MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | Anyone who has played golf along Alabama’s famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail knows about contoured course design. Undulated surfaces from tee to green are common, and they dictate how courses need to be approached.
Up and down South Carolina’s Grand Strand golfing mecca, it’s usually a different story.
Most of our tracks are so close to sea level that you could see an entire layout from one spot if it wasn’t for some nifty tree wraps and maybe a bridge cross or two. But one of our gems took a different path.
Twenty years after it first opened, we’re all lucky it did.
The Grand Dunes Resort Course is a visually stunning design built around a terrain that is otherwise uncommon in the Myrtle Beach area. It is set atop the bluffs overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway, creating an environment that would help Grande Dunes survive one of the hardest economic times in the industry’s history.
Obviously, top-notch maintenance had something to do with it. The grounds are pristine year-round, and golfers have always raved about those conditions. But as for where that was being done, we can also partially thank the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
While much of the Intracoastal Waterway – which stretches from New England to Texas – was developed in the 1800s, the thoroughfare’s South Carolina extension was executed between 1936-1940. And the 22-mile portion of it that was crafted along the Grand Strand (to go along with the naturally found rivers connected to it) was a bit of a meticulous endeavor. After all, you can’t simply drop a river at sea level without some issues.
And around the Grande Dunes property, we’ve benefitted from it.
In addition to digging down into the earth to allow the water to flow, some build-up of the adjacent land was also done. The combination of the two created that bluffed effect, most notably found at the Par 3 No. 14 here (pictured below). There are also key spots also around the swing through the turn and others that famously take in views of the Waterway and marina.
That elevated approach, then, brings us back to Alabama.
While his namesake golf trail is often attributed to Robert Trent Jones, it was another man, Roger Rulewich, who was doing much of the heavy lifting. Rulewich’s eye for how to make undulated terrain work turned into one of his fortes. Because of it, he’s been hired to lay out courses on two continents and around the Caribbean.
And one in Myrtle Beach.
Along with his design team, he put in some of his best work at Grande Dunes. We now have two decades of proof to back it up.