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What’s in a name? Myrtle Beach’s Perfect Round Designers List Says It All

Story by Ian Guerin

The results are in, and Myrtle Beach’s Perfect Round project speak to an underlying truth more often than not.

Some golf course architects have something most others do not.

The series, orchestrated by Myrtle Beach Trips with the help of the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel, selected the 18 best holes in the area. Of those 18, all but two fall under the umbrellas of six designers - Mike Strantz, Robert Trent Jones, Pete Dye, Ken Tomlinson, Tom Fazio and Dan Maples.

“It’s the cream rising to the top,” TPC of Myrtle Beach head golf professional Matt Daly said after two his course’s holes made the cut. “You look at your big designers down here - Fazio, Jones, Dan Maples. They’re reputable and popular for a reason. They know how to work the land. This course here, it was built on a great track of land. Fazio had a lot of room to imagine the wetlands and the woodlands. Most of the courses in Myrtle Beach were built on a great track where [the designers] could let their imaginations run wild.”

The basis of those creative juices and exactly how some of the biggest names in the sport’s foundation arose has been well documented. Some learned the family business; others transitioned after playing careers.

And some of them learned from each other while finding their own legacies.

Strantz, who had three of his holes at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and another at True Blue Golf Plantation earn spots in the Perfect Round, previously studied under Tom Fazio, whose design at TPC spurred an early PGA Championship event in 2000.

Robert Trent Jones (Dunes Golf & Beach Club) brought in a young Roger Rulewich to help build his esteemed golf trail in Alabama before Rulewich went on to form his own company, one that was responsible for the Grande Dunes Resort Course and its Perfect Round dignified No. 14.

Pete Dye teamed up with his son, P.B., at Prestwick Country Club and then laid out the Dye Club at Barefoot Resort & Golf. Maples, who designed more courses around Myrtle Beach in the 1980s than another other architect, had one hole each picked from his Heritage Club and Willbrook Plantation courses.

Jack Nicklaus’ career both playing and designing, including his Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club, speak for themselves. If there is an anomaly to the group, it is Tidewater Golf’s Ken Tomlinson, the one-time designer who went back to his day job after crafting the stellar North Myrtle Beach track.

But more often than not, the connections between great golf layouts - either by architect or patterning or personality - can be linked to others.

“You see these young architects are apprentices of others. They weren’t architects yet, but worked for those who were in the golf boom in the 80s and 90s and even the 70s,” Dunes head pro Dennis Nicholl said. “Even in the Myrtle Beach, we have our own little micro-environments. [The courses point to] the era they were built in, and what players think is great and what isn’t,”

 

PERFECT ROUND COURSE DESIGNERS

PETE AND P.B. DYE

Perfect Round selections: Barefoot Resort & Golf Dye Club No. 9; Prestwick Country Club Nos. 9, 18

Other Grand Strand designs: Legends Golf & Resort Moorland Course (P.B. Dye)

Notable: Pete and P.B. Dye are known individually, but their combined effort at Prestwick Country Club is a rare combination, especially in South Carolina. Meanwhile, the Dye Course at Barefoot opened just months before Pete’s 75th birthday in 2000.

 

TOM FAZIO

Perfect Round selections: TPC of Myrtle Beach Nos. 3, 18

Other Grand Strand designs: Barefoot Resort and Golf Fazio Course

Notable: By now, TPC hosting the 2000 Senior PGA Championship is common knowledge. What many don’t realize is that it was suppose to hold the event the year before. However, shortly after opening, TPC sustained extensive tree damage caused by Hurricane Floyd, and the club took some extra time to ensure it was in tip-top shape.

 

ROBERT TRENT JONES

Perfect Round selections: Dunes Golf & Beach Club Nos. 11, 12, 13

Other Grand Strand designs: None

Notable: His name synonymous with the game now, Robert Trent Jones was a lesser known designer when the original nine holes at Dunes opened in 1949 (with the other half debuting a year later). Sandwiched around the Dunes’ arrival was Jones’ role crafting two holes at Augusta National.

 

DAN MAPLES

Perfect Round selections: Willbrook Plantation No. 1; Heritage Club No. 14

Other Grand Strand designs: Man O’ War Golf Club; The Witch Golf Links; The Wizard Golf Club

Notable: In addition to his South Carolina designs, Maples is credited with several more just across the North Carolina border. In total, he was responsible for 10 layouts within 30 minutes of each other inside of 15 years.

 

JACK NICKLAUS

Perfect Round selections: Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club No. 18

Other Grand Strand designs: Long Bay Golf Club

Notable: Nicklaus owned a residence just off the 14th fairway at Pawleys Plantation for some time, and while he’s since sold it, the course remains every bit in his image to this day. Similarly, Long Bay’s somewhat difficult design opened just months prior from the debut of Pawleys Plantation.

 

ROGER RULEWICH GROUP

Perfect Round selections: Grande Dunes Resort Course No. 14

Other Grand Strand designs: None

Notable: Roger Rulewich is best known for his work in Alabama, where he served as the primary architect along the famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. It was there that he was responsible for designing more than 20 courses, many of which he followed up later with renovation projects.

 

MIKE STRANTZ

Perfect Round selections: Caledonia Golf & Fish Club Nos. 10, 12, 18; True Blue Golf Plantation No. 18

Other Grand Strand designs: None

Notable: Strantz shot out of the design cannon like so few before him when his first solo project, Caledonia, took the Myrtle Beach golf scene by storm. Just two years prior, however, he served temporarily as the director of design for Legends Golf & Resort’s Parkland Course, another notch in his resume that helped change the local landscape for years to come.

 

KEN TOMLINSON

Perfect Round selections: Tidewater Golf Nos. 4, 12

Other Grand Strand designs: None

Notable: Tomlinson is golf’s version of the Rain Maker. A tax attorney by trade, his one-and-done design at Tidewater (with an early boost from Rees Jones) has bucked several top-name architects from the top spot in Myrtle Beach golf ratings multiple times.


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