Many of the world’s great golf courses did not become so the day they opened. Such is the case of the Dunes Golf and Beach Club which, since its opening in 1948, has been refined over decades into an absolute gem, a superstar Myrtle Beach golf course. With golfers’ individual preferences as varied as snowflakes, it may not be everyone’s “favorite” golf course on the Grand Strand, but no one can deny its status one of the most important.
At just under 7,200 yards from the tips and with sets at 6,565 yards, 6,175 yards and 5,390 yards, respectively, any level of player will find an excellent challenge at the Dunes. Its dedicated membership enjoys a relatively low average handicap due to the ball-striking demands original architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and (in subsequent renovations) his son Rees crafted. The gorgeous natural setting—the course weaves among coastal forest out to an ocean view on the 9th hole and around coastal marshland on the back nine—captivates those who call the course home, as well as guests who are able to play the course after booking rounds through select local hotels.
The Dunes lacks a weak hole, but its four three-shot holes are absolutely stellar, with risk-reward opportunities at every turn. The first of them, the 505-yard fourth, is a dogleg-left with half a dozen bunkers and a pond factoring into the challenge. The decision process begins with the tee shot, with the first and second of those hazards sitting on the inside of the dogleg. In order to have a chance to go for the green in two, the player’s tee shot must carry them. From there, another great swing is required, as the putting surface is surrounded by four bunkers and fronted by the aforementioned pond. Even played with a mid- or long-iron after a smashed drive, such an approach requires guts. After three solid par fours to start, this hole gets the player’s heart pumping.
Any report on The Dunes Club would be remiss to neglect its most famous single hole, the par-five 13th, aptly dubbed “Waterloo.” The 590-yard hole is practically unreachable in two, but it still is fraught with danger and great risk-reward opportunity. The farther and closer to danger one chooses to hit a tee shot, the narrower the landing area becomes, bordered all the while by Lake Singleton on the right. However, a longer tee shot will yield an easier layup and, therefore, a reasonable birdie chance. Conservative play off the tee likely means a lengthy carry over the lake in order to leave a reasonably short approach to an elevated, well-protected green.
Every hole on the course has considerable merit, which makes it easy to understand The Dunes’ long pedigree of high-level competitive golf. From local and state-level tournaments to the U.S. Women’s Open and Senior Tour Championship, the course has challenged some of history’s greats and deserves its impressive rankings on numerous magazines’ best-course lists. Its more than 700 members and thousands of annual guests love it, and with good reason indeed.