Given the sheer size of the palette of golf choices on offer in the Myrtle Beach area, there is a natural, general order that emerges, whereby courses can be grouped by relative caliber. There is always spirited debate to be had as to which course is better than which in certain tiers, but the tiers themselves are fairly well defined, for the most part.
These four golf courses are the reason why the last line says, “for the most part.” They are definite sleeper courses, which many golfers have plenty of reason to declare to be in the top tier, despite their usual second tier-type billing.
Avocet Course at Wild Wing Plantation
This track, laid out by Jeff Brauer and three-time major champion Larry Nelson, has—pardon the pun—always flown under the radar. It is a thoroughly modern-looking layout, with extensive and inventive mounding all over the place. Yet, Brauer and Nelson managed to insert a few throwback touches, like the Redan par-3 12th hole and the drivable par-4 14th, which is one of the best single holes on the Grand Strand. The 6th and 17th, which share a huge double-green, are not too shabby either.
Parkland Course at Legends Resort
The Heathland Course at the resort gets much of the press—with good reason—but the Parkland is an extremely strong companion. It exhibits much of what makes the Heathland fun—big, undulating greens, scary-looking bunkers and plenty of width—but with a few more trees. There is also some water, like on the beguiling par-3 sixth hole, where the 50-yard long green falls away toward a pond immediately behind. It is an unusual placement for a hazard, and it messes with the player’s mind, but in a good way.
Prestwick Country Club
It is odd that a course designed by Pete and P.B. Dye should be a sleeper in its immediate area, but there you have it. This course has all of the Dye trademarks: sharp mounding, undulating greens and a railroad ties in profusion. The closing holes on both nines are also classic Dye: a long par five and a long par four, respectively, that bend around either side of a long, oval-shaped lake. Dye builds these sorts of holes in many settings because they work. Prestwick works. Put it on your radar.
Long Bay Club
One of two Jack Nicklaus Signature golf courses in the Myrtle Beach area, Long Bay Club is a bit farther afield than some Grand Strand courses, but it is worth driving six miles up Highway 9 and checking out. Highlights include the island-green 13th, as well as the iconic short par-4 10th, with its fairway practically surrounded by a gigantic sandy waste area. Mounds abound at this course that will enter its second quarter-century of operation in 2014.