MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | Even as it approaches its 20th anniversary, the Grande Dunes Resort Club is a no-brainer top-flight track along South Carolina’s Grand Strand golfing mecca.
But back in 2000, before it was finished?
“When you make the investment that the original owners did to build this course on this property, I’m sure there was some apprehension,” said Joe Dipre, the course’s current general manager. “But after the dirt got moved and they saw what they were developing, I’d think that all went away. You don’t get those undulations and those views from any other course.”
The prestigious Resort Club has cut itself apart from the 90 or so of its neighbors in so many ways.
As Dipre alluded to, some of the holes playing atop the bluffs overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway don’t hurt. Nor do the views of the Grande Dunes Marina or the massive boats docked there.
Fair playability – mostly created by wider fairways – is another notch in the plus column, as are some creative touches in and around the greens. In short, the Resort Club has earned some serious recognition (in 2009 it was named the “National Golf Course of the Year” by the National Golf Course Owners Association of America).
But now, another decade-plus into its existence, the pomp continues for the right reasons.
“It’s an exceptional place,” Dipre said. “As soon as you cross over that bridge, you feel like you’re somewhere special, and it’s beautiful with the Waterway and the course is so well maintained. Even coming to work here every day, you look out the window and I am like ‘Man, I wish I could tee it up.’ It says a lot about not only the course, but the land it’s on and the staff that gives you a first-class guest experience.”
Roger Rulewich’s lone Grand Strand design came on the heels of his influence on the famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama. And while he has a handful of other layouts in the Carolinas, Grande Dunes may be his best work in the region.
It’s something that many players discovered back in 2001 and have continued to realize over the years.
A GEM IN A LAND FULL OF THEM
Take Nos. 4 or 6 or 9 or 10 or 11 or 14(pictured right), and depending on whom you ask, you could get a bunch of different answers about which of Grande Dunes’ 18 holes in the best.
Ask Dipre, and he takes a little different path, thanks to all his rounds here.
The par-4, 468-yard 15th.
Like many of the other beauties here, 15 grants some views of the Waterway. It’s also got a high-quality mix of challenge vs. possibility.
“It’s a tremendous golf hole. You basically have a blind tee shot up to a ravine and depending on the wind, you land on the downslope. You have a long iron to hit,” Dipre said. “To me, personally, it’s the best hole out here.”