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Story by Ian Guerin
Golf was always meant to be an outdoor game. As such, the elements are always going to affect playability.
In Myrtle Beach, that frequently leads to great spring and fall availability, and mostly favorable conditions during the winter by comparison to other parts of the country. But what about the hottest months of the year? Well, there’s no reason temperatures topping 90 degrees on a near-daily basis should equate to the clubs going in storage.
South Carolina’s Grand Strand has a large number of courses where the layouts were built throughout magnificent tree lines offering some shade. What’s more, many of them are situated in natural breezeways that give players some reprieve from the summer heat.
ARROWHEAD COUNTRY CLUB, MYRTLE BEACH
Split between three nines - Cypress, Lakes and Waterway - Ray Floyd and Tom Jackson’s Arrowhead design takes advantage of both great traits. The course is tucked into the corridor just south of U.S. 501 along the Intracoastal Waterway, where its development and some housing took the place of the predominant forest from back in the day. Throughout the round, and regardless of which nine you’re teeing off on, Arrowhead’s trees take a major edge off even a mid-day trek.
SOUTHCREEK COURSE AT MYRTLE BEACH NATIONAL, MYRTLE BEACH
Much like Arrowhead, the entire Myrtle Beach National complex was once the tree-laden section of land separating the county seat of Conway from the hustle of Myrtle Beach. Now, SouthCreek (and its partner courses, the King’s North and West courses) is a hotbed of golf without all the heat. For every hole that tees off under the sun, another is shaded. The same goes for SouthCreek’s fairways and greens. It’s led to some of the most consistent turf in all of the Myrtle Beach area without a steep price tag.
PALMETTO COURSE AT MYRTLEWOOD GOLF CLUB, MYRTLE BEACH
Of the five options here, this could be considered the one with the lowest amount of tree coverage at certain points during the round. But two items bumped Myrtlewood’s Palmetto Course into this list. For starters, pace of play matters - no one wants to be cooking under the sun for five hours - and Palmetto is one of the fastest around at getting players on and off the course. Secondly, the centrally located course is drawing the winds from not only the nearby Intracoastal Waterway on the west side of the property, but also the open chute of U.S. 17 to the east.
PAWLEYS PLANTATION GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB, PAWLEYS ISLAND
Jack Nicklaus’ stunning layout at Pawleys Plantation came with a caveat between it and the accompanying low-lying marshlands along the oceanside portion of the property. With only a few acres separating it from the Atlantic, and without much in the way of stopping the breeze, the crisp ocean air permeates throughout. Those winds can affect play - no more than on the ultra-famous, ultra-short No. 13 - but combined with some of the most magnificent centuries old live oaks around, the round here is about as comfortable as it gets.
TRUE BLUE GOLF CLUB, PAWLEYS ISLAND
Designer Mike Strantz was deemed more of an artist than a golf architect. True Blue is the embodiment of that belief. With his True Blue layout, which opened in 1998, the land change was minimized. Only the trees that absolutely had to go were removed, and the wetlands of the former plantation land were incorporated. Essentially, he didn’t fight Mother Nature, and she has rewarded visitors for what has been the next two decades. The combination of tree cover and open air acts as a central air conditioning unit for one of the Myrtle Beach area’s top courses.