Five years ago, MBN.com unveiled a series highlighting the Monsters of Myrtle Beach golf, four designers who were involved in designing approximately one-third of all the courses along South Carolina’s Grand Strand and its neighbors just across the North Carolina border.
We’re revisiting that package in a new way, breaking down the 12 best holes here from Willard Byrd, Gene Hamm, Tom Jackson and Dan Maples.
In this edition, we’re choosing some of the top holes from Byrd. While dipping back and forth across the state line, he made his debut in 1966 with Litchfield County Club and then returned in the late 1980s with a flurry of designs.
Here are 12 of our favorite Byrd holes.
Sea Trail, No. 3
There’s a reason this doozy is among the toughest holes on the entire course, regardless of handicap. The 445-yard Par 5 is short, but it’s also home to one of the more unforgiving waste bunkers around. That sand is placed to highlight the full 90-degree dogleg on the back half of the hole.
Lion’s Paw, No. 5
This ultra-creative Par 4 spans a cool 399 yards. But distance isn’t what makes it so notable. Off the tee, players are forced to hit a landing area that is boxed in by water, a large waste bunker and thick grass. From there, it’s an 80-degree turn to the green.
Indigo Creek, No. 5
A dead-straight and not-so-long Par 4, this 380-yard hole is crafted and should be played with the large natural grass area in mind. Even medium range hitters could flirt with reaching it with a good roll off the drive. Either way, carrying it with the drive is a disaster waiting to happen and probably shouldn’t be tested.
International Club, No. 8
If you’re ever going to muscle up and try something you normally wouldn’t, the 309-yard Par 4 at International is the place to go for it. The ever-so-slight dogleg left is a cutter’s dream, as it not only shortens the hole, but it keeps you away from the real trouble, a large bunker parked in the fairway up the right side. (International Club 8th hole pictured right)
Brunswick Plantation, Magnolia, No. 9
The dogleg left jumps into play at the 150 marker, meaning the majority of players here are looking at less than 200 yards off the tee. Most will attempt to cut some of the corner, and it’s a safe try all things considered. Muscle up and go for broke.
Indigo Creek, No. 9
Like the natural grass area on No. 5, the front-side finisher has another one. The patch of trouble on the 515-yard hole can be carried off the second shot with a bit more confidence, but that doesn’t take into account the eight micro bunkers on the tail end. It’s a hole unlike any other at Indigo.
International Club, No. 11
The short par 3 early on the back nine is all of just 128 yards from the white tees. It’s a great embodiment of accuracy topping length at International. Players must get up and down in a hurry to avoid not only the three green side bunkers, but also the pond that ensnares 270 degrees of the green. (International Club 11th hole pictured right)
Sea Trail, No. 13
Another Par 5 we love, the 13th at Sea Trail chimes in at 494 yards from the whites. Take a good look at the overhead view of the hole before teeing off, as the pair of fairway bunkers appear even from the tee. If you can avoid those, you at least give yourself a good look at the second shot, a layup for most.
Litchfield Country Club, No. 15
There isn’t a ton of water at Litchfield, but Byrd brought some of it into play in sneaky fashion. That goes for the 330-yard Par 4 15th. A tiny sliver of a pond quietly cuts into the final stretches of the fairway, leaving players so focused on the fairway unaware that it’s prepared to swallow up its share of shots. (Litchfield Country Club 15th top photo)
Lion’s Paw, No. 17
A truly unique Par 3, the green on 17th at Lion’s Paw is enclosed by a horseshoe-shaped pond that only the sliver of the false front of the green unencumbered by water. Inside the horseshoe, there’s also a bunker on the front left of the putting surface and some backboard mounding.
Litchfield Country Club, No. 18
By now, you’ve figured out how much Byrd loved his doglegs, a product of making the land at his disposal fit his needs. The finisher at Litchfield is a great example, as his dogleg right unveils a fairway bunker smack dab in futon of a pond, then, two green-side bunkers on either side of the putting surface. (Litchfield Country Club 18th pictured right)
Lockwood Folly, No. 18
For an area that doesn’t have many options to play alongside the Atlantic, Lockwood Folly’s finisher is the next best thing. The second half of the 453-yard Par 5 opens up and feeds you directly into contact with the edge of the Lockwood Folly River.
WILLARD BYRD’S GRAND STRAND DESIGNS
Course: Litchfield Country Club
City: Pawleys Island
Year opened: 1966
Notable: Byrd was hired to craft Litchfield 10 years after he moved to Atlanta and founded his design group, Willard C. Byrd and Associates. Litchfield is recognized as the first stay-and-play option south of Myrtle Beach city limits.
Course: Lockwood Folly Country Club
City: Supply, N.C.
Year opened: 1988
Notable: Lockwood Folly includes holes along its namesake river, as well as the Intracoastal Waterway. That’s important because of the amount of water that is prevalent throughout the course itself. All those ponds make the 6,100 yards from the whites feel slightly longer.
Course: Sea Trail Golf Club, Byrd Course
City: Sunset Beach, N.C.
Year opened: 1990
Notable: Big water, doglegs, massive bunker complexes and a few forced carries are the name of the game at Byrd’s Sea Trail layout. Taking your time to think through a course that puts such a premium on clean shots will do wonders for your scorecard. (Sea Trail Byrd 13th pictured right)
Course: Indigo Creek Golf Club
City: Murrells Inlet
Year Opened: 1990
Notable: Indigo Creek staved off elimination in the late 2000s with a massive beautification project that improved fairways and putting surfaces while updating the clubhouse and practice areas.
Course: Lion’s Paw Golf Links
City: Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.
Year opened: 1991
Notable: With water in play on 15 of the 18 holes and some of Byrd’s most creative work on 18 holes, Lion’s Paw is a nifty challenge at times while throwing players a bone at others. Expressed use of mounding and bunkers helps keep the fairway in perspective throughout.
Course: Brunswick Plantation Resort & Golf
City: Calabash, N.C.
Year opened: 1992
Notable: A package with Clyde Johnston, Brunswick is split between the Azalea, Dogwood and Magnolia 9s. Each of the three feel a little different than its sister 9s, something that provides for distinct looks depending on which two you’re playing and which pin locations are utilized.
Course: Wild Wing Plantation, Hummingbird Course
Year opened: 1992
Notable: Once part of a four-course mega facility, Hummingbird was scaled back along with the former Wood Stork 18 into a nine-hole add-on or quick-play option. The current Hummingbird track includes some of Byrd’s holes from the original.
Course: Meadowlands Golf Club
City: Calabash, N.C.
Year opened: 1997
Notable: A joint effort with David Thompson, Meadowlands includes just enough of a terrain difference to create some rolling fairways and even a couple of semi-blind tee shots. Some of Byrd’s best framing work in the area was done here. (Meadowlands 2nd hole pictured right)
Course: International Club
City: Murrells Inlet
Year opened: 2000
Notable: Opened just four years prior to Byrd’s death, International takes advantage of underwater streams and its finger lakes on the southern edge of Horry County to keep water levels accurate year-round and hold top-notch conditions.