Because it’s home to some 100 golf courses, the Myrtle Beach area is also home to practically every sort of feature one can find on an American golf course. These include big greens, small greens, wide fairways, bowling alley-narrow fairways, small pot bunkers, vast, sandy wastes and water hazards — lots of water hazards.
Yes, many of Myrtle Beach’s course layouts end up lightening golfers’ bags by the weight of three or four golf balls, but it’s all in good fun — and besides, there’s plenty more where those came from. If you’re running low, just head for the PGA Tour Superstore or Golfsmith and reload for your next round.
Here are the five main types of water hazards you’ll encounter on your Myrtle Beach golf vacation, as well as some of my favorite holes featuring them.
The Atlantic Ocean
Believe it or not, this largest of water hazards is only visible from one hole in Myrtle Beach: the par-3 9th at the famed Dunes Golf & Beach Club. And it doesn’t really even come into play. But it’s too big to ignore. After all, if you visit Myrtle Beach and never actually catch a glimpse of the ocean, you’ve missed out on something. So when you next visit, be sure to book a round at The Dunes through MyrtleBeachGolf.com.
The Intracoastal Waterway
Okay, now for the real Myrtle Beach water hazards — and the Intracoastal Waterway is a doozy. Built from 1930 to 1936, the stretch of the waterway from Little River in northern Horry County to its intersection with Socastee Creek south and west of Highway 544 was the last man-made portion of the “I.W.” to be finished. Today, it influences play on no fewer than 25 holes, from Arrowhead Country Club in the south to Brick Landing Plantation in the north. The most impressive stretch of Intracoastal Waterway-adjacent holes is found at Grande Dunes Resort Club, where on the par-3 14th, shots that miss the green to the right can end up in this majestic, wet feat of human engineering.
What Myrtle Beach lacks in true oceanside golf, it more than compensates for in gorgeous Lowcountry scenery. True Lowcountry golf needs wetlands, which attract not just occasional golf balls but an incredible range of bird species, as well as the occasional alligator. If you’re looking for wetlands with your golf on Myrtle Beach’s southern end, be sure to put Pawleys Plantation, Heritage Club and Caledonia Golf & Fish Club on your trip itinerary. Farther north, marshy layouts to consider include The Witch Golf Links, Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Tidewater Golf Club, Glen Dornoch, Oyster Bay and Rivers Edge Golf Club.
Both natural and man-made ponds come into play at most every golf course on Earth, including those in Myrtle Beach. Ranging from just a few square yards to many acres in size, they dominate the scene on many area par 3s, 4s and 5s, as well as on the Grand Strand’s only par-6 hole: the 18th at Farmstead Golf Links, which straddles the border between the Carolinas (players tee off in South Carolina and putt out in North Carolina). There, a pond guards the left side of the approach to the green and wraps around behind. Farther south, at the Dye Course at Barefoot Resort, a lake helps provide finishing-hole drama as it does at so many Pete Dye-designed layouts. Here, the 9th and 18th, both long par-4s, wrap around either side of a railroad tie-rimmed hazard. At Pine Lakes Country Club, Myrtle Beach’s oldest course, the short par-3 11th asks a classic question: Should you hit a short- ormid-iron over a pond to a green that slopes from back to front?
Strategically, creeks, streams and small rivers tend to be the most interesting sorts of water hazards found on golf courses. They present a psychological challenge in addition to the physical one: Despite their small size, they tend to loom much larger in a golfer’s psyche, especially when well-placed. After all, American professional golf’s most famous water hazard may well be Rae’s Creek, coming into play at crucial points at Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters. And in Myrtle Beach, a number of the best holes feature just such a hazard, including the replicas of Augusta’s 12th and 13th holes, located at International World Tour Golf Links. Elsewhere in Myrtle Beach, a cleverly placed man-made “burn” greatly affects play on the 16th hole at Tom Doak’s Heathland Course at Legends Resort. On the tee of this long par-4, players need to decide whether to play to the fairway left or right of this channel, and it is amazing how many tee shots end up smack in the middle of it.
No matter what water types of water hazard you favor, you will find multiple Myrtle Beach courses to satisfy your thirst for a challenge. Just be sure to book your tee times at MyrtleBeachGolf.com.