When golfers talk about a trip to Myrtle Beach they could be referencing courses that span from Pawleys Island to just across the state line in Brunswick County, N.C.
When Myrtle Beach boomed as GolfTown, USA, much of that growth came in Brunswick County, where 28 courses opened between 1980 and 2008. Despite the torrent of courses that helped shine a national spotlight on Myrtle Beach and solidify the area’s reputation as the game’s most popular destination, those Brunswick County courses largely fly under the radar.
Sure, most people are aware of the beauty of Rivers Edge, Oyster Bay and the Big Cats at Ocean Ridge Plantation, but Brunswick County is home to a host of memorable layouts people rarely hear much about.
If you are arriving or departing the area via Highway 17, here are five underrated Brunswick County designs that are more than worth your time.
– Crow Creek is named after one of America’s least popular birds, but don’t be dissuaded from teeing it up on this Rick Robbins layout. One of the few remaining area courses with bentgrass greens, Crow Creek is a delight to play, highlighted by the 574-yard, par 5 seventh hole, which features water running along both sides.
– Tim Cate is the best architect no one outside of the Carolinas has heard of. Cate has Tiger’s Eye, Leopard’s Chase and the renovation of Bald Head Island to hit credit, but his best work might be at Thistle. The 27-hole, Scottish links inspired design is a treat to play. The course is always in good shape and the clubhouse, which features centuries old memorabilia from Scotland, only adds to the experience. (pictured right)
– The Pearl, now home to three nines, features six holes that play along the Calabash River, adding beauty to the quality of Dan Maples’ design work. Home to the East, West and North nines, it doesn’t matter which combination you draw at the Pearl because an enjoyable day awaits.
– When its sister course, Farmstead, was open, Meadowlands Golf Club was often perceived as the “other” layout, but that’s no longer the case. With Farmstead closed, those resources have been used to enhance Meadowlands. If you haven’t played the Willard Byrd design in the last six months, it’s time to give it another look. Meadowlands is in awesome condition and it will give you a chance to score, a winning combination.(pictured right)
– Yet another 27-hole facility, Sandpiper Bay is most known for delivering a player-friendly layout. This Dan Maples design offers the promise of generous fairways and quality conditions, making it an ideal day of arrival course. (top photo)
Playing a Brunswick County layout will require a drive, but these hidden gems are worth the time.