-left to back-right, is perched above the Waterway and presents relatively little room for bailout but does offer one of the best inland views on any Myrtle Beach-area golf course.
For all the potential quibbles about the golf course, the practice facility is one of the best at the Beach and the place is always in very good to excellent condition. Management very wisely abandoned the former bentgrass greens in the summer of 2012 in favor of Champion Bermuda, which means they will be able to play firm and fast throughout the year.
The clubhouse, opulent though it may be, is excellent, with a dining room with a great menu and broad views of the 9th, 10th and 18th holes. The locker rooms are well-appointed and the pro shop has all you need. To boot, the staff are of the quality one would expect at a top resort golf facility: friendly, knowledgeable and efficient.
Grande Dunes Resort Club’s golf course has been rated as one of the top hundred public-accessible courses in the country. Given that, it is decidedly overrated. This does not make it a bad golf course or experience by any means, as the facilities and the setting are very, very nice. It is worth playing on most any trip to the central Grand Strand; it just isn’t the undisputed champ. And that’s okay.