While the likes of the Barefoot Resort courses, Grande Dunes, TPC of Myrtle Beach and the Dunes Golf and Beach Club are excellent, they are not the be-all, end-all of Grand Strand golf. The following three courses could be considered Myrtle Beach’s “hidden gems”—courses well worth the time to seek out and even more worth their modest green fee.
Heathland Course at Legends Resort
Tom Doak, whose Renaissance Golf Design firm is one of the most well-known in the world at the moment, left his traditional and uncompromising signature on the Heathland Course at Legends Resort. It stands in great contrast to many of Myrtle Beach’s golf courses, which sometimes feature enormous and artificial-looking shaping. Heathland is not pancake-flat by any means, but it reflects Doak’s more minimalistic design philosophy that permits of some wild features, but all of them are in play and fun to engage with over the course of a round. Heathland’s standout holes include the par five 7th hole, an homage to the Road Hole at St. Andrews and the brawny par four 16th, featuring a double fairway split by a narrow but imposing stream. The best part: you can play the Heathland course for less than $50 throughout most of the year.
Avocet Course at Wild Wing Plantation
Whereas Doak’s effort at Legends is more minimalistic, the Avocet Course, designed by three-time major champion Larry Nelson and former American Society of Golf Course Architects president Jeff Brauer is quite the opposite. But the extent of the inventive shaping and mounding at Avocet sets it apart from others, bringing some of its holes to an artistic level. The best of these is the par four 14th hole, one of Myrtle Beach’s true drivable two-shotters. The country between tee and green is dotted with mounds and pot bunkers such that there are half a dozen different ways to play the hole. And as relatively inexpensive as Avocet is to play, there’s opportunity to play it a few times and get the hang of it.
The Witch Golf Links
Dan Maples designed a number of courses up and down the Myrtle Beach area, but his best is The Witch, located a bit off the beaten path but well worth the trip to play. Its tee markers are culled from the surrounding inland wetlands: painted cypress “knees” that stick up out of the swamp water that surrounds much of the front nine. That first half of the course lends a sense of splendid isolation, with two long, fun par fives carved out of dense forest. The back nine is more intimate and closer together while nonetheless maintaining the adventuresome overall vibe of the golf course. To add to The Witch’s appeal, greens fees tend to hover in the $40-60 range for much of the shoulder and off-seasons.