The Palmetto Course – with its finish along the Intracoastal Waterway and 2019 renovation – attracts most of the attention at Myrtlewood Golf Club, but ask Myrtle Beach locals and many will tell you they think PineHills is at least its equal.
The Arthur Hills designed PineHills underwent its own, equally successful, renovation in 2018 and is renowned for the quality of its Sunday bermudagrass greens and playability. PineHills measures 6,640 yards from the tips and a very manageable 6,112 yards from the white tees, so players will have ample opportunities to score.
Don’t conflate playability with ease. PineHills will test your game and here are three holes you need to have at the very least, a healthy respect, if not fear, for:
— A quick glance at the scorecard reveals the third hole (pictured right) is a 482-yard par 5 (all distances from the white tees), so it doesn’t immediately scream danger, but it is fraught with trouble. Water lurks on the right side, factoring significantly into your first two shots. Drift to far left and soaring pine trees could impede your path to an elevated green protected by a large bunker along the port side. Compounding the challenge, the landing area for your second shot is tight. The preferred approach is from the right side, allowing you to minimize the threat of the bunker, but the water looms. This is a tough test that demands precision.
— If you survive three, don’t get too comfortable because No. 4,(top photo) despite what the scorecard tells you, will cause your palms to sweat. According to the USGA, the par 3 fourth hole is only the course’s 15th most difficult – no way that’s right. The pin is almost always on the right side of the green, meaning you have to cross water that runs to the edge of the putting surface on a 172-yard hole. That’s a long carry. You can miss to the left but you don’t want to be blasting out of a bunker back down toward the flag (and the water). If there are 14 holes at PineHills harder than this one, I’m Dustin Johnson. Seriously.
— The final hole at PineHills might be its best. The 374-yard 18th (pictured right) is a dogleg right that offers substantial advantage to players that challenge corner of the dogleg, which is dotted with five bunkers. It will take a 210+ yard drive to clear the sand and find the fairway, but the reward is a much friendlier angle of approach, allowing you to reduce the threat of the water on the left. A safer tee shot, leaves players in the middle left portion fairway but it’s a substantially longer approach and you will have to cross the water. It’s a knee-knocking shot with little bailout room (there is only 13 yards between the bunker defending the right front of the green and the water, leaving little room for balls to come up short). The challenge is substantial and absolutely fair, which is all you can ask of a course.
PineHills isn’t Myrtle Beach’s toughest test, but don’t let all the talk of playability fool you. The course, highlighted by holes 3, 4 and 18, will challenge you.