The Dunes Golf & Beach Club was the overwhelming choice of area PGA professionals as Myrtle Beach’s No. 1 golf course. While being regarded as the best course in Myrtle Beach is an honor that carries significant weight, the appeal of the Dunes Club extends far beyond the Grand Strand. It is a nationally renowned layout, ranked among the top 100 public courses by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine. The Dunes Club has hosted the U.S. Women’s Open, six Senior PGA Tour Championships, and the finals of the PGA Tour’s Q-School (Gary McCord and Ben Crenshaw earned their cards there), among other high profile events.
With that in mind, here are five things you need to know about the Robert Trent Jones Sr. course before teeing it up:
— As much as any course in the market, the Dunes Club is responsible for Myrtle Beach’s meteoric rise from sleepy beach town to being the nation’s most popular golf destination. For more than 50 years, the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA) came to Myrtle Beach to play their annual tournament, a junket highlighted by the final round at the Dunes Club. The GWAA event was always held the week before the Masters, and after the scribes returned from covering the tournament, they began extolling the virtues of the Dunes Club and, by extension Myrtle Beach. That’s how it all started.
— Speaking of the GWAA, the organization’s annual tournament also helped turn the Dunes Club’s 13th hole – Waterloo – into a nationally recognized challenge. The 90-degree dogleg right is the site of a plaque commemorating the 22 Charles Bartlett, a writer for the Chicago Tribune, made without ever losing a ball or taking a penalty stroke (don’t ask how that’s possible). The iconic 13th hole provides an unforgettable conclusion to Alligator Alley, a dramatic trio of holes that includes the par 4 11th and par 3 12th, both playing along Singleton Swash.
— Alligator Alley and the back nine attract much of the attention, but what makes the Dunes Club a top 100 design is the strength of the front side. The course opens with a trio of demanding par 4s before giving way to a risk-reward par 5, setting the stage for a bucket list round.
— Legendary architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed or rebuilt more than 400 courses, including major championship hosts, and he believed the Dunes Club to be among his best work. His website calls out 11 of his best designs, and the Dunes Club figures prominently on that list, taking its spot alongside Spyglass Hill, Valderrama and Hazeltine, among others. The greatest testament to the quality of the layout is how little it has changed since its 1949 opening. Rees Jones, the son of RTJ, has returned to do work but the integrity of the course remains intact.
— The biggest challenge at the Dunes Club begins around the greens. They are undulating, fast and full of character. Throw in the fact the putting surfaces are elevated and often protected by bunkers, and your short game better be sharp if you are going to conquer the layout PGA pros regard as Myrtle Beach’s best.