Mark Twain once referred to golf as “a good walk spoiled.” He obviously never teed it up in Myrtle Beach, where the coastal Carolina terrain provides a lovely view no matter how badly you play.
With more than 80 championship courses located within a 60-mile stretch of pristine shoreline known as the Grand Strand, the natural beauty of the area is on full display with a diverse range of scenic settings. From courses right on the ocean to deep in the maritime forests, and from the South Carolina Lowcountry to the North Carolina sandhills, the Grand Strand offers grand landscapes.
That’s why picking the prettiest layouts to play can be a lot like choosing your favorite children (they’re all good, but some received the best of both parental traits). Narrowing the list down to a handful is hard, but these five courses stand out when it comes to the scenery around the greens.
Arriving on a tree-lined road that ends at the beautiful antebellum-style clubhouse, Caledonia makes an instant impression that you are somewhere special. The former rice and indigo plantation exudes Southern charm and hospitality, and that vibe continues throughout your round with ancient live oaks, Lowcountry swamps and bustling wildlife around every corner. Late designer Mike Strantz built this masterpiece to accentuate the scenery.
It’s a rare opportunity to play golf “on the beach” and this famous layout is just the place to do it. As the second-oldest layout in Myrtle Beach, the Dunes Club harkens back to a time when one could afford to build a golf course on such prime oceanfront real estate. The famed Robert Trent Jones sculpted the links out of rolling dunes and old-growth forest to create an amazing maze through tidal creeks and towering trees.
You don’t have to be a member of Arnie’s Army to make the short trek over the Carolina border to check out this gem. Built on the bluffs overlooking the Shallotte River, this Arnold Palmer creation provides a serene setting that’s ideal for golf. Located about 30 miles north of Myrtle Beach in Shallotte, NC, Rivers Edge is far enough north and inland that you can see more fall colors and elevation changes.
Built along the banks of the tea-colored waters of the Waccamaw River, The Heritage Club holds a special place in history and the hearts of nature-lovers. Designed by Dan Maples on a former rice plantation near Pawleys Island, The Heritage Club offers breath-taking views of the South Carolina Lowcountry and a tough test of golf, including the picturesque but punishing finishing hole. Pray to stay dry for a birdie while watching birds of prey splash down for their dinner.
If you love water, you’ve come to the right place. Nestled on a scenic strip of land along the Intracoastal Waterway and Cherry Grove Inlet, Tidewater offers spectacular views as well as a challenging layout, courtesy of designer Ken Tomlinson. With natural water hazards seemingly at every turn, Tidewater lives up to its nickname as “The Pebble Beach of the East” with tidal creeks, salt marshes and beautiful coastal landscapes.
Add one of these scenic courses to your itinerary for your next Myrtle Beach golf vacation, and be sure to keep your cellphone charged. Your best shots may be with a camera rather than your club.