The Myrtle Beach golf scene encompasses 60 miles of Carolina coastline that stretches from Pawleys Island to just across the state line in Brunswick County, North Carolina.
While Myrtle Beach is golf’s most popular destination, the 20+ courses that call Brunswick County home are often overlooked when discussing the area’s many virtues.
Why is the Tar Heel side of the state line overlooked?
The biggest factor is this: fewer people stay there. There are condos at Crow Creek, Brunswick Plantation and Sea Trail Resort but most players are in and out after one round and spend most of their time south of the state line.
That’s understandable but there is a lot of great golf in Brunswick County and here is what you can expect to find in Calabash, Sunset Beach and the surrounding communities:
Rivers Edge, an Arnold Palmer design playing along the Shallotte River, is among the Grand Strand’s prettiest courses. The par 5 No. 9 (top photo) is also one of the area’s most, ahem, discussed holes and the finishing stretch along the river is unforgettable. It’s a long drive to Rivers Edge but one every Myrtle Beach golfer has to make at least once.
Oyster Bay is a Dan Maples-designed beauty that is also home to some of the area’s largest alligators. From island greens to unforgettable par 4s, Oyster Bay has long been one of Brunswick County and Myrtle Beach’s finest.
The links-inspired Thistle Golf Club is home to 27 holes and the area’s premier clubhouse. Thistle (pictured right) lacks the views offered by Rivers Edge and Oyster Bay but it’s always in superior condition and the design is a treat to play.
Crow Creek is one of the best values along the Grand Strand. Like Thistle, it doesn’t offer those stunning coastal vistas but it’s an outstanding track. Crow Creek is a local’s favorite and your group will like it too.
There is only one drawback to Carolina National, a 27-hole Fred Couples facility – it’s a long drive. This is the northernmost course that calls the Myrtle Beach golf scene home, but the holes playing along the Lockwood Folly River make it worth the ride. Pre-book 27 holes and make a day of it.
Could Be An A-Lister If …
Tiger’s Eye and Leopard’s Chase, located at Ocean Ridge Plantation, are outstanding Tim Cate designs. Both courses are worthy of being included among the A-listers; the only thing holding them back are struggles with conditioning over the last 12-18 months. Early reports from this spring are positive, though I haven’t been there to confirm. If the reports prove accurate, Tiger’s Eye (pictured right) and Leopard’s Chase will deliver great golf and value.
Outstanding Package Courses
The Pearl closed nine holes and is now home to the East, West and North nines. With multiple holes playing along the Calabash River and a varied layout, the Pearl offers natural beauty and a fun layout to play.
Golf is a difficult game in the best of times, but Sandpiper Bay places an emphasis on playability. If Sandpiper, yet another 27-hole facility, is on your itinerary you can arrive at the course knowing an enjoyable round and the chance to score awaits.
The par 6, 18th hole at Farmstead, (pictured right) understandably, attracts all the attention, but this is a good course from start to finish, and the layout is complemented by quality conditions and customer service. This is on my personal list of the area’s underrated courses.
So you are wondering about the Byrd, Jones and Maples courses at Sea Trail, in addition to Lion’s Paw and Panther’s Run? Your faithful correspondent needs to make a long-awaited return to Sea Trail to check out its trio of courses because the idea of staying-and-playing on-site is appealing. As for the Ocean Ridge courses – Lion’s Paw and Panther’s Run – both are potentially outstanding package courses, assuming conditioning returns to where it has been historically.
Bottom Line: There is a lot of outstanding, and too often underrated, golf in Brunswick County.