Pete Dye was a design monster for decades, one of the preeminent architects who ever walked the earth.
Upon his passing in 2020, the New York Times referred to him as the “Picasso of Golf Course Design”. And we tend to agree that what he did was more art that game.
His ventures included two public offerings along South Carolina’s Grand Strand. Both Prestwick Country Club and the Dye Club at Barefoot Resort have proved their value for golfers looking for something special.
Prestwick opened its doors in 1989, a joint effort between Pete and P.B. Dye. The duo working together wasn’t a rarity; however, most of their combo projects, especially in South Carolina, were private courses. Prestwick was originally a semi-private track but has since abandoned that phrasing.
In 2000, the Dye Club helped launch Barefoot’s four-pack of high-end courses with its own semi-private label. It has served as the home for Darius Rucker’s Monday
After The Master’s event and is frequently seen as one of the more original layouts along the Grand Strand.
We tasked our two local experts, Chris King and Ian Guerin, with breaking down these two courses and what they love about them.
IG: Chris, I’m not even going to let you get the first word on this. I love everything about Prestwick. I’ve never had a bad round there, and it’s got nothing to do with my scoring. (I’m frequently struggling to keep it in the double digits.) But when I tee it up there, I instantly feel I’ve moved up in the world. The turf is lush, the renovated traps are tour quality and the sights are invigorating.
CK: I was just at Prestwick and can confirm it is indeed in the type of condition you describe. After the winter bulkhead work and the bunker they’ve added on the par 3 16th, golfers will be in for a treat this spring. The same can also be said of Barefoot’s Dye Course, Pete’s only solo effort along the Grand Stand. Both were ranked among Myrtle Beach’s top 10 courses by PGA professionals and the reasons are many.
IG: I’ve always been curious if you could wipe away any knowledge of which architect designed a course if we’d see a blip in those types of rankings. Truly, I think
Prestwick would still deliver just as strongly. The quaint entrance and cozy bag drop area lets you know right away that this is going to be a special place. Oddly enough, I’ve often gotten that same feeling pulling up to Dye Club. Neither is meant to give the allure of a golf factory – shuffling players in and out.
CK: Both courses have private club ethos and it’s reflected in the customer service and attention to detail, but the Dye family design work is the star. At Barefoot’s
Dye Course, players get to enjoy the full “Pete Experience,” with the railroad ties, visual deception and waste bunkers. I can’t get enough of it, despite my often less than stellar scores.
IG: Neither of these are a scorer’s paradise, to be sure. I remember one day in particular where I was playing Prestwick and the course absolutely chewed me up and spit me out. A 106? Are you kidding? I blame the heat. But I digress. The entire time it was kicking my butt, I took time to appreciate the layout, especially the openness of the Nos. 9 and 18 feeding back into the clubhouse. Those oversized pond and the dynamic bunkering are near perfect, and that was all Pete Dye.
CK: Let’s be honest, nobody wants to shoot 106, but the challenge and the possibility that a big number awaits is part of the appeal at Preswtick and the Dye Club. You feel good about posting a quality score on either track. I think the Dye Club is a touch easier, thanks to those 6,000-yard white tees!! Despite what your lyin’ eyes may occasionally tell you, there is ample room to hit the ball, you just can’t let the Dye mystique get in your head.
IG: You bring up a really great point. Dye knew he could jab players with consistent body shots. However, it was the fear of the haymaker that I think sets his courses
apart. Prestwick has a few holes where a mid-to-high handicapper gets lost in the surroundings. I’ve shot well at Dye, but my “good” rounds at Prestwick have been as slim pickings as any course on the Grand Strand.
CK: Prestwick plays longer, just over 6,300 yards from the white tees, and that distance makes it slightly more difficult. That being said, the back nine is an unforgettable collection of holes, particularly 16, 17 and 18. Sixteen is a great par 3 and No. 18, playing back into the clubhouse, is the perfect finish to a round. Pray for the best on the par 5 17th!
IG: I think it’s safe to say we want to hear from readers, not only on which of these two Pete Dye courses they prefer, but also which holes they they love the most. There are plenty to choose from.
(Top Photo: Prestwick Country Club 18th Hole)