Myrtle Beach is known as “GolfTown USA” thanks in part to the nearly 100 golf courses within a 60-mile radius of the Grand Strand. But long before the golf boom, there was only one layout that carried the banner for Myrtle Beach golf – Pine Lakes International Country Club.
Pine Lakes was the first course in Myrtle Beach, and for more than two decades it was the only place to play. Opened in 1927 as part of the Ocean Forest Hotel development, Pine Lakes has stood the test of time. While dozens of more modern courses have followed, Pine Lakes remains one of the Strand's best layouts.
Commonly called “The Granddaddy” for its distinction as the course that started it all for Myrtle Beach golf, Pine Lakes is the handiwork of Scotland native and famed golf architect Robert White. His goal of building a European-style links course similar to St. Andrews Royal & Ancient was a difficult challenge trying to incorporate features from the Scottish Highlands to the South Carolina Lowcountry.
But the project proved to be a success as vacationers from the Northeast flocked to the Ocean Forest Hotel and the golf course. When the hotel closed, Pine Lakes remained and made its mark on golf history. The historic clubhouse was the site of Time Inc. executives launched an upstart magazine called “Sports Illustrated” and numerous national golf publications have placed Pine Lakes atop its lists.
Years of play eventually took its toll on the old layout, and when the course sold to Burroughs & Chapin it was due for an extreme makeover. B&C implemented a $15 million redesign and modernization project in 2006, but the plan called for maintaining the course's classic construction and the original craftsmanship. The antebellum-style clubhouse was renovated to serve as a bit of a museum for the Myrtle Beach golf industry, and the changes were well received by members and players alike.
Today Pine Lakes epitomizes the Grand Strand golf scene, taking Southern charm and hospitality to the next level. Players are treated to mimosas and a hot cup of seafood chowder during their rounds, and kilt-clad workers go the extra mile to make your experience a memorable one. The improved grounds and increased playability of the course has breathed new life into Pine Lakes as one of the Strand's most popular places to play.
The renovation project included the removal of two holes to allow a new access road, Granddaddy Drive, to connect Robert Grissom Parkway to the course, although the original exit off Woodside Drive is also available. Sixteen of the original holes were preserved while two new ones were created to blend seamlessly with the old layout. New landscaping, bunkers and distance were added to the course to bring the length up to 6,675 yards from the championship tees.
The signature hole is the par-3 11th, 155 yards over water to a small green. The toughest hole is No. 3, a 463-yard, par-4 brute that plays into a green guarded by water. Otherwise, the course is fairly straight forward and puts the onus on the players to make or break their rounds – just one of the many features that have helped Pine Lakes stand the test of time.
It’s that historic charm that keeps generations of golfers coming back for more – the older set to take a stroll down memory lane of Myrtle Beach’s first layout, and the younger generation to experience a true test of golf in a scenic Lowcountry setting. For many players, no golf trip to Myrtle Beach is complete without a round at the Granddaddy.