One of the first things visitors discover about the Myrtle Beach golf market is that is so much bigger than just the relatively small portion of it located inside city limits. The Grand Strand isn’t going to be confused for New York or L.A., but the reality is that all the cities and towns around Myrtle Beach make up a respectable chunk of land.
And that means tons of solid golf around the anchor.
Our two local experts, Chris King and Ian Guerin, took on a fantastic topic to debate: Which area outside Myrtle Beach city limits – the north or the south – is the leader in the clubhouse?
IAN GUERIN: Chris, it is up to us to decide which is better: The north end from North Myrtle Beach and Little River right up across the border into North Carolina, or the south side, where Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet have their own collection of beauties. And because I said so, you have to go first.
CHRIS KING: Pawleys Island, deservedly, attracts much of the attention but I’ll take the northern end of the Grand Strand. There are 33 courses between Barefoot Resort and Carolina National, including some of the Myrtle Beach area’s best. Tidewater, Barefoot, Long Bay Club and Rivers Edge are just a sampling of the outstanding layouts. The diversity of offerings from North Myrtle Beach onward appeals to me.
IG: Why did I know you were going to say that? Or maybe it’s that I just hoped? I don’t know. Either way, I’m glad you went that route, because I’ve fallen in love with South end golf too many times to count. The Waccamaw Golf Trail is always going to be headed up by Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and True Blue Golf Club, but add in Pawleys Plantation Golf and Country Club, Tradition Golf Club, Willbrook Plantation and River Club, and you’ve got something really special.
CK: I love the Waccamaw Golf Trail as well, but the North Strand courses offers more versatility for my money. Given that most of our traveling golfers are coming from north and west, courses like Aberdeen, Long Bay and all of the Brunswick County layouts are ideal for a day of arrival or departure round of golf. The quality of golf from North Myrtle Beach on is greatly underrated, IMO. That being said, there are few places in America that offer a cluster of courses as strong as those in Pawleys Island, Murrells Inlet and Litchfield.
IG: You can pander to the day-of crowd all you want, Chris. And while I’m no stranger to some of those awesome tracks up north, I’m just gonna keep coming at you like a spider monkey. TPC of Myrtle Beach (pictured right) is among the best courses in the 843 area code. There is also Heritage Club and Litchfield Country Club – the course that started it all for the south side back in 1966. Need diversity? How about Founders Club of Pawleys Island, the sand-riffic track that just got another facelift. I can do this all day, my friend.
CK: Tidewater, Thistle, Long Bay, Rivers Edge, Glen Dornoch, the Love, Fazio, Norman and Dye at Barefoot.(top photo) I can go on, too!! You have to drive a little further on the north end – admittedly an edge for the South Strand – but the list of memorable tracks is a long one.
IG: I think you’ve made your case for why this debate is even happening. No one would look at the north end and say “Ugh. What a collection of stiffs.” Still, what you mentioned is another huge selling point in my argument. Simply, while there may be actually fewer courses on the south side, I feel like their collective impression is higher. There are no duds. It’s quite the contrary.
CK: For most people, the North-South debate will be decided by a matter of preference. The South Strand features fewer courses but a higher concentration of legitimately outstanding layouts, minimizing travel time considerably. The North Strand has many more courses, including some of the region’s best, but they are dispersed over a larger area. I don’t mind the travel time and I appreciate the wide range of offerings up North, including the five 27-hole facilities (Aberdeen, Sandpiper Bay, Thistle, Pearl, Carolina National).
IG: Just the same, I’d hate for this to boil down to a quantity vs. quality debate. That wouldn’t be a fair assessment. So, if you’ve played the north and south sides of Myrtle Beach, we want to hear from you. Which direction are you heading?