Myrtle Beach’s Final Four of Golf Courses

So what's your Final Four? Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin and Michigan State?

No, not that Final Four. We're talking about the Final Four of Myrtle Beach golf courses. Every bracket is a winner when you take the top 100 or so courses, match them up head to head and end up with the top four layouts on the Grand Strand.

No matter what your picks look like, every golfer is a winner in this office pool. But after many matchups, close calls and buzzer-beaters, here's our Final Four of the greens and fairways instead of the hoops and hardwood by regions:

* East: The Dunes Golf & Beach Club is a long-running powerhouse, much like Kentucky or Duke. Virtually every list of the Grand Strand's top golf courses includes this 66-year-old layout located on the oceanfront of Myrtle Beach.

An oldie but a goody, The Dunes Club remains one of the best courses on the Strand with a design that has stood the best of time. Famed architect Robert Trent Jones broke the mold when he built this layout on the Myrtle Beach coast.

Featuring well-designed holes carved out of the maritime forests and pristine wetlands, The Dunes Club offers a diverse terrain and scenic backdrop for a challenging round of golf. Several professional tournaments have been held here, and the course received a major makeover a few years ago to bring it up to par.

* South: Located in the historic town of Pawleys Island, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club offers a course that is as challenging to play as it is beautiful to behold.

Built on a former rice and indigo plantation, this beautiful piece of Lowcountry landscape now serves as one of the Strand's highest rated layouts, and for good reason. The masterful design was the first solo project by Mike Strantz, and he aced the test with a layout that blends seamlessly with the natural surroundings.

Golfers arrive by driving down a narrow lane lined with twisting live oaks draped with Spanish moss as a charming, antebellum-style clubhouse appears in the distance. The rest is a lovely ride and a difficult test for golfers of all skill levels. No matter your score, the experience of playing Caledonia is a slam dunk.

* North: Located on the extreme northern end of the Grand Strand, Rivers Edge Golf Club is our version of Wisconsin: It's way up there but well worth the trip.

Designed by legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, this layout runs along the bluffs of the Shallotte River in North Carolina. The beautiful location combined with the quality craftsmanship creates a course that is fun to play and lovely to admire.

True to Palmer's famed game, Rivers Edge requires golfers to use every club in the bag and trick in the book. The tidal creeks that flow into the river and the rolling hills along the banks require players to avoid water hazards and handle the elevation changes to play a solid round and escape with a decent score.

* West: The Grand Strand's elongated geography requires us to define the “West” bracket as courses on the inland side of the Intracoastal Waterway. The winner of this region, the Barefoot Golf Resort's Dye Course, is barely over the border.

Built along the banks of the Waterway by famed designer Pete Dye, this layout is home to several big tournaments, including the popular Hootie & The Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am. The clubhouse and course are ideal.

Featuring rolling berms and elevation changes, the Dye Course plays through the dense woodlands and scenic wetlands often found along the Waterway. The layout makes full use of these natural hazards to create a stiff challenge and an enjoyable round.

So that's how our Final Four stacks up, and trying to narrow the list any further is as difficult and exciting as the Final Four itself. Feel free to make and play your own list, because everyone’s a winner in this tourney.

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